Often, writers tend to box themselves into a particular genre or format, leaning into the common phrase, “write what you know”. Be it short stories or novels, people like routines. Mixing it up once in a while never hurts, though. Throwing some poetry into your given routine can strengthen your writing and get those creative juices flowing, even if you don’t consider yourself a poet.
Writing poetry can provide excellent practice for a number of different literary techniques. Poems let you experiment with language and lyricism. With their smaller formats, you can practice honing your imagery. And of course, you can have fun diverging from your usual writing style with poetry.
Here’s a few ways to incorporate poetry into your writing schedule to not only stimulate your creativity, but enhance it.
The brain is a muscle, right? Thus, writing is its exercise. In many writing classes you take, the instructor will start by giving you a prompt to write about for several minutes, just to get you warmed up and thinking outside of the box. Set a timer for yourself, pull a topic out of a hat, and see what happens! It doesn’t need to be anything earth shattering, it just needs to get you thinking about words and how they fit together.
Taking the time to write a poem before working on your other projects gets the ball rolling. It can be short, sweet, and unrelated, as long as you're putting words onto the page. Plus, if you do a little bit of poetry writing before each of your sessions, you’ll have a lovely little collection of poems in no time.
If you want to keep your energy focused on your work in progress, no problem! Writing poetry about your characters can help you understand them even better. Taking the time to illustrate their appearances and actions in a lyric format can aid in your ability to describe them in prose and ground them in the reality of your world.
What’s more, you can even write poetry as your character. Maybe your protagonist (or antagonist?) is a hopeless romantic, and writes poems behind closed doors. Creating some of those poems allows you to step into the mind of that character and explore their thoughts and feelings in a unique way. If your character wouldn’t willingly write poems, you can still give it a shot – write a poem through their eyes to help capture their voice and see how they view the world around them.
Poems exist in our world in many formats – songs, nursery rhymes, scriptures, and so on. You could even argue that jingles in advertisements count as poems. So how does poetry exist in the world of your writing?
What’s the hit song at the time of your story? Did a character’s mother compose her own lullaby? Does an ancient prophecy predict future events? Think of the ways poetry influences your own life, then figure out how it would affect the lives of your characters. Expanding your imaginary literary canon fleshes out your setting, and brings everything closer to the realm of plausibility.
is a writer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Graduating in May 2020 with a degree in English Literature with a Writing Emphasis, Ian writes comics, poetry, and scripts. He is currently an intern for The Brain Health Magazine and aims to work in the comic publishing industry. In his spare time, Ian plays Dungeons & Dragons, board games, and bass guitar.
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