Skip to main content
Publish date:

10 Essential Rules of Poetry

If you write poems, then you’re a poet. Simple as that. But if you want to be more than an unknown versifier who hides poems in a shoe box, here are 10 guidelines for making your mark.

1. KEEP THE POETRY COMING. Paint-ers paint, teachers teach, and poets poem. To excel at writing poetry, you need to flex your poetic muscles daily, even if it’s just revising an earlier work.

2. READ POETRY BY OTHERS. Too many poets worry that their voices will be influenced by the voices of other poets. Don’t fall into this trap. You need to study what you like and do not like from other poets and use that as inspiration for your own work.

3. STUDY POETIC FORMS. While you may decide against publishing sonnets, sestinas and haiku, trying various forms can only help your poetic development. After all, the form of a poem (even free verse) is the skeleton and skin that holds the content together for the reader.

*****

The Complete Guide of Poetic Forms

Play with poetic forms!

Poetic forms are fun poetic games, and this digital guide collects more than 100 poetic forms, including more established poetic forms (like sestinas and sonnets) and newer invented forms (like golden shovels and fibs).

Click to continue.

*****

4. ATTEND OPEN MICS. Performing is optional, but poets should at least listen to the spoken word occasionally. Poetry is as much an oral as a visual genre of writing. As such, it benefits a poet to understand the sounds of poetry. Plus, open mics are great for meeting other poets.

5. EXPERIMENT. Is there a poetic “rule” you just don’t like? Try breaking it. Then, look for other rules to bend. Often, the poets who are remembered and quoted are the ones who learned to do something well and then took it in a new direction.

10 Essential Rules of Poetry, Robert Lee Brewer

6. REVISE. While there are exceptions, the best poems are written through the revision process. This is a great stage for experimenting. And if a crazy revision doesn’t work (removing all the adverbs just to see what happens?), simply revert to the last draft.

(5 ways to revise poems.)

7. CONNECT WITH OTHER POETS. Go to readings, workshops, conferences, social media sites and anywhere else you can connect. Other poets can help keep you motivated to write and submit.

8. SHARE YOUR WORK. Give your poems to friends and family as gifts. Share good collections you’ve read. Remember: As a poet, you are an ambassador of poetry to those who are afraid to read it or think it’s something they just don’t “get.”

9. SUBMIT. Consult a resource like Poet's Market (which I edit) and submit your poems to publications. Through the simple act of following guidelines and receiving feedback (whether through acceptance or rejection), you’ll learn to target an audience and revise appropriately.

10. PUBLISH ON YOUR OWN. Take a do-it-yourself stance to sharing your best work.

Sports Afield: Market Spotlight

Sports Afield: Market Spotlight

For this week's market spotlight, we look at Sports Afield, a bimonthly hunting adventure magazine.

Apart vs. A Part (Grammar Rules)

Apart vs. A Part (Grammar Rules)

This post looks at the differences between apart and a part with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2021 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 29

For the 2021 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets are tasked with writing a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Today's prompt is to write a next poem.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: 4 WDU Courses, Upcoming Webinars, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce 4 new courses, an upcoming webinar on creating an author website, and more!

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2021 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 28

For the 2021 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets are tasked with writing a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Today's prompt is to write a slow down poem.

From Script

TV Reboots, Utilizing Music to Create a Mood, and How to Grab Your Readers in Your First 10 Pages (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, interviews with "Yellowjackets" creators Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson, showrunner Tracey Wigfield and EP Franco Bario of the "Saved by the Bell" reboot, highlights from WGFestival 2021, and so much more!

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2021 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 27

For the 2021 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets are tasked with writing a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Today's prompt is to write a remix poem.

15 Promotional Ideas for Nonfiction Authors

15 Promotional Ideas for Nonfiction Authors

For the introverted writer, the process of promoting your book may seem to be a daunting, even frightening undertaking. Here, nonfiction author Rick Lauber lays out 15 promotional ideas for authors to get their books into as many hands as possible.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2021 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 26

For the 2021 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets are tasked with writing a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Today's prompt is to write a Well Blank poem.