- Tips and expert advice
Top tips on how to write your own poems
My name is Jerome Martin. I’ve been reading and writing poetry for many, many years. I studied poetry at university, and even published a book of my own poems (for grown ups). It isn’t easy writing poetry – that’s part of what’s fun about it – but it does get easier as time goes on. That’s partly because I think you just get better at it, and partly because you learn all kinds of tricks to help you face the empty page. So, to give you a leg up, here are my own top three tips for poets.
Make a word list
Start by opening a random book to a random page, and write down the first word that catches your eye. (Ignore words such as the, and, or, etc.) Keep doing this until you have two or three little columns of words – about 20 words in total.
Then, have a look at your list. Can you spot any interesting or funny word combinations? Are there words that could fit into the poem you want to write? This is a great way to get new words and ideas into your writing. Think of the list as an artist’s palette, splashed with raw materials that you can mix together in new and surprising ways.
Jerome reads one of his poems 'Ode to Pluto'
Make it hard on yourself
Sometimes, making a poem harder to write can actually make writing easier. It sounds odd – but giving yourself tough rules to follow can help you if you’re stuck for ideas. So, for example, you could write your poem with a tricky pattern of rhymes, or have every line begin with the same word, or write the whole poem as a single sentence. Setting yourself challenges like these can actually help you to come up with unexpected rhymes and satisfying sentences, and to improve as a writer.
Write what YOU want to read
One of the best things you can do is to read lots of poems. This will help you find out what kind of poetry you like reading most. Then – even better – you’ll discover what kind of poems you’d like to read that no-one is writing. Then, you can write them.
Remember, if what you’re writing gives you pleasure, and is interesting to you, it is more likely to delight, interest and inspire other readers. And what better reason do we have to write?