In addition to increasing creative self-confidence, the process of writing a poetry book is rewarding at the personal and professional levels. It gives you something to strive for, inspires you to build creative practices, motivates you to hone your writing skills, creates publicly recognized opportunities, and you’re creative.
Make a beautiful showcase for your work. Whether you've written just a few stanzas or a lot of poems, you can design your own path to publication. Follow these instructions to learn how to write a poem volume or develop a poetry manuscript to full volume:
- Daily writing practice is essential.
Some poets start their daily writing sessions with a particular project in mind. Others start with journaling and freewriting (a technique similar to brainstorming, where you can quickly write down sentences or phrases that come to your mind without having to stop or think about grammar). This helps to shed ideas and lead to pictures and lines that inspire new poems. See the Poets Writers website for a list of prompts for writing poetry.
- Read a lot of poems
Think of it as creative fuel! The more you read, the better you will understand what a poem is and how many types of poetry there are. Familiarize yourself with not only classical poetry but also modern books by living writers. Explore different poetry schools (from modernists to beats, sectarian poetry, and everything in between). Knowing the history of your genre is part of the creative process and empowerment. When you write a poetry book, you become part of a creative conversation with past and present poets.
- Learn Poetry Techniques
As with any other creative discipline, learning poetry traditions and techniques will improve your writing skills. Take the time to immerse yourself in the technique of poetry. You may quickly know if you like a particular poem, but do you know what makes writing effective?
Think about how stanzas, enjambments, prosody (or rhythms), wording, images, similes, and metaphors work in your favorite poems. If this sounds like a lot, focus on one poetic element at a time. Observe how it works in the poems you read and practice using it in your writing. The Poetry Foundation has a great glossary of poetic terms to get you started, along with daily poetry, online magazines, podcasts, and literary reviews.
- Experiment with different shapes
Most writers are familiar with poetry with rhyming patterns such as sonnets and haiku. But have you ever tried to write Sestina or Villanelle? Do you usually write in short lines without punctuation or in long stanzas full of complete sentences? Many modern poems are written in free verse (no rhyme scheme or normal time signature) at this time taking online poetry classes can be an extra hand. In the world of poetry, there is plenty of room for experimentation while utilizing major literary techniques. As a task, try writing a poem that looks and sounds different from what you normally write.
- Avoid clichés
This writing tip may bring back memories of your English lessons, but it's good advice for writers of all levels. You know the cliché when you see or hear it. It proves that it is overused and not original. Examples include "cloud fluff," "at the speed of light," "clear blue water," "scary and die," "written on the wall," and "last forever." Check the poems for such hackney phrases and get in the habit of removing them. Choose your words carefully, as poetry draws its power from the creative use of language.
- Seeking Feedback
Accepting positive and negative feedback is part of the creative process of writing a poetry book. If you are embarrassed to receive constructive criticism, remember that as a writer you need to grow and improve by assessing your work. Successful and skilled poets need editing help, and so do you. Join the poetry community online or start a writing group at your local bookstore or coffee shop. Look around and you'll find a poet like you but are completed their online poetry course who wants to be a better writer, share and support each other.
- Give yourself time to fix
When you write something new, love it, and nothing changes, it's natural to seize this wave of creative energy! In some cases, you can leave the original draft as it is, but in many cases, you will want to take a step back on another day and return to that draft with a fresh eye. After thinking about it, you can decide to add another complete page or cut out the vague lines of repetition to make the poem even denser and stronger.
- Choose the best work
It may be tempting to include all the poems you have written so far, especially if this is your first poetry volume. But the weak poems you leave will spoil the best of the book. To introduce you to a sentence that you are particularly proud of, you need to cut out some poems (you can always send them to your friends, post them in magazines, or add them to your next collection!).
For the full-length volume of poetry, you need to collect about 40-70 pages of sophisticated work. If the pile of poetry is small, don't feel stressed. Publish your readers instead. A chapbook is a short collection of poems with an average of 20-40 pages, ideal for your first book project.