How To Write Poetry When You’re Uninspired by Kerby Purser
by Writing Workshops Staff
A year ago
Maybe you are an established poet and have been writing for years, or perhaps you're new to poetry. Either way, you will find yourself at a place where you are uninspired but still need to write. It may be a school assignment, a deadline, or you just really want to write, but you have writer's block.
Having a poem come through you naturally—or perhaps magically—is hard to do with any kind of regularity. Try this method for finding out what you want to say and then creating a beautiful poem from it. I promise this will work for you whether you're "feeling it" or not.
Pick a topic that is meaningful to you. If this sounds daunting, try making a list. List the things you are proud of, your favorite places, your greatest fears, or the people you love the most. What, in your mind, is worth writing about and preserving forever?
Once you have chosen a topic, brain dump your ideas by making another list of everything that reminds you of the topic or describes it. Use all five senses, and include at least one descriptive detail for each. For example, when writing about your cat, you might include "pink button nose," "soft black fur," "sweet purr," and other things you love most about your furry friend.
Research your topic to dig deeper and gain more understanding. If you are writing about your cat, you could search for poems about cats. Read through these and see what other people have already written about. Don't think for a second about using their exact words, because that's not cool. Rather, use it as a source of inspiration to get your own creative wheels turning.
Now, take your detailed list and organize it. Start by putting your notes in the order you want them to appear in the poem. Maybe you have several things that touch on a similar point. You can group these together and put them in the middle of your poem for emphasis. Perhaps you know the line or point you want to end on. You can always start at the end and build your outline up from there. Try to see your poem as a story you are telling with a clear beginning, middle, and end.
Begin writing. Once you have an organized outline, writing is usually a piece of cake. I often google things like "synonym for ___" and "rhymes with ___." A thesaurus can be your best friend here. I also like to google definitions of words to see if they fit perfectly where I am trying to put them and if they add value to the point I'm trying to make. Of course, you don't have to use every idea or description you came up with in your brain dump, and it helps to cross out the ones you have used as you go. Focus on your senses to add imagery and be as descriptive as possible. See a noun without an adjective? Add one! You are painting a literary picture.
Edit your poem. Take out all the words you can do without while not jeopardizing the meaning of the message you are trying to convey. I always think of the Mark Twain quote, "Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words." You can read through the finished piece and edit as you read or seek out a friend or teacher with excellent writing skills. If someone else takes the time to help edit your work, bring them cookies or brownies. Trust me, this works wonders.
Share your poem! It can be with someone special, family, friends, social media, your blog, or even a literary publication or contest. You are important and your words matter. Your poetry wants to be shared—I promise.
Kerby Purser is a Dallas based poet. She is a Sagittarius and loves animals, books, and glitter.