Advice for Poets 1: Where do I Start?

The aim of this blog is to raise awareness and interest in an upcoming charity anthology of poetry called ‘The Wait’, but what we really need more than anything is as many submissions as possible… so we’ve created some short tips from our experience as creative writers to try and encourage any aspiring poets out there to pick up the quill…or laptop.

Photo by Alan Cleaver / CC BY NAME
Photo by Alan Cleaver / CC BY NAME

What to Write About?

‘Write what you know’ is commonly rolled out whenever a writer asks where they should start. But is this really the best advice?

In a way, yes it is – if you’re just starting out, you shouldn’t use all your creative energy on thinking up some totally abstract idea when there is a whole world around you to just look at and pick something from. It doesn’t have to be a great piece of imagination to make great poetry.

However, ‘write what you know’ implies that you can only write about your own experiences. There’s nothing wrong with putting yourself into the shoes of someone you know, or someone from the past or on the news. You could imagine how you would feel if you achieved a dream of yours, like climbing a mountain.

Start Small

Lots of poets start by writing simple lines or small sections of poetry. Don’t put pressure on yourself to write an epic on your first try. Try describing something small in a few lines, or writing single couplets about something you saw or felt during your day. You may not ever share these with anyone else, but its a great place to start exercising your skills. Try using a creative writing prompter for these mini-projects to exercise your brain.

Figure Out Your Style of Working

Have a think about how your brain works and how you normally approach tasks:


Are you methodical, going from A-to-B in order and getting everything right the first time, like an auditor or an engineer? In which case your style of writing may well be similar. You’re lucky in that you would probably find it easy to write by hand wherever you are, if you can find a quiet space.


You may have a more erratic style of working. Nurses for example turn their attention to hundreds of different tasks within a single hour and respond quickly to changing conditions around them, as do teachers or those with jobs that involve working with the unpredictable public. In this case, it’s perfectly alright to write your poems out of order, putting it together afterwards. Try writing on a computer if it’s too frustrating to do it by hand.

Subjects for ‘The Wait’

There are no criteria for the poetry in this anthology. We’d love to have as varied a selection as possible in terms of theme, length, style and genre. So please, send us your submissions and help us with our project!

We’re not the experts – we’d love to hear any more advice you might have on starting out writing poetry, so please email us or comment below 🙂

Thank you!


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