The process of writing and editing a poem:
- Write some words down that seem to fit together
- Choose a theme or meaning for the poem (this is step 1 when working from a prompt)
- Write some more words that fit
- Choose a form that seems appropriate
- Fit the words to the form, add more as needed. If a syllable count form, then continue to shape the poem using syllable count. For other forms, continue to step 6.
- Work on the meter, using a meter that fits the mood of the poem (I rarely use forms with a required meter, such as a sonnet or ballad). See Mary Oliver’s The Poetry Handbook for more information on how meter affects the mood of a poem.
I use work on the meter as a way to get myself thinking about word choices in each line — I have a tendency to regard each line as having the best words possible before I have even done any editing — meter is an excuse to get in there and really look at each line.
- Read the poem all the way through, making changes as necessary to convey the desired mood.
- Continue with steps 5-7 as needed, writing the poem out again after each set of edits.
- Post on this blog when ready.
- If really good, go back later and recheck syllable count/meter. Make changes as needed to better help the poem flow, fit the form, or convey meaning.