5 Top Poetry Writing Tips
  • 3-minute read
  • 24th June 2018

5 Top Poetry Writing Tips

Oscar Wilde once wrote that ‘A poet can survive anything but a misprint.’ It’s lucky for poets, then, that we provide an outstanding poetry proofreading service! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Before we can proofread a poem, someone needs to write it. This can seem challenging if you’re new to poetry, but we have a few tips to help out.

1. Types of Poetry

Poetry is a hugely varied artform, including everything from silly limericks to Homeric epics! Some common poetic styles and forms include:

  • Acrostics (poems in which the first letter of each line spells a word)
  • Haikus (a Japanese poetic style comprising three lines and 17 syllables)
  • Lyric poetry (poems that express emotions or feelings)
  • Sonnets (poems with 14 lines that follow one of several rhyme schemes)
  • Shape poems (poems where the words on the page create an image)

If you’re not sure which style appeals to you, try reading different types of poetry for some ideas.

2. Focus on the Little Things

It can be tempting to make every poem about BIG subjects, such as love or suffering. But some of the most effective poetry is about everyday things, like a red wheelbarrow, which was inspiration enough for William Carlos Williams.

William Carlos Williams’ muse.

Focusing on the little things like this can help root your poetry in the real world, making big themes relatable by providing a concrete point of focus. And a good poem can completely change how we see otherwise mundane objects.

Find this useful?

Subscribe to our newsletter and get writing tips from our editors straight to your inbox.

3. Use Metaphors (But Avoid Clichés)

Metaphors, similes and other literary techniques are common in poems. Learning about and using these in your writing is therefore a very good idea!

However, try to avoid clichés, especially with metaphors. Thousands of poets have compared a lover to the sun, for example, so this image has lost its impact. But only John Cooper Clarke has written about love by saying ‘I wanna be your vacuum cleaner/breathing in your dust’.

A truly romantic image.

4. Writing Exercises

If you don’t know what to write about, try doing some poetry writing exercises instead. As well as helping you overcome writer’s block, this will let you try out different poetic techniques and skills.

5. Embrace Failure

When starting out, you might find your poetry isn’t quite at Wordsworth’s level right away. But that’s fine! Poetry, like any art, is about experimenting. And even a ‘bad’ poem is a chance to learn something for next time. The key is to keep on writing, seek feedback and then write some more!

And don’t give up on a poem because it doesn’t work immediately. Instead, leave it for a day or two come back with fresh eyes. A little editing might be enough to unveil a diamond amidst the rough!

Comments (0)

Get help from a language expert.

Try our proofreading services for free.

More Writing Tips?
Trusted by thousands of leading institutions and businesses

Make sure your writing is the best it can be with our expert English proofreading and editing.