Writing Tip: ­Poetry Writing Exercises

Photo 1You have all these thoughts floating around in your head during the work week. You get a full night’s rest before the weekend starts, determined to write to you heart’s content and then the worst happens – your mind is blank and you stare at an empty page. Writer’s block has inflicted us all at some point in time. We forget all those great ideas we had and get frustrated. What is a writer to do when the time is right but there is no inspiration?

It might be the perfect time to try a few poetry writing exercises. You can go onto any poetry website and dabble with some new forms or pick a few words from the dictionary and write, but here are a few interesting ways to get your creative juices flowing:

Flow Writing. Pick a topic, an object, anything that you can think of and just write. Don’t time yourself. Don’t stop to correct spelling, punctuation or grammar. Just keep writing until you have nothing else to say. Write about your day, what you see through a window, or even the frustration you are feeling not able to write. Walk away from it and then return to read what you wrote. You might be inspired or be able to pluck a few lines and ideas to write poetry again.

Stephen KingGet Symbolic. Our lives can be compared to many things. We can be birds with broken wings or a crack like eggshells. Look around you and write down a few objects that can be symbolic for a person you know or the emotions you feel. Reflect on your workday and pinpoint some of your tasks or the supplies you use, to compare it to the direction life is going. Fill up the page with as many symbolic elements as you can. You will now have a page full of ideas to come back to when you need inspiration.

Song Lyrics. Who are you listening to right now? You love their music and play the same song over and over again. Why not write some new lyrics to the same tune? Pick a few artist or songs on your playlist and re-write their songs. It’s not uncommon for a poem to transform into a song, so why not transform someone else’s rhythm into a poem?

Play with Words. Pick a few of your favorite words and list them on a piece of paper. Next to them, add words that begin with the same letter, words that rhyme, synonyms of them, or words with the same amount of syllables. Paint the entire piece of paper with words. Eventually one or a few may motivate you to write and you will have more than enough to write a few poems.

We may not always have enough time to write poetry, but taking a few minutes to put some ideas on paper can be helpful. Always carry a notebook with you wherever you go. If the old-fashioned way is not your style, email or message yourself the ideas via your phone. With the overwhelming lives we lead, the brain can only recall so much once it gets the time to rest. Get into the habit of exercising those minds and get to writing again!


Written by: Donna J. Sanders

Donna is a freelance writer and blogger in West Palm Beach, FL. She is the author of Ataraxia, Cardboard Signs, and Devour Me.

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3 replies

  1. Donna, your article resonates with me. Throughout the years, I’ve used many of the techniques you think of, especially taking the dictionary, and searching through it for words when writing poetry. I too found it to be especially helpful when I was at a loss for inspiration. Back in the late eighties and early nineties, I worked at one of my local McDonald’s. When I worked in the back room of the restaurant where I prepared salads, I often used paper towels to write my ideas and stories at the same time I was doing the tasks my job at McDonald’s required of me. One day, I wrote the first draft for a piece of fiction I needed to write for my creative writing class. My shift at McDonald’s started at for instance 5:30 a. m. By the time I finished my shirt and 3:30 p.m. or 4 p. m. I had completed my first draft for my piece of fiction. I started working on it that particular morning. As I was working throughout the day, it’s when my ideas and inspiration would strike. I was compelled to write them down.

    On days I was assigned to cashier duty, I often would grab napkins from the counter, duck down behind the counter and write down my ideas for stories and poems. I even composed poems and bits of my stories using such method at such times.

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