Write a poem that doesn’t use your standard process – 31p31d

Day 13 of 31 poems in 31 days

The Methods to our Madness

Tire Swing
The twins playing around a tire swing.

We have spent the past few days talking about form and meter. I could use a break from that, so today lets discuss approaches to the act of writing a poem. Some people just sit down and write. They don’t have a plan or even a topic in mind. They simply sit down and start to write. Sometimes it takes them a while to get started, because they don’t have a set idea or method in mind. At other times the muse strikes them right away and before they know it, they’ve created a poem. Today I want you to think about your process of creation. First off, do you have a process? Secondly, does that process seem to work for you? Here are some parts of the process I want you to think about, along with some typical answers.

Where do you write?

  • At home
  • At work
  • At a coffee shop
  • On the bus/train/drive to work
  • Outdoors
  • At a desk
  • At a table
  • On a comfy sofa
  • In a hotel room
  • In bed

What tools do you use?

  • Pen
  • Pencil
  • Notebook
  • Journal
  • 3 x 5 Cards
  • Computer
  • Tablet
  • Audio Recorder
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Plenty of snacks
  • Music
  • Facebook

When do you write?

  • Whenever the mood strikes
  • First thing in the morning
  • In the middle of the day
  • At the end of the day
  • Whenever the kids give me a quiet moment
  • At work when the boss isn’t looking
  • On my lunch break

How long are your sessions?

  • I don’t have a set length
  • I spend about a half hour a session
  • I spend an hour or more per session
  • I like to spend an entire day just writing poetry
  • I concentrate on the number of poems, not on the time

How do you choose your subjects?

  • I write about the events in my life
  • I take items from the news or other mediums
  • I try to imagine other characters and voices
  • I write about the things I see
  • I just make stuff up

How do you prepare?

  • Just sit down and start
  • Take a walk first
  • Exercise first
  • Meditate first
  • Keep a list of possible topics
  • Read the newspaper
  • Read other people’s poetry
  • Reread my previous session’s work
  • Scream

What writing methods do you use?

  • Just write the poem
  • Write an outline
  • Automatic writing
  • Start in prose then convert to poem
  • Convert entries from journal

How do you edit or revise?

  • I don’t
  • I correct spelling and grammar errors
  • I revise as I go
  • I reread the poem and look for errors or parts that could be better but I don’t spend too long on it
  • I rework my poems extensively, often changing order, word choice and adding new parts

Today’s Poetry Assignment

Today is a two-part assignment. The first part is to think about your method of writing poetry. Please tell us about your work style in the comments, even if you aren’t posting your poetry in the comments.

The second part is to shake up your process. If you have a lot of structure, try loosening up. If you write very loosely, try adding some structure to the process. Find a new place to write or use a different tool. The change doesn’t have to be major, but if you post your poem, please tell us what you changed.


  1. Where?
    All of the above except while driving (unless I’m a passenger) — and I am not often in hotel rooms.

    What tools?
    In order of preference:
    extra: thesaurus when necessary

    All of the above (though boss and kids no longer apply).

    Length of sessions?
    No set length.

    Choice of subjects?
    All of the above.

    Sometimes 2,4,5,7.

    1,3,5, sometimes 4.

    Revision / editing?
    All of the above — not necessarily all at the same time or all for the same poem.

  2. I usually write poetry in the morning, during the two hours my husband and I are getting our host home clients up and ready or sometimes before they’re both up. (I write fiction and devotions early morning and during the day when my clients are at day programming four days a week.) I use my laptop and sit in my recliner. Poetry sessions go from a few minutes to a half hour or so, unless I’m getting a poem ready for publication then the revision can go longer. I write a poem a day so I don’t wait until I get inspired. I usually write to prompts or if I don’t have a prompt I make my own: a photo, a wordle, or something on the internet. Often my poems come from my prayer life, something I experience or something that’s been on my mind. I edit a bit while I write the poem, usually I don’t try to perfect it unless I want to submit it for publication.

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