How to Write a Poem in 7 Steps

Learn to write poems easily. Make your words powerful, express feelings, and capture your audience. Have fun being creative, and create poems that everyone can enjoy.

By:   Daniel Oliver, Published on: 2024-01-25, Last Updated: 22-05-24

Reviewed by: Hazel Max

Table of Contents

Poetry is a very old way of writing that people have loved for thousands of years. Poets use poetry to express deep feelings, capture moments in time, and share important truths in just a few powerful lines. From ancient epic poems to romantic poems from writers like John Keats and Lord Byron long ago, poetry has given people a way to talk about the human experience across different cultures and periods.

Even today, in our modern digital world, poetry is still highly valued. A survey in 2018 found that almost 28 million adults in the United States read poetry. This shows that people still really enjoy the ancient craft of poetry. Maybe it's because a good poem can take big ideas and emotions and capture them in just a few beautiful lines, like Amanda Gorman did so powerfully with her poem "The Hill We Climb" at the 2021 presidential inauguration.

While some think you need a special creative gift to write poetry, the truth is anyone can learn how to write impactful poems by following some basic principles. From finding inspiration to revising drafts, this step-by-step guide will teach you the whole process of how to write your poems.

Whether you're brand new to poetry or an experienced writer wanting to improve, these tips can help you unlock your poetic abilities. 

As the famous poet Maya Angelou once said, "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." 

Let's explore how to give voice to your stories through the beauty of poetry.

What is a poem?

A poem is a piece of writing that uses imaginative and artful words to express ideas, feelings, and experiences in a concentrated and expressive way. Unlike regular prose, poetry uses techniques like line breaks, rhythm, rhyming, vivid imagery, and metaphors to create a multi-layered, evocative piece.

Poetry has very ancient roots, dating back thousands of years to oral storytelling traditions when poets were respected as storytellers and historians. Some of the earliest known poems still read today include the Epic of Gilgamesh from ancient Mesopotamia and the Vedic scriptures of ancient India, written around 1500-1000 BCE.

Over the centuries, poetry has taken many forms worldwide, from Persian ghazals to Japanese haikus to Elizabethan sonnets. Famous poets like Rumi, Maya Angelou, William Shakespeare, and Emily Dickinson have left a lasting impact, showing poetry's power to capture deep human feelings and insights.

In modern times, poets like Pablo Neruda, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Ocean Vuong have continued reshaping poetry, giving voices to diverse perspectives. Today, we see poetry everywhere—in song lyrics, social media posts, and even commercials using artful language to stir emotion.

At its core, a poem uses imaginative, carefully chosen words to express universal human truths in a unique, impactful way. 

As the poet Muriel Rukeyser said, "The universe is made of stories, not atoms." 

Poetry allows us to craft and share the essential stories that connect us all.

How to Write a Poem in 7 Steps?

Poems are intimate expressions of thought and emotion, captured in the artful arrangement of words. Here are 7 steps to help you write a poem:

1. Structure of a poem

The structure of a poem is how it is organized and put together. Some types of poems have strict rules to follow, while others are more flexible. Most poems are made up of lines, which can be of different lengths or follow a specific pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables. These lines are grouped into sections called stanzas, or verses, similar to paragraphs in regular writing. The stanzas can all have the same number of lines or vary.

The way the lines and stanzas are arranged on the page can create a visual shape, which can add to the meaning and impact of the poem. Poets intentionally break lines to create pauses, emphasize certain words or phrases, or control the rhythm and flow of the poem. They may also use techniques like repetition, rhyming, and refrains to establish a sense of structure and pattern within the poem.

  • Different types of a Poem 

Poems can take various forms, each with its own structure and rules. Here are some common poetic forms:

Free Verse: Free verse poems do not have a specific rhyme scheme or meter, allowing for flexibility in structure and expression.

Haiku: A Japanese form consisting of three lines with a 5-7-5 syllable structure, often capturing a brief moment or image from nature.

Sonnet: A 14-line poem with a specific rhyme scheme and structure, often divided into an octave (8 lines) and a sestet (6 lines).

Villanelle: A villanelle is a 19-line poem with a strict repetition of lines, creating a haunting and interwoven effect.

Ghazal: An Arabic form with couplets (two-line verses) that share a rhyme and a repeated word or phrase.

Limerick: A humorous, five-line poem with an aabba rhyme scheme, often with a twist or punchline in the final line.

  • Poetry Punctuation

Writing a poem is hard because you don't always know how to use punctuation. It's different from punctuation in a book.

There are three main ways to use punctuation in your poems:

Grammatical Clarity: This means using punctuation to make sure your poem is easy to understand grammatically. It helps the reader know where sentences begin and end, where to pause, and how the words fit together. For example, using commas to separate items in a list or using periods to end sentences.

Stylistic Effect: This involves using punctuation to create a certain mood or feeling in your poem. It's about using punctuation creatively to add emphasis, create rhythm, or convey emotions. For instance, using dashes or ellipses to create suspense or exclamation marks for excitement.

