Easy ways to write poetry

If you are a poet, sometimes you just want to write a poem quickly, without too much thought or effort. Perhaps you need a poem in a rush, or simply don’t have the mental bandwidth for crafting a poem at your usual writing time. Here are fifteen ways to write poetry that can possibly require less brainpower or effort:

1. Write what comes to mind. You can write in a stream-of-consciousness style, letting yours thoughts simply spill out onto the page, or break up the words into lines in free verse. Start with a single line – sometimes starting is the hardest part!

2. Try a form. On the other hand, it may be helpful to have a fixed format. Try one of the 55 forms I tried, including one like haiku with a set line/syllable structure (it also helps that it’s very short) or a cinquain or acrostic.

3. Write now, edit later. Just write, for now, with the intention of editing when you have more energy at another time. This allows you to be more creatively productive.

4. Make found, visual, or blackout poems. Sometimes writing by hand or computer can become a rut, so try using existing writing, cut and paste or block them out together. A found poem is another way to do this, just taking a text and turning it into a poem.

5. Steal from yourself. You can take bits of your own previous poems and modify them, or clip a poem from a longer story. You can even use ones from your own journal entries, emails, or anything else you’ve ever written before. Edit old poems or add to them. You can also write inspiring words you need to hear for yourself!

6. Speak your poem. Use your external voice instead of the internal one for a different, sometimes easier experience. You could sing it too, which may help in getting a rhythm or meter. Have your voice recorder ready!

7. Draw your poem. Try using a different side of your brain. While the left side is thought to control verbal processes, the right is more visual. If you draw a poem, you might access a distinct creative side in a new way. (more here: https://www.liveabout.com/right-brain-left-brain-theory-art-2579156) Try a word-scribble, ascii art, a cartoon, or any other form of art, including collage (try newspaper words!) or painting. Even diagramming can work.

8. Modify an existing poem. Poems like "I am from" or others can be modified to a new subject. You can also create a spoof version. If you think this is cheating, note that copying is an ancient tradition done by the best of poets (see here: https://vikingmac.wordpress.com/2020/07/27/how-the-ancient-poets-tragedians-copied-each-other/). Here’s a form to make your own I am from poem: https://freeology.com/worksheet-creator/poetry/i-am-from-poem/

9. Write your obsession. Have something else on your mind? It’s okay if you’ve preoccupied with a news event, another hobby, or your latest obsession with a tv show. Use them as fodder and topics for your poem. No subject is off-limits unless you choose. You can even write about your inability to write poems!

10. Go somewhere or somewhen else. If you sit at the same spot every day and are now stuck, try a different time of day, or move to a more beautiful set of surroundings. A lovely sunset, a forest, a lake, or even just a backyard or garden can change how you view the world, and provide inspiration.

11. Put yourself in new shoes. One of my favorite creative writing exercises in school was to choose an everyday object and write a "day in the life" from that perspective (I chose chewing gum). You could pick an object, another person, an animal, a plant, a planet, an imaginary creature, or anything else. Just pick one (even the first you see) and write as if the other were writing your poem.

12. Make it fictional. Sometimes we get stuck in the idea that poems need to be true and personal. But it’s okay if your poem is fictional, or a story, or seemingly personal but entirely made up. Many famous poems are! Here again, you can take an existing, well-known story, and tell it in poem form.

13. Use tools. Rather than struggle with the perfect rhyme, just do a simple internet search to find everything that rhymes with purple. Use the thesaurus for a variety of words when you repeat them too often. Look up idioms. Offload intensive tasks to your computer and compose your poem that way. Use magnetic poetry tiles or paint chips (see here: https://www.women.com/kelleyobrien/lists/easy-ways-to-write-poetry-070419)

14. Have fun with it. Dance to a poem you make up. Think of limericks on a walk. Use chalk or crayons. Make a drinking song. Make up poems while doing another favorite hobby. Write one for an occasion like a birthday, or for someone special or a dear friend.

15. Make it easy on yourself. You never know when or where inspiration will strike, so keep a pen and paper by your bed (dreams make great poems), in your car, a shower-proof writing pad in the bathroom, one in your pocket or bag. Use your phone’s notepad app or sticky notes in the kitchen or your laptop. Write the poems now to post or share later.

Want even more ideas? Here are 101 poetry writing prompts: https://thinkwritten.com/poetry-prompts/

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