How To
7 min read

How to Write a Poem Step by Step

Reem Abouemera

July 8, 2022

So, you want to write a poem but not sure where to get started? Then you’ve made a great choice and come to the right place! Poetry is written in styles that are unlike most other forms of writing, such as freelance writing, recommendation letters or a high quality resume to secure your dream job, and each have proven formats and step by step processes to reach your end goal.

Poetry is one of the oldest and most respected forms of writing. It can be used to express your thoughts and feelings in a way that no other form of writing can. 

On top of that, you have the ability to touch people’s hearts through your words.

While there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to writing poetry, there are a few things to keep in mind as you get started. 

white rose on white textile

What should you consider when writing a poem?

Before you start actually writing your poem, you’ll want to consider a few things.

Think these through a bit before you put pen to paper.

Type of Poem

For starters, you need to decide what type of poem you want to write. There are many different types of poems, such as:

  • Sonnets
  • Haikus
  • Odes
  • Ballads

These types of poems can be broken down into two main categories: form poems and free verse poems.

Form poems are those that follow a specific structure. For example, a sonnet consists of 14 lines with a specific rhyme scheme. 

On the other hand, free verse poems don’t follow any specific rules or guidelines. These are the modern-day poems you see written today.

Purpose of poem

Now that you know what type of poem you want to write, it’s time to consider the purpose of your poem. 

What are you trying to communicate with your words? Are you trying to:

  • Express your love for someone?
  • Capture a moment in time?
  • Raise awareness for a cause you’re passionate about?

Your purpose will dictate the tone and subject of your poem. 

For example, if you’re writing a love poem, your tone will likely be romantic, and your subject will be your significant other. However, if you’re writing a poem about an important issue, your tone might be more serious, reflecting your subject.

Audience

Another important consideration is your audience. Who are you writing this poem for?

Are you writing for:

  • Yourself?
  • A specific person?
  • A wider audience?

This is important to consider because it’ll affect the way you write your poem. For example, if you’re writing for yourself, you might be more inclined to write in a personal and intimate style. 

However, if you’re writing for a wider audience, you may consider making your poem more accessible by using simpler language.

Occasion

You also want to keep in mind the occasion for your poem. Is there a specific event that you’re writing about?

For example, if you’re writing a graduation poem, your tone might be more reflective, and you might focus on the future. 

However, if you’re writing a birthday poem, your tone might be more celebratory, and you might focus more on the present.

Culture

You need to consider the culture of your audience. This is important because it’ll affect your approach to writing your poem.

Let’s say you’re writing for a conservative audience. In that case, you might want to avoid using profanity or explicit language. You wouldn't want to use language considered offensive to your audience.

In contrast, if you’re writing for a more liberal audience, you might feel more comfortable using this type of language.

Be very clear on who you’re targeting with your poem, and always consider the culture surrounding you.

How to write a poem in 11 steps

Once you take some time to think about all the factors above, you’re ready to start writing.

Here is how to write your poem in just 11 steps.

white cup with saucer near bok

1. Decide what you want your poem to communicate

It’s time to decide what you want your poem to communicate. This is the most important step in writing a poem because it’ll dictate the rest of the process.

So, what do you want your poem to say?

Are you:

  • Portraying a certain emotion?
  • Trying to tell a story?
  • Making a statement about something? 
  • Standing up for something you believe in?

Answering these questions will help you figure out the overall message of your poem. Spend sufficient time on this step to make sure you have a clear idea of what you want your poem to communicate.

Remember, you want readers to come away from your poem with a specific understanding or feeling. So, you must have a clear idea of what you want to communicate before you start writing. 

Otherwise, you risk crafting a poem that doesn’t achieve its purpose.

2. Create a plan

Now that you know what you want your poem to communicate and what it'll be about, it’s time to start planning. This step is important because it'll help you organize your thoughts and structure your poem in an impactful way.

At this phase, start thinking about the overall structure of your poem. Ask yourself:

  • How long do you want it to be? 
  • How many verses do you want it to have? 
  • What rhyme scheme do you want to use?

You don’t need to have everything figured out at this stage. However, it’s helpful to have at least a general idea of what you want your poem to look like.

3. Make lists of ideas

Following your plan, start making lists of ideas related to your poem. Write down any and all thoughts that come to mind, no matter how random or trivial they may seem.

There are no rules for this step. Just let your mind flow and jot down any thoughts or images that come to mind so you can start piecing them together later.

