When you hear the word poetry, what comes to mind? Images of roses? A majestic snowy peak? Or maybe a quill held in a macabre hand? Do you cringe a little? Poetry doesn’t have to be so dramatic.
If you’ve never written a poem, you might not know how much your writing could benefit from a bit of poetry.
We recommend it so much we’re doing a 10 Days of Poetry Writing Challenge in October.
But how does writing poetry help you? Allow me to explain…
STRUCTURE STRETCHES YOUR CREATIVITY
Poetry, and the structure it enforces, is one of the best exercises a writer can practice. It forces us to distill complex ideas into small packets, because, while a novel may have hundreds of pages to tell its story, a poem condenses the beginning, middle, and end of an entire story into a few short lines. The mental contortion needed to do that, is great practice and that’s why we suggest writing poetry to every writer.
Learn to tell your story succinctly. Identify elements that really matter. Practice this skill and you will tell better stories.
GOOD IMAGERY DRIVES EMOTIONS
Imagery is a wonderful way to draw your readers into your piece. Good imagery can create visceral reactions in your readers. It gives the reader’s imagination sensory footholds for them to work with.
Focusing on creating good imagery in your poetry will translate to more engaging prose in all of your other works. Imagery is the foundation for your reader’s imagination.
BECOME MINDFUL OF YOUR WORDS
In poetry, less is often more.
This is also true in other writing, but we often forget to be selective in our word choices in our race to achieve a higher word count. By focusing on the restrictive structure within poetry, you’ll strengthen your vocabulary as you search for the exact right word.
And let’s not forget the value of the stressed syllable! Although we may not realize it, most of the time we speak in combinations of stressed and unstressed syllables. No one else has the opportunity to play with this as much as a writer. By switching which is syllable is stressed and which is not can make the words feel strange in our mouths and may even go so far as to change the meaning of the word.
For example: the word ‘behind’ changes whenever you change the stressed syllable. By changing the stress from the second syllable to the first, you can change beHIND (aka, after) into BEhind (aka butt). As you practice with poetic forms (such as Iambic Pentameter, which follows a strict pattern centered around pairing unstressed and stressed syllables), you’ll have a deeper appreciation for language and the power it provides to your creative vision.
As a long-standing poet, I invite you to try it! Write poetry when you’re stuck on your current project to shake up your writing. Write a poem to your loved one just for fun to practice those writing muscles.
Not sure how to get started with poetry? Join us on our 10 Days of Poetry. Sign up for free today!
Whatever you’re writing… a novel, short stories, or a dissertation, writing poetry can help you engage with your writing more mindfully.