10 Steps to Writing a Successful Poem

Staring at blank paper can be daunting. It’s just a piece of paper, but there’s so much it can hold! It is light now, but it has the potential to be a paperweight if the right words are written upon it. successfulpoempinterest

The same could be said about a poem. It could be a waste of space, or a Pulitzer Prize Winner. How does one write a successful poem? I have created this easy and simple step-by-step guide for you to use as often as you like!

Step 1. Select your foundation

A stack of clean white paper is required. Ivory or parchment is recommended, even a soft clay tablet and an authentic stylus works just as well if that’s your cup of Joe. Lined paper is heavily frowned upon because the lines interfere with the creative free spirit.

Step 2. Locate your weapon of mass construction

Pencils are the preferred writing tools for a poet. Pens are not commonly used due to the amount of erasing a poet performs when crafting. Unless you favor the strike-through look in your poem, repeat step one until you have selected enough paper to keep rewriting, or just simply stick with a few boxes of nicely sharpened pencils. And save yourself the trouble and purchase a package of erasers. I hear Sam’s Club has a great value pack.

Step 3. Mark your location

Where does your creative free spirit feel…freest? What atmosphere generates those creative juices and gets them flowing in a smooth stream of pure genius? Is it on top of a hill overlooking a wide expanse of creation, with the wind caressing your ears with words to your next poem? Or is it simply being locked inside four walls that unlocks your imagination into painting word pictures and metaphors?
Whatever encourages your inner wordsmith to show himself and get to work constructing, find it, cultivate it, and utilize it often.

Step 4. Find your type

With over fifty types of poetry existing in the universe, there’s a wide range for you to choose from. The options can be overwhelming, but narrow it down to what you are trying to get across. Is it a heroic battle? Try writing an epic. Is it a love story? Try writing a sonnet. Is it humorous? Maybe a limerick would fit it like a glove. If choosing your type first doesn’t work, move onto step five and then come back to this one. And who knows, you might even be the next genius to discover the sixtieth type.

Step 5. Choose your subject

Not to be confused with your victim. What is on your heart? What is burning in your mind that needs seared into the annals of poem history? Start with something small and ordinary. For example, a mouse. Everyone knows Three Blind Mice. It’s world renowned; for centuries! Once you have found your topic, complete step four, unless of course you already have in which case step write up onto number six!

Step 6. Begin construction

The role of the poet is to take something ordinary and construct it into something extraordinary, much like what God does with His people. Implant meaning into every word and every phrase, even down to the placing of your punctuation. In poetry, every detail matters. Apply metaphors, and similes where they need to be.
Simply put, write your poem.

Step 7. Reconstruct

Thought you were finished? Every craftsman knows that a project isn’t completed even when it is first built. What if you made a mistake? This is where your value pack of erasers will either become your archenemy or your best friend. Rewrite, edit, play with the words, mix them up. Take some out. Toy with the punctuation. Rewriting is a poet’s best weapon…that and erasers.

Step 8. Submit to scrutiny

This step almost seems harsh, cruel, and well, unnecessary. You wrote your poem for yourself, right? Some people do, but those who want to affect the culture will write their poems for the benefits of others. To refine your poem consider finding a critique group. It’s scary, we understand, but part of being a poet is pushing yourself from your comfortable seat and flying into the fiery flames of criticism. Sometimes immersing yourself completely is better than getting your toes singed. Whatever works best for you, send it to people who can point out blind spots, errors, and make your work sound better. Squash the pride and let your poem be transformed into a beautiful pumpkin pie.

Step 9. Apply finishing touches

With any project, finishing touches are key to making a drawing into a masterpiece. Analyze the critiques you gathered from gracious friends, and don’t take them personally. They’re trying to help. This is your work of art so every change is ultimately up to you. However, humble pie is a highly recommended dish to consume when considering which critiques to apply to your poem.

Step 10. Take it for a drive

Once you have completed the first nine steps, your poem should be ready for a successful outing. Dress it up and find a befitting display. This may include printing it off and presenting it to a friend as a gift, or publishing it on a Christian website such as Kingdom Pen. Whichever outlet best fits the poem you have just written, plug it in and let it shine!