This is called "freewriting," and it's a great way to generate ideas for your poem.

Once you have a list of ideas, start looking for words to help communicate those ideas. 

Start by making a list of concrete words and phrases that come to mind. Then, use a thesaurus to find synonyms for those words so you can expand your list.

Finally, a rhyming dictionary can be helpful for finding words that rhyme with the words on your list. This can be useful if you plan to use a specific rhyme scheme in your poem.

4. Write first, edit later

The real work of writing a poem begins when you start putting words on the page. The best way to do that is to just start writing!

Don’t worry about making mistakes or crafting perfect sentences. Just let your thoughts flow and see where they take you. 

The important thing is to get your thoughts down on paper so you can start shaping them into a poem. You can always go back and edit it later.

Remember to write for yourself first and foremost. Write with your emotion and your passion. 

Don’t worry about what other people think. Just write, and the rest will fall into place.

5. Put your poem aside for a few days (or even weeks)

Are you surprised that the next step is to put your poem aside rather than edit it immediately? It may seem counterintuitive, but giving yourself some time away from your poem can actually be helpful.

Taking a break from your poem will help you come back to it with fresh eyes. This allows you to see it from a new perspective and catch any errors or mistakes you may have missed.

6. Ask for feedback

It's also a good idea to get feedback from other people. Ask a friend or family member to read your poem and give you their thoughts. Their feedback can help shape your poem into something that's even better.

Just remember, it's up to you to decide what changes to make (if any). 

However,  getting input from others can give you a different perspective you may not have considered.

7. Edit your poem

Once you've taken some time away and gathered feedback, it's finally time to edit your poem. This is where you'll go through your poem and make any changes or corrections that you think are necessary. 

Consider elements like:

  • Flow
  • Meter
  • Rhyme 

Flow is the overall rhythm of your poem and how it moves from one word to the next. 

Meter is the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in each line. 

Rhyme is the repetition of similar sounds at the end of lines.

These elements are important because they contribute to the musicality of your poem. They give it a certain beat or rhythm that can be pleasing to the ear. 

They can also help emphasize certain words or ideas.

8. Read your poem aloud

One of the best ways to edit your poem is to read it aloud. This will help you catch any errors or awkward phrases you may have missed. 

It also gives you a chance to hear how your poem sounds, which can help you decide what changes to make.

See how your poem sounds when you read it aloud. Ask yourself:

  • Does it flow well? 
  • Are the words easy to say? 
  • Does it sound awkward in any places? 
  • Does it rhyme well?
  • Is it too long or too short?

Tip: A poem that's too complicated or too simple may not be as effective as you want it to be. So, try to strike a balance between the two.

9. Perform the final quality check

Now that you've read your poem aloud and it sounds great, it's time for the final quality check. This is where you go through your poem line by line and make sure that everything is just the way you want it.

Here, you’ll really fine-tune your poem and make sure that it's the best it can be. 

Pay attention to the words you've chosen and how they sound together. Consider the meaning of each line and whether or not it adds to the overall feeling of the poem.

10. Create a feeling and experience, not just a story

Finally, take a step back and read your poem as a whole.

Remember that poetry is a form of artistic expression, and what makes it different from other forms of writing is its focus on creating a feeling and experience for the reader. 

As you read your poem, think about what kind of feeling or experience it'll create for the reader. Is the poem:

  • Sad? 
  • Happy?
  • Angry? 
  • Romantic?

There are no right or wrong answers here. It all depends on what you're trying to achieve with your poem. When you're satisfied with it, it's finally time to share it with the world!

person holding white printer paper

11. Share your poem with the world (if you want)

Congratulations, you've written a poem! Now you’re ready to share it with the world.

There are many ways to do this. 

One option is to submit it to a poetry contest or magazine. This can help you get your work out there and potentially win some recognition (and prizes!).

Another option is to simply post it online for others to read. This is a great way to get feedback from a wider audience. 

Finally, of course, you can always just keep your poem to yourself and enjoy it for what it is: a beautiful piece of art that you created.

Wrap Up

In all cases, writing a poem can be a rewarding experience. It's a chance to express yourself and explore your creativity. 

So, enjoy the process and don't worry about perfection. The most important thing is that you had fun and created something that you're proud of.

Of course, if you’re still lacking inspiration, you may want to see what kind of poems AI-powered writing can whip up. 

Check out some of Copy.ai’s writing tools here, and start writing everything from poems to blog posts to email newsletters!

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