Updated September 2023
Writing good poetry takes dedication, many attempts, some rewrites, and of course, time. But not every poetry exercise or lesson needs to take hours. In fact, the experts at Writer’s Relief know a few great ways to improve your poetry that take less than ten minutes! When you want to give your poetry a quick, effective boost, try one of these methods.
Ways To Improve Your Poetry In Under Ten Minutes
Imagine you’re on stage reading your poetry at an open mic night or poetry slam. Hearing how your poetry sounds instead of silently reading it to yourself offers a whole new perspective, and it’s a technique every poet should use during the revision process. After you’ve edited and refined your poem, find a quiet spot and read it aloud to yourself. Do it a few times, too, and at different speeds. Notice where you trip up or where the wording sounds awkward, and mark those spots. Now you know which lines need a little extra work! Bonus: You may enjoy the experience of reading your poetry aloud so much that you sign up for your next local open mic night!
For the first minute or two, mark any metaphors, similes, or idioms in your poem. While not all metaphors or similes are clichés, flagging them will make it easier to rewrite any noticeable offenders. This also gives you the opportunity to strengthen and expand any metaphors to improve your poetry. Keep in mind, not all clichés are bad: The trick to using a cliché is to know you’re doing it and to know you’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do—not because you’ve given up on finding a better way. After you’ve marked your focus spots, play around with your word choices and concentrate on making your comparisons more concrete and interesting.
Revision Mad Libs
Many of us have played the game Mad Libs, where you substitute words for blanks in a story—to hilarious results. This technique follows a similar principle, but the result could be a better, stronger poem. Go through your poem and quickly remove two to four words (verbs, nouns, or adjectives). Choose words that have power due to line breaks, sentence structure, rhythm, etc. Once you have selected your words, it’s time to play poetry Mad Libs! Replace the now missing words in the poem with other words. Your new words can be synonyms for the word you removed, or you can be adventurous and choose entirely different words to see how your poem changes.
Play around and see what happens—the idea is to think outside your usual vocabulary box. Using a thesaurus (online or print) is highly encouraged. Just be careful: You don’t want to make the mistake of inserting words just because you think they sound more “poetic.”
While these quick writing tips won’t replace thoughtful creation and editing, they are handy ways to help your poetry reach its full potential. For more writing advice for poets, check out the list of great articles here.
And once your poems are perfected, Writer’s Relief can help you find the perfect journals to submit your work to! Our research experts are writers (and poets!) too, and we know the ins and outs of boosting your odds of getting published. Send your work to our Review Board today to learn how we can help!
Question: What is your favorite technique for making quick poetry revisions?