Poetry. You either hate it or you love it. There's rarely any in between. But for those who hate it, it might be a lack of understanding, a less-than-great teacher who made you write sonnets, or simply not finding the kind of poetry that speaks to you.
There are as many types of poetry as there are genres of fiction. What works for one writer will not work for another. But one thing's for sure: when it comes to writing it, you have to feel the emotion you're trying to convey in your poem. Forcing poetry will get you almost nowhere.
But talking about poetry is a whole lot easier than actually writing. So let's look at some reasons why trying it can make you a better writer and why it's not as scary or mysterious as you might think.
Brainstorm and exploration
Poetry is the perfect place to go if you're stuck in your WIP. Can't figure out where to take your story next or you just don't know what your character is thinking? Try poetry. Because it's so different from any other form of writing, it can open your mind to new possibilities.
Sometimes your brain just needs to work on something completely different for it to figure out a problem. And despite it being different from your WIP, you're still writing. You're still putting words on the page. It's just a side quest in your writing process.
Develop emotions of your characters
Poetry is ALL about emotions. Even if you're not writing a poem about a specific emotion, they (emotions) will still come into play and this makes it a perfect format to use when you're trying to figure out your characters.
How would they write a poem? What emotions would they want to get across? If you wrote a poem about your character, what would it say? What type of poem would work best for them? Poetry doesn't have to be sad, heartbreaking stanzas. It can describe your drunk, sword-loving, chess-playing, pirate queen. There can be no rules which takes us to our next point...
Frees you from rules
This is possibly the most important part of why trying poetry is beneficial to all writers. It lets you break the rules! Poetry can be literally anything. Don't want the strict rules of a haiku or a sonnet? Throw those in the trash and write some free verse poetry.
This is especially good if you're following very specific rules or tropes in your WIP. Poetry allows you to throw that away for a moment and be free to write emotions, settings, feelings, images, or whatever else is floating around your head.
And it doesn't have to rhyme!
While emotions are an important part of poetry, so is imagery. Think about when you read a poem you like. An image forms in your head, right? It's because of the intricate and detailed description in the poem. If you struggle with not describing things well enough, what better way to work on that than with poetry that practically begs for deep, almost pinpoint descriptions.
Poetry can allow you as a writer to escape into the world in your WIP and describe the most minuscule of objects, settings, or character traits. Will you actually use the description in your work? Maybe not, but it will make the world or the character clearer in your head.
I know I sometimes struggle with describing a setting so the reader can see it in their head. I'm so focused on the characters and their feelings that I forget there is actually a space around them. Since I can't draw particularly well, I either write a whole outline on what the setting looks like, or if I'm looking for something more atmospheric, I write poems about it. You'd be surprised how well it works.
It can be therapeutic
Writers are human beings (shocking I know!) with emotions and struggles and demons (sometimes real, sometimes not). Poetry is a great way to get out everything you're feeling. Writing small snippets or stanzas can let those emotions out.
When I'm particularly pissed off, I write rage poetry. It's vicious and violent, but damn, it is helpful. It just takes the edge off of what I'm feeling and lets out every destructive thought or emotion I'm dealing with so I don't act on it. It's a great self-care exercise. It may not work if you're completely overwhelmed, but it helps me when I'm in danger of getting to that overwhelmed place.
Ok, let talk! How has poetry helped your writing? What made you give it shot in the first place? Or what's keeping you from trying poetry? Let us know in the comments below!
Sarah Perchikoff is a writer and blogger, and the Director of Brand for the Writer's Workout. She also writes for Culturess, Netflix Life, and Guilty Eats. When she's not writing, she loves to read, watch way too much TV, and further her addiction to Sour Patch Kids and french fries. You can connect with her on Twitter: @sperchikoff