writing your feelings
As we are sometimes reminded, writing about how we feel doesn’t necessarily make for great poetry. I would argue that it is essential to put emotion into your poetry, to give it some heart. I also believe, as discussed before, that poetry can be healing and therapeutic, even in the worst of situations, and these benefits cannot be ignored when we think about writing. However, I agree that an uncontrolled splurge of feeling isn’t always the best way to go about making a readable, impactful poem. So here are some thoughts on how to make your writing both more therapeutic and more readable.
- Try avoiding mentioning the name of the feeling you are describing too many times. Instead, focus on its properties. What colour is it? What shape does it take? What does it taste like? Sound like? Feel like? Sadness could be salt under your tongue, or happiness could be the sound of a plane taking off.This is not only a tip on craft, but also a way of making your writing a more therapeutic practice. When you allow yourself to visualise your feeling completely, you can approach it differently. When you have something concrete to confront, it can be easier to do so.
- Your feelings are yours only, and that uniqueness is the one of the most compelling aspects of the poem. However, you could try looking for the elements of your poem that are more “universal”, and working on these. This could be where you do name your feeling, or where you acknowledge that others have experienced similar feelings. This makes your poem more accessible and possibly more helpful to others, “paying it forward” in terms of the emotional value of the art form.This is also therapeutic, because it makes you aware that your experiences, while unique, are not strange, or wrong, or even necessarily unusual. Before writing, you could try looking up other poems on similar themes. Sometimes reading someone’s meditation on your emotions can be helpful in itself, improving your craft but also letting you know you are not alone.
- Play around with different poetic forms. Sometimes the repetition of a vilanelle might aid a meditation on grief, or another feeling that plays repeatedly on your mind. Or the sonnet form, used in its traditional way, could be a great way of writing a love poem.This could be helpful in the same way as repeating a mantra. Focusing on a rhyme scheme, for example, serves a double purpose: it forces you to reflect, line by line, on your feelings and experiences; however, it can also give you space to free yourself from the feeling itself, and focus on the writing.
I hope these tips have given some insight into both the craft and the therapeutic value of poetry. Throughout my life, I have found writing poetry incredibly helpful emotionally, but I have also learned (am still learning!) to harness this. Until next time, why not try writing an emotional poem- but using the tips above to make it different?
Blog written by Becky Balfourth