Exercise for Beating Writer’s Block and Clarifying the Theme of a Poem

According to Merriam-Webster, poetry can be defined as:

1 a : metrical writing : verse 
  b : the productions of a poet : poems 
2 : writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm 
3 a : something likened to poetry especially in beauty of expression 
  b : poetic quality or aspect
    // the poetry of dance

Historically, poetry is structured. The structure is a skeleton, it’s the bones of the thing. Words, imagery, metaphor and simile; these are the flesh of the poem. It’s clay. Mold it to your liking. Give it character, make it recognizable, breathe life into it!

If you ever find yourself stuck in a rut (something I struggle with rather frequently), it can help to experiment with different poem structures. That way you aren’t starting with a completely blank page. Well, technically you are, but not really.

Take haikus, for example. The Merriam-Webster definition of a haiku is as follows:

: an unrhymed verse form of Japanese origin having three lines containing usually five, seven, and five syllables respectively
also : a poem in this form usually having a seasonal reference

So, let’s say I want to write a poem but I don’t know where to start. I could, and often do, warm up with a quick haiku! The shortened form of a haiku, in my opinion, is perfect for discovering which themes to explore in longer writings. Whatever first comes to mind for the haiku, well, I trust my gut. Chances are, it’s a theme of some interest. Condensing that sentiment into 17 syllables is a great exercise for developing clarity of intent.

5 syllables, followed by 7, and another 5, usually evoking the seasons. That’s a good starting point, no? That’s the bones of it; 575:

In a bashful blush
the trees, my ears, they turn red
thinking about change.

Is it great? No. But it gives me a place to start! From here, I suppose I can plan a sonnet about autumn, about crisp winds that turn the nose as red as leaves, and about puppy love that leaves ones ears redder than the biting winds.

Or maybe I’ll just write another haiku instead! 😉


Thank you so much for reading! Do you have any warm up exercises to beat writers block? Feel free to share yours in the comments below.😊🍂

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comment 2 comments
  • Stuart Danker

    I myself follow John Steinbeck’s technique of writing a letter to somebody. That way, I don’t need to pressure myself into writing, but I’m still writing, and if I so wished, I could tell my ‘recipient’ all about what I’m writing, which MAY turn into the article itself. Of course, these letters are unsent, because it would be pretty embarrassing otherwise. Thanks for this post! Btw, you have a very pretty site, Sam!

    • Sam

      Ooh, I’m unfamiliar with his technique but will def check it out!! Thank you for your compliments!!!

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