- Try to write every day. Don’t wait for inspiration to strike.
- Play to your strengths. If you prefer to write in rhyme, do so. If not, don’t. It doesn’t matter whether a poem rhymes or not.
- Having said that, it is also important to push yourself out of your comfort zone from time to time.
- Don’t write to a formula. If your writing interests you, it will probably interest other people. If it bores you, it will probably bore others.
- Don’t take rejection personally. Remember, it is only your poem that is being rejected, not you.
- Talent is overrated. Persistence is much more important.
- Know the markets. Write with the markets in mind.
- Having said that, don’t write with the markets in mind all the time. It is important to have fun with your poetry, and take risks. Try not to get too serious about it all.
- If you’re stuck for an idea, choose something small and insignificant to start with, and build from there.
- Celebrate your mistakes. They are evidence of your productivity. Remember, the most mistakes are made by the most successful people.
Thanks to Stephen Whiteside for these excellent tips on writing poetry. Stephen’s collection of rhyming verse for children, ‘The Billy That Died With Its Boots On’ and Other Australian Verse, was published by Walker Books in 2014. In 2015, the book won a “Golden Gumleaf” award for “Book of the Year” at the Australian Bush Laureate Awards during the Tamworth Country Music Festival. Visit his website for more details.
Find the rhythm
Poetry doesn’t have to rhyme but it should have good rhythm–should sound good read aloud, as that is how most poetry for children is delivered, rather than silent reading. Listen to the sounds as you read out your poem; does it have a good pattern, an attractive rhythm? Jerky rhythm or forced rhyme will really spoil the overall feel. – Sophie Masson. (Visit Sophie’s website here to find out more about her writing).