5 Steps to Writing a Poem by JoAnne Myers

The New Year has begun so why not try your literary hand at something a bit different like writing a poem. JoAnne Myers is here to give you some tips to do just that.

Why Write in a Different Form

Quite simply, writing in a different form broadens your narrative horizons and helps you think outside the box. It spurs your imagination and enables you to see the world from a different perspective.

About JoAnne Myers

JoAnne is a long-time resident of southeastern Ohio. She worked in the blue-collar industry most of her life, but she also has written and published several novels and paints with oil on canvas her favorite medium. When not busy with hobbies or work, she spends time with relatives, her dog Jasmine, and volunteers within the community. She is a member of the International Women’s Writing Guild, Savvy Authors, Coffee Time Romance, Paranormal Romance Guild, True Romance Studios, National Writers Association, the Hocking Hill's Arts and Craftsmen Association, The Hocking County Historical Society and Museum, and the Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center. She believes in family values and in following one's dreams. Her original paintings can be found at Books and Paintings by Joanne.

Find JoAnne Myers Online

Email: joannemyers at frontier dot com
Amazon Author Page
Facebook Author Page
Books and Paintings by JoAnne

JoAnne: In Her Own Words

I have enjoyed art since childhood. My collection of poems, entitled, “Poems About Life, Love, and Everything in Between,” spanned 30 years of writing. This collection of 134 poems, provides a glimpse into my heart and mind. It was written with love and respect for others. Some poems were written in a time of sorrow, others in joyous celebration. Life is like that.

To kick off the new year with generosity, I will be awarding 2 people, residents of the Continental United States, who comment, leaving their email with their comment, their choice of one of my books. This is open for comments until Jan. 14, 2015. (Do not leave your email address as a hot link. Write it out the way you see my email address written out above so the spammers won't grab it.) These are the book choices:
  • Murder Most Foul
  • Wicked Intentions
  • Twisted Love
  • The Crime of the Century
  • Flagitious
  • Loves, Myths, and Monsters
  • Poems About Life, Love, and Everything in Between.
I will post the winners' names in the comments section of this post and notify winners by email. When I notify you that you are one of my winners, please tell me which book you would like to receive.

My Tips on How to Write a Poem
by JoAnne Myers

1. The first step in any poem is coming up with subject matter. What will make the poem profound and interesting will be the hidden details or qualities you discover, or what the subject reminds you of, your unique perspective. Do not feel that you have to choose profound or "poetic" material. Anything can be the subject for a poem, such as my poem “Why Do People Lie?”

2. The key to writing about a person, place, or thing is to concentrate deeply on the subject and choose specific words to best capture the subject. Do not worry about "style," about writing in a "beautiful" or a "poetic" way. Poems do not have to rhyme, but should be heartfelt. If your attention is focused on "being poetic," that takes your attention away from the subject of your poem.

Even if the poem is about you or your life, you should focus on accurately communicating an aspect of your experience. For example, my poem “Being a Laundress” came from the fact that I work as a laundress in a nursing home.

3. You also need to communicate your insights to the reader. Do not state the obvious. Everyone knows that grass is green, and fire is hot. You should choose words that describe the smell or taste or texture of the grass, or how the grass makes you feel.

4. Choose the right words that express your subject matter. Think of the words "sun and light bulb.” Both describe light, but different kinds of light. The best form for your poem will depend on what it is about and the mood and feelings you want to create in the reader.

5. If you are writing about a feeling or an abstract concept such as Love or Death, which cannot actually be seen or heard, think about it like electricity. It is invisible. However, you can see the effect of electricity on objects that are visible. You see a room light up when you flip the switch. You see and hear a television program when you plug the television cord into an electrical socket.

Abstractions such as Love and Death do not look, sound, or smell like anything. Nevertheless, they affect everything around them. Describe their effect on those they have touched.

5. Rewrite. Behind most successful writing, whether that is a novel or poem, there is a huge amount of rewriting.Write different versions, then look them over and compare. How do they look on the page? Try reading them aloud. Which versions are most interesting to read? Are there any places where the look or sound becomes distracting, for example, if you have one very long line that sticks out too much?