 

Is there a step you skipped? Feel free to come back as many times and read this step-by-step guide to writing your very own successful poem.

Did you follow this guide and write your poem? Consider submitting it to Kingdom Pen! If you followed the steps, it should be publishable!

Haley is a writer, pianist, singer, and growing disciple of Jesus Christ. She enjoys strong coffee, dark chocolate, and overcoming whatever challenges come her way. Writing, and books in general, have been one of her passions since she discovered story worlds at the age of four.  Haley is one of the editors of Kingdom Pen, a piano teacher to several wonderful students, and is also the marketing manager of The Long Way To Go as well as Modesty Matters.

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Comments

  1. Wonderful summary of how to write a poem! This is definitely an article I’ll refer back to. 🙂

  2. Love this article! How fortunate I am to find this 15 minutes after remembering a narrative poem and I started forever ago. Guess I’ll follow your advice an pick up my weapon of mass construction…

  3. Thanks so much, Haley! I’ve been wanting to try writing poetry, and I am positive this article will come in handy! 😀

  4. Hm, good pointers… too often I find myself a victim of ‘blank page paralysis’. 😉 If only inspiration was something you kept in a bottle and took when you needed it. 😛

  5. oooh, I love poetry. I’ve never really thought about paper and pencils though. I guess it doesn’t change much for me, but I sure would like parchment and a quill just for the feel of it. Actually, I often start with 5, the subject, and then to run to go find some paper or my computer.

    • Me too. 🙂 Actually, before I write anything down, I usually think up what I want to say and what I want to use to say it, then run for my laptop. I used to hate typing, but now it’s easier than pen or pencil. Partially because of really bad writer’s cramp. 😛 But my thoughts flow better on a keyboard anyway.

    • The part about the paper and pencils was mainly satire… XD
      And yes, the keyboard is much easier than actually hand writing it out. I tend to think better when I write it out by hand though.

  6. This is very helpful, Haley! Thanks for all the tips! 🙂

  7. Favorite part of the whole article: weapons of mass construction pun. Kidding, but I am a sucker for puns. I loved this, Haley! Keep being awesome! 🙂

    • So glad you loved it!! Yeah, I had an absolute blast while writing this, the whole pumpkin pie thing…and then finding the outlet and plugging it in and letting it shine…I had fun. 😀

  8. Good tips, but I’m a pen person, although I used to be all about mechanical pencils before I discovered Pilot fountain pens. Instead of erasing, (which I used to do mercilessly with all the fervor of a perfectionist;) I rewrite, strike through, write notes above my work, or put in asterisks for suggestions that I’ll hide in the margins on the sides. I like to see what my work looked like before and compare it as I go.

    I use my fountain pen, (I can write much faster with it than a pencil, especially if I write in cursive) and (usually) a canary legal pad, which I’ll switch up from time to time with a fun journal or my computer.

    I’m a big fan of line-less paper too, but, while I enjoy it sometimes for journaling, I have found it can keep me from focusing when writing poetry or stories. There’s just something about lines. I want to fill them up, you know? Maybe because I’ve drawn a lot over the years. I feel like paper with lines is for words, and paper without is for pictures.

    When it comes to writing materials, you really need to try some different things until you hit on what you like best, like Haley has.

    • I do use pens more than pencils to be quite honest (and my laptop mainly for writing in general)…The whole thing with the writing utensils was mainly satire. 😀
      That’s very interesting how you have a distinction between lined and blank paper. I’m not much of an art person (stick figures and heart shapes are about as detailed as I can get, with the exception of making weird designs on paper when I’m bored), but I think poetry in itself is an artwork on paper, the spaces in between, the set up, punctuation, all of it. #randomthoughtforyouthere 😀

      • It’s not a set-in-stone distinction, but it works for me. 🙂

        That’s interesting, Haley. I think that way too sometimes, especially about poetry, but to me, writing is less like an artwork on paper and more like an instrument playing words like notes to compose pictures in the mind of the reader.

        I think that thought got away from me there, 😉 but you get the idea.

  9. This has been greatly useful as I write my poem for the poetry competition Haley. Thanks so much. 🙂

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