Hello, Desiree here! I have a special guest post for all of you poets and aspiring poets out there. It was written by Carol Forrester, an amazing poet in my opinion. Enjoy the post and take some time to visit her blog!
Can you remember the first time you were asked to write a poem? Most of us have written one at some point, be it because the teacher set it as class task or we wanted to find a way to express ourselves in anger or joy. Poetry is one of the most versatile forms of writing, and even if you don’t like poetry very much, it finds a way into your life no matter what.
Honestly? I don’t remember the first poem I wrote. It was probably awful, it was probably clichéd, and if I read it back now, I would probably cringe. That isn’t saying much though since I cringe at poems I wrote only three years ago.
As with any other form of writing, we all improve over time. We learn new ways of putting words down on paper and we hear new poets who completely flip our perspectives over on their heads. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve heard people say to me that they don’t like poetry that doesn’t rhyme or that they don’t ‘get it’. That’s fine. Different people like different things and not everything that you write will be liked. However, since writing that first poem I have learnt a few things about how to write better ones and that is what I want to share with you today. So without further ado, here are my five tips for writing better poems.
1. Read and listen to every type of poetry that you can get your hands on.
On my shelves are poems by authors such as Sarah Kay, Carol Ann Duffy, Jim Clarkson, Maya Angelou, Sylvia Plath, Shakespeare, T S Elliot, and Megan Falley. I have poems from hundreds of years ago and I have collections published months ago. They all write differently and about different topics. Some you will have heard of, some you won’t. The point is that different is good and if you’re writing poetry then you need to read it as well as the best way to find out what works for you is to read as much as you can and to try out as many styles as you can. Poetry BlogHops also provide an amazing space for this as you have numerous poets all responding to same prompt in a different way. When I first started writing poetry, I thought poems had to rhyme or they weren’t really poems. I have written fixed form, I have written free verse. I have written about what I know and sometimes, about stuff I didn’t have a clue about. Some poems were good and some weren’t. I learnt what my strengths were and where I found weakness I also found way to improve.
2. Redrafting is your friend.
I hate sitting down to redraft a piece of poetry. At times it makes my skin crawl and makes me want to throw my poems out of the nearest window. It is important thought and over time I have learnt that it makes me a better writer. A week ago, I pulled all my poems from the last three years off of my blog, off of half-forgotten pen drives and external hard drives and stuck them into one single word document. I am now working through all of them and redrafting them one by one to create a stronger collection of work. I am not perfect and I certainly don’t write a perfect poem on the first attempt. Everything takes work and I need to be prepared to put that work in.
3. Rejections are not the end of the world, and take compliments with a pinch of salt.
There will always be those that tell you your writing is horrible and there will always be those who tell you it is fantastic. Both sets of people must be handled with care. Those who tell you that the work is not good enough? Take them as a challenge to do better. To the other side of the spectrum, be grateful but don’t let it go to your head. Positive comments are great but they can make you lazy. I know this from personal experience. If some says a poem is good then yay! That’s lovely to hear. It doesn’t mean you can’t make it better though. Remember that you are your own goal setter and you can always strive for better because you are never done learning. Everything you hear should be able to drive you forward.
4. Always hold something back.
It’s very easy to hit that publish button and not think anything of it when you’re blogging. Unfortunately, quite a lot of competitions will not take entries that have already been published online or elsewhere. I publish a lot of stuff online but more recently I’ve tried keeping some back to use as the basis for works to be entered into competitions or as submissions for anthologies. This is a balance you will need to find for yourself but it is important to keep in mind when you’re writing.
5. Step away from the computer every now and again.
Now I am one of the worst people for spending most of my time on the internet or typing away at my laptop. However, it is important you get out and see the world as a writer and as a human being. Go to poetry nights in your local area; take a walk in the countryside. It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as you are away from your screen and taking in the world around you. It will help fuel your creativity and meeting up with people at poetry events can open doors you never expected. Reading open mic nights can really help with getting poems right. You can gauge an audience’s reaction for yourself instead of waiting for someone to hit the comment sections.
It will also help you from going too insane. Staring at a screen all the time is not good for you and your health should always come first.
So there we have my top five tips for writing poetry. If you have anything to add then please do. You can also find me on my site Writing and Works, twitter, facebook and tumblr.
Bio: Carol Forrester is a twenty-two year old writer trying to be a better one. Don’t ask her what her hobbies are because the list doesn’t get much beyond, reading, writing and talking about the same.
She has a 2:1 BA degree in history from Bath Spa University and various poems and stories scattered across the net.
Her flash fiction story ‘Glorious Silence’ was named as River Ram Press’ short story of the month for August 2014 and her short story ‘A Visit From The Fortune Teller’ has been showcased on the literary site Ink Pantry’s. Most recently, her poem ‘Sunsets’ was featured on Eyes Plus Words, and her personal blog Writing and Works hosts a mass of writing from across the last five years.
With hopes of publishing a novel in the next five years and perhaps a collection or two of smaller works, Carol Forrester is nothing if not ambitious. Her writing tries to cover every theme in human life and a lot of her work pulls inspiration from her own eccentric family in the rural wonders of Shropshire life.
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