On Writing Poetry (by me)

I have not written many poems lately because I am currently reviewing poetry submissions for a new project called Blessed Creation: A Christian Poetry Collection. This publication will provide writers the opportunity to spotlight an aspect of God’s creation with their poetry. If interested, please visit the Call for Submissions page. In today’s blog, I want to share my process for writing poetry.

I usually start my poetry writing process with a memory. If I am not inspired by a memory, it could be a dream, a beloved animal or flower, an art piece, a sermon, or someone I saw on the street… Really the possibilities for inspiration are endless! From this inspiring idea, I develop and jot down one or two lines for the poem.

Next, I try to decide if what form the poem should take. (See http://www.shadowpoetry.com to learn more about poetry forms.) If my primary purpose is to communicate a concrete message, I will often choose free verse. Mangling a message to fit into a rhyming or syllable form simply will not do. However, I love expressing flexible ideas through rhyming poetry forms like a sonnet or rhyme royal. Rhyming poems can be fun, beautiful, and complex. I personally prefer to use near rhymes instead of obvious rhymes to make it sound more sophisticated. (Visit http://www.rhymezone.com to access near rhyme suggestions for your own poetry.) Syllable poetry forms like haiku and sijo are useful to capture the short attention span of new readers. (Visit http://www.wordcalc.com if you don’t like counting syllables by hand.) When no poetry form seems suitable, I simply invent my own poetry form! Creative people create. We can’t help it. Once the form is selected, I can add more lines to the poem until it is complete.

Once the poem is finished, I reflect on the message of the poem. For me, there is always a balance to be struck. I review and ask myself questions like:

  • Does the poem honor God?
  • Is it original?
  • Was I transparent and “for real” about my true emotions?
  • Would it be considered offensive or judgmental?
  • Does it reveal God’s heart for His people?
  • Is it too syrupy sweet?
  • Does it glorify sinful practices in any way?
  • Does it speak truth according to the Word of God?

If I don’t like my answers, it is time to rewrite the poem to ensure the integrity of my work as a Christian writer. In obedience to what God has called me to do, one thing is certain—I keep writing. My readers here on this site really encourage me to fulfill my calling as a writer. I could not continue day in and day out with your supportive likes and comments (which I can read although they do not publicly post). (If you seek an encouraging poetry community, you can find one at http://www.poetrysoup.com.)

That’s it! I hope the review of my writing process helps you in some way. If you landed here because of your interest in writing but do not consider yourself a Christian, please visit Draw Near’s About God page. Additionally, I am happy to read and reply to emails if you simply have questions or concerns about the Christian faith. (See the Contact page.) Maybe there is a more significant reason you landed on this page. Thanks for reading and God bless!

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