How Writing Poetry Can Help You Be a Better Writer (Guest Post)

As well as being Aussie Author Month this month, it is also National Poetry Month. Today I have a guest post from poet and children’s writer Rena Traxel on how writing poetry can help you be a better writer. She has some great tips, particularly for picture book writers.

Writing Poetry Can Help You Be a Better Writer

When you were in school you most likely studied poetry.  When you grew up some of you left poetry writing behind.  In celebration of National Poetry Month, I created a poetry challenge, in which I’ve pushed the participants to try a new poetic form each day, except for Sundays, in the month of April.  I’ve had them write both silly and serious poems.  What is the purpose of the challenge? To help the participants grow as writers. I’m here today to discuss how poetry writing can help you.

  • To grow as a writer you must challenge yourself.  Writing poetry is different from writing prose and therefore will force you to stretch your mind. If you already write poetry try out a poetic form you have never used before (this can be as simple as including a simile in your poem).
  • Is your story not flowing? Turn to poetry. Poets pay attention to stresses and syllables that is why poems tend to flow.  Dr. Seuss wrote many of his books using trisyllabic meter (putting stress on every third syllable). Dr. Seuss’ books move seamlessly from page to page. His books are easy to remember and kids love his books.
  • Poetry can help you get in touch with your inner child.  Literary critic and theorist Northrop Frye said, “the speech of a child is full of chanting and singing and it is clear that the child understands what many adults do not, that verse is more direct and primitive way of conventionalizing speech then prose is.” There is a reason why children love Dr. Suess and Mother Goose.
  • Are you too wordy? Poems show an entire story in very few words. Poets practice the art of compression by paying attention to every single word to make sure it is absolutely necessary. Even the title contributes to the story.
  • Poets pay attention to line breaks. They use line breaks to slow down or speed up a poem. If you write picture books it’s essential to know where to break up a story so that it flows from page to page.  Even if you write novels it’s important to know where to cut a chapter.
  • Practice showing versus telling. Because poems tend to be short they rely on images to tell a story.
  • Poetry can help you express yourself. You might be surprised to learn that poetry is closer to how we speak then prose.
  • Poetry is meant to read out loud and is why poets spend a considerable amount of time thinking about word choice. If you write picture books then you know your stories will have to be read out loud.  Even if you write novels you will have to read sections out loud at a reading.  Get comfortable with hearing your words by writing poetry.
  • Poetry is fun. Poems are not bound by the same rules as prose.  You can play around with form and punctuation as along as your choices are consistent.

Every time you sit down to write you are practicing your craft.  How do you expect to get better if you don’t push yourself? Step out of your comfort zone and give poetry a try. You will be amazed at the new skills you will learn.

Rena J. Traxel writes stories and poems for kids. She is currently working on a fantasy series for tweens. To learn more about her check out her website at www.renajtraxel.com or head over to blog “On the Way to Somewhere” at www.renajtraxelblog.com and enjoy some of her poems and stories.

A note from Jo:

Looking for some rhyming picture book inspiration during Aussie Author Month? I always refer to the two masters of rhyming picture books, Australian authors Graeme Base (Enigma, The Eleventh Hour, The Worst Band in the Universe) and Mem Fox (The Ballad of Skip and Nell, Time for Bed, Where is the Green Sheep?). For poetry, check out some of the works of Banjo Patterson (my favourite is Mulga Bill’s Bicycle).

Advertisements

53 thoughts on “How Writing Poetry Can Help You Be a Better Writer (Guest Post)”

  1. Thank you for this. As a playwright myself, I found it incredibly beneficial to learn and dabble in poetry and verse. It’s very interesting to see the take of a children’s lit writer on it.

    Like

    1. That’s interesting that you’ve found it beneficial as a playwright as well. Obviously poetry can be universally beneficial to writers!

      Like

    1. I agree with Rena, I’m sure it’s not as bad as you think it is! Besides, poetry is about expression and doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect. I’m glad Rena’s post could encourage you to keep writing it.

      Like

  2. Rena, thank you. I have started to play again with poetry and rhyme this past year and I am convinced it is benefiting my writing. I do need to start trying many new forms, though.

    Like

    1. It’s great that writing poetry is benefiting your writing. There are so many great forms to try. I love writing rhyming couplets and limericks.

      Like

  3. Rena, your love for poetry is obvious. Your poetry challenge has been just that, a challenge. However, this challenge is so much fun and your blog is so resourceful. This post if packed with helpful information. Jo, I’m glad I visited your blog.

    Like

    1. I’m glad you visited, too, Pamela. I might have to join Rena’s poetry challenge next year if she runs it again, it sounds like a lot of fun (unfortunately I just don’t have the time this year).

      Like

  4. Rena’s A-Z poetry challenge has been a wonderful experience. I have learned so much in the past to weeks over at her blog. I really enjoyed the post today ladies!

    Like

    1. No problem, Penny! I’ve enjoyed Rena’s thoughts on poetry, too. I’m hoping I have the time next year to participate in Rena’s challenge if she runs it again. It sounds like everyone is learning so much from it.

      Like

  5. Great post, Rena. I usually write English haiku, but your post was full of encouragement, so now I feel like trying something else. And thank you, Jo, for your suggestions. I’ll put Banjo Patterson on my reading list.

    Like

    1. Good to hear you found Rena’s post to be encouraging. I hope you enjoy Banjo Patterson’s work, he’s the quintessential Australian poet. 🙂

      Like

  6. I’m going to bookmark this post so I can remember all the reasons why I need to stretch myself more by writing poetry. I’m taking a poetry workshop in May for all of these very reasons. So well said.

    Like

    1. Have fun at the poetry workshop, Julie. It’s great that so many people are finding encouragement from Rena’s post.

      Like

  7. Wonderful, Rena! Right on, and write on. As a poet and author of non-fiction and fiction, I can’t agree with you more. And poetry is the base, for me, if I had not been a poet, first, I never would have ventured into prose. Poetry hones our craft as writers like nothing else. All the best, Mike Tucker, author of SPARTACUS DID THE RIGHT THING

    Like

  8. Aw, this was an incredibly nice post. Finding the time and
    actual effort to create a great article… but what can
    I say… I put things off a lot and never manage to get anything done.

    Like

  9. hello!,I really like your writing very so much!

    percentage we communicate more about your post on AOL?
    I require a specialist on this space to resolve my problem.
    May be that’s you! Taking a look ahead to peer you.

    Like

  10. Please let me know if you’re looking for a writer for your blog.

    You have some really good articles and I feel I would be a good asset.
    If you ever want to take some of the load off,
    I’d love to write some articles for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine.
    Please send me an email if interested. Kudos!

    Like

  11. Appreciating the time and energy you put into your blog and in depth information you
    offer. It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same out of date rehashed material.

    Fantastic read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google
    account.

    Like

  12. Do you mind if I quote a few of your posts as long as I provide credit and
    sources back to your website? My blog site is in the very
    same niche as yours and my users would truly benefit from some of the information you provide here.
    Please let me know if this alright with you.
    Regards!

    Like

    1. What sort of help do you need? You can email me at thegracefuldoe (at)hotmail (dot)com or if you would like to get help from Rena, who was the guest poster of this article, there is a link to her website and blog at the end of the article.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s