Every poet has his or her own way of working. There is no right or wrong method. Just have fun with it, and the poem will usually come together. Here are two poems of mine to illustrate what I mean.

Turn A Page

I now turn a page of life’s great book,
and start on a sheet that’s bright and new.
I now have a chance to start at the top,
and be careful the whole way through.
My last page is filled with lines of life,
that’ll soon be just memories of times gone by.
Of lessons I learned, good times I had,
and the friends I made through and through.
Those lessons and friends will not be forgotten,
though the next page be ever so fair.
For the leaf that tells of these past years,
shall be for eternity there.
This year marks the thirtieth year,
of my joyful birth.
I hope to live on forever,
and increase abundantly in worth.
So as I turn slowly the well worn page,
that tells of all these happy years.
I am rather glad and rather sad.
I’m happy, but then there are tears.
I bid adieu to my family and friends,
and gaze upon the new.
But remember though I’m happy or sad,
I often think, dear life, of you.

I Could

I could count the passing years,
or build an endless bridge.
Or count the loss of past lovers,
hoping someday to make amends.
I could walk a million miles,
or sail an ocean ridge.
Nothing is forever,
and everything depends.
I could tell you my secrets,
and hope they all come true.
Or give my love to a stranger,
someone just passing through.
I could wait until I am older,
to see if I am wiser.
Or count my blessings now,
and while away the hours.
I could make my dreams last forever,
by locking them away.
Or make new ones with you,
if only you had stayed.
I could forgot all my troubles,
and all the wrong I’ve done.
Or remember how happy we were,
back when we were young.
I could dance in the dark,
wishing with all my might,
that you were here with me,
till the morning light.
I could love you forever.
What a simple thing to do.
If only you were here,
and if only we weren’t through.

Buy Poems About Life, Love, and Everything in Between: Outskirt Press

Winner Eligibility

Remember, JoAnne is giving away 2 print books. You must be a resident of the lower 48 to win. To enter, leave a comment with your email address between now and Jan. 14, 2015. JoAnne will post the winners' names in the comments section of this post and notify each winner by email. (Do not leave your email address as a hot link. Write it so the spammers won't harvest your address and spam you to death.)

Takeaway Truth

Try writing a poem as an exercise to free your creativity or just because you want a different way to express emotions. You may find you really like this short form.


  1. Joan,

    I checked out all your good advice
    and found it very thorough,
    so good it's good to read it twice
    while huddling in my borough

    It's really cold outside right now
    and though I should be walking,
    I'd rather write, if you allow,
    and hope I get you talking.


    1. *LOL* Excellent, Margaret. Enjoyed it.

    2. Thank you Margaret. That made me laugh. All the best to you.

  2. Thank you for the poetry info. Enjoyed your poems.

    1. Hello, Jeanine. A little poetry on a cold January day is nice, isn't it?

    2. Hi Jeanine, thank you for stopping in. I really appreciate it.

  3. I enjoyed your information on poetry, JoAnne. I can see how poetry lends emotion and openness to our other writing. Thanks! caroldevaney at bellsouth dot net

    1. Thank you Carol for the kind words. All the best to you also.

  4. Poetry is a nice diversion for me. I belong to a local group of writers and there are several poets in there. My poetry isn't profound - it's just a break from my normal writing and certainly not worthy of anything. But as a novelist, I think we should all leave our comfort zones and try new things just to expand our abilities. Fascinating post, JoAnne.

    1. Thanks for dropping by, E. Yes, I think writing in a different form expands one's creativity.

    2. Hello E. Ayers, thank you for the encouraging words. I appreciate all comments. All the best.

  5. Writing poetry sharpens the author's skills. Samuel Taylor Coleridge stated: "Poetry consists of the best words in the best order." I second that!

    1. Hello Jacqueline, thank you for commenting. I enjoyed your visit.

  6. Well said, Jacquie--you for repeating what Coleridge said, and Coleridge for having said it in the first place. *g*

  7. Hello Joan, I am really happy about my post being so well liked. It has been a nice day. Thank you very much.