A Combination: This means using a mix of different punctuation techniques to achieve both grammatical clarity and stylistic effect. It's about finding the right balance between making sure your poem makes sense and adding artistic flair. You might use periods and commas for clarity while also using dashes and parentheses for style.

  • Final words of a poem 

The last words, lines, or parts of a poem are very important, like the end of a story. A good ending can make you think a lot or leave a strong feeling in your mind. When you choose the last words carefully, it makes the whole poem better.

2 - Imagery

Imagery is when poets use words to create strong pictures in your mind. Using imagery helps poets make their poems more interesting and helps readers feel like they're right there in the scene. They do this by describing things in detail using your five senses:

Sight: William Carlos Williams wrote, "A red wheelbarrow glazed with rain water." This line creates a clear image in your mind of a red wheelbarrow covered with shiny raindrops. It helps you visualize the scene and understand what the poet is describing.

Sound: John Keats wrote, "And the murmuring surge / That on the unnumber'd idle pebbles chafes." This description allows you to hear the sound of waves as they gently crash against countless small stones along the shore. It adds a layer of auditory detail to the poem, making it more vivid and engaging for the reader.

3 - Sound 

Using pleasing and sometimes surprising sonic patterns turns a poem into an experience for both the mind and the ear. While perfect rhymes aren't mandatory, strategic uses of sonic devices can add melody, rhythm and textural delight:

Assonance: Repeating vowel sounds like "What lips my lips have kissed" (Edna St. Vincent Millay)

Alliteration: Repeating consonant sounds like "the murmuring of innumerable bees" (Tennyson)

Internal Rhymes: Word sounds rhyming within lines, not just at the ends, like "A sort of window wind said / Was stroke across and tossed the bed" (Amiri Baraka).

4 - Meaning

Creating a meaningful poem means choosing one main idea or feeling to guide where the poem goes.

Focus: Choose one main idea or feeling for your poem. This is like a guiding light that keeps your poem on track.

Show, Don't Tell: Instead of just saying what you mean, use vivid details and comparisons to paint a picture in the reader's mind. This helps them feel the meaning rather than just understanding it.

Revision: Keep refining your poem. Make sure every word and phrase you use adds to the meaning. It's like polishing a gem to make it shine brighter.

Tips for how to write a poem with meaning:
When crafting your poem with an AI poem generator, start with a clear idea of what you want to say. Then, use descriptive language and examples to bring that idea to life for your readers. Don't rush the process—take your time to revise and refine until your poem captures the depth and emotion you intended.

5 - Have a Goal 

Think about why you're writing your poem. Do you want to make people feel something strong, like a powerful emotion or important event? Maybe you want to show a different viewpoint or speak up about something unfair. Some poems talk about big ideas like love or time. Others use humor to make fun of society's problems. No matter what, knowing why you're writing helps you stay focused. It decides what your poem is about and how it makes people feel.

6 - Avoid Cliches While Writing a Poem

When you write poetry, it's important to avoid using clichés. Clichés are ideas or phrases that have been used so much, they're not interesting anymore. Instead, try to come up with fresh and original ways to express yourself.

Check each line of your poem and ask, "Is this something I've heard a lot before?" If it is, try to say it in a new way that feels more like you. Don't rely on clichés or common comparisons that everyone knows.

Poetry is special because it can express thoughts and feelings in unique ways. By staying away from clichés, your words become more powerful and meaningful.

Remember, the goal is to create something new and important, not to use ideas that everyone has heard before. With a bit of creativity and originality, you can make your poems stand out and leave a lasting impression.

7 - Refine or Review the Poem 

After writing your poem, take time to review and refine it. Read it aloud to catch any mistakes or awkward phrases. Ensure clarity by checking if each line communicates effectively. Consider the structure for flow and rhythm. 

Replace clichés with fresher language. Trim unnecessary words. Seek feedback from others. Polish the poem for punctuation and formatting. This iterative process will help you enhance your poem's impact before sharing it.

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Conclusion

Poetry is a wonderful way to express feelings and ideas using words. These seven steps can help you learn how to write your poems. Whether following a structure or letting your thoughts flow freely, remember that poetry is about sharing emotions and connecting with others. So, pick up your pen and start writing! Every word you write adds color to the canvas of life.

FAQ's

How do I start to write a poem?

To start writing a poem, find inspiration from your surroundings, emotions, experiences, or a specific theme.

What are the 7 steps to writing a poem?

The 7 steps to writing a poem include: brainstorming ideas, choosing a poetic form or structure, drafting your poem, revising for clarity and emotion, refining language and imagery, seeking feedback, and finalizing the poem.

What is the format of a poem?

The format of a poem can vary widely depending on the style and structure chosen by the poet. Common formats include free verse, sonnet, haiku, and ballad.

How to become a poet?

To become a poet, practice writing regularly, study different forms and styles of poetry, read poetry from various poets, attend workshops or classes, seek feedback from peers or mentors, and persevere through rejection and challenges.

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