Learning to Write Poetry

After sharing a recent poem, I was asked “Where did you get your inspiration for that?” My immediate answer was, “I don’t know; it just . . . came to me.” In a way, I felt this was true, but every action first begins with a thought, so I decided to break it down. It didn’t just come out of nowhere, did it? It wasn’t ingrained in my DNA. I thought about the question of whether or not creativity can be learned or if it is simply innate. I believe that some people are more creative or artistic by nature, but I also believe that it can be taught–at least, to some degree.

In this article, I will break down my process of writing a poem. If you have an interest in pursuing poetry writing, but don’t feel you have the skills or the artistic proclivity, perhaps these steps will help. This is a simple rhyming poem, so hopefully you won’t find the methods to be too challenging. I prefer to write rhyming poems because that’s what I prefer to read. I am not disparaging those who choose to write free verse poetry, but I think rhyming requires a more thought-out effort of creativity. I also like the sing-song type of rhythm that goes along with couplets, quatrains, limericks, and other rhyming poetry. To me, it is more pleasing to the ear. I have read and been told by greeting card companies and online publishers that rhyming poetry is less desirable, and yet if you look at almost all lyrical music, what song can you think of that doesn’t rhyme? It seems contradictory, doesn’t it? Well, I’ll get off that soapbox and return to the task at hand.

First, I choose a subject. We have come to the end of another year, so my inclination is to write about starting a new chapter, so to speak. My first line is simple, basic:

“Starting over, a brand-new year”

Ending with the word “year” is pretty safe, because there are a lot of words that can be rhymed with it. I then go through the alphabet, rhyming words with year – beer, cheer, dear, fear, gear, here, near . . . You get the idea. So, what’s the next concept after starting over? I decide to take a look back. 

“Looking back, I’m glad it’s here”

After the year we’ve had, I think this is a common sentiment among most people. I decide I want to make it a little more personal, so I focus not on general negative experiences that many of us have dealt with during the pandemic, but on individual actions.

“Many mistakes, wrongs, regrets,

Poor decisions I’d like to forget”

Again, going with a word like “regret” is an easy choice for rhyming purposes. Now that I’ve acknowledged the past, what’s next? Time moves forward, of course, but it is not always easy to keep up.

“Moving on is always tough

Time can heal, but not enough”

These statements are universally true and most people will relate. I don’t want to completely disregard things that have happened in the past. Whether good or bad, they have made me into the person that I am.

“Running away, you’ll never learn”

burn, churn, discern, earn, fern, spurn, turn, yearn . . .

“Embrace your past, be wise, discern”

Now that I’ve decided to accept my past, what steps do I take? I’m ready to move forward.

“Pick up, dust off, you’re on your way

Choose to live another day”

Simply living or existing another day doesn’t seem good enough. I want to do more than that.

“Choose to conquer another day”

This seems like an appropriate ending. It leaves the reader with hope and a promising future. Not only is it personal, there are statements and concepts that are relatable to everyone. 

Going back over the poem, I realize I change perspectives. I start off by using personal pronouns referring to myself, but in the last few lines, I end up using second-person pronouns. I don’t like the inconsistency, so I need to stick with one or the other. I don’t want to make it about myself; instead, I choose to make it more of a call to action, a challenge to the reader.

Starting over, a brand-new year
Looking back, you’re glad it’s here

Many mistakes, wrongs, regrets
Poor decisions you’d like to forget

Moving on is always tough
Time can heal, but not enough

Running away, you’ll never learn
Embrace your past, be wise, discern

Pick up, dust off, you’re on your way
Choose to conquer another day!

As I said, this is a simple poem and a simple message, but I hope it has inspired you to give one a try for yourself! I would like to write more articles that are beneficial in some way to other prospective writers. If you have found this constructive (or even if you haven’t), I would like to hear from you. Please feel free to share a poem that you have written in the comment section below and follow my blog for future posts. I frequently post my own original poems and short stories and always appreciate feedback from others.

If there is at least some interest, I will endeavor to post more articles to help teach creative writing practices in other types of genres as well. If you have suggestions on future “how-to’s” in regard to writing, I’m open to listening to those as well. As always, I appreciate your attentiveness and hope you have found these tips useful. Happy writing!

Photo by Ione Peony on Pexels.com

Published by Brandon Ellrich

I live in Central Missouri and enjoy reading, writing, playing tennis, watching movies, and exploring creative outlets. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and I love to take my readers inside the minds of my characters.

15 thoughts on “Learning to Write Poetry

  1. The inspiration to write poetry is a very personal thing I believe. Any little thing can ignite our senses to write as we feel. The poem you wrote in your column today has a beautiful message attached to it. It inspires one to move on with hope and that is the only thing that is truly important. That it makes a difference.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. So incredible to see the process, thank you for sharing! This is kind of how I work when I write songs. I know nothing about poetry, but I love to read poems. They kind of remind me of parables, because they can mean something different to different people. Thank you for sharing your gift!

    Liked by 2 people

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