If you're like me, you probably have way too much on your plate. Kids, school, work, the dreaded pile of laundry gathering in the corner. How do you make time for your writing when you're so busy? One way to stay creative when you're too busy to write a book is to write a poem instead.

write a poem

Not enough time to write a book? Write a poem instead. Photo by Caitlin Regan (creative commons)

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to set aside as much time as you wanted to write? Think of how much fun it would be to sit down and work on your book uninterrupted, no distractions, just you and the blank page.

Unfortunately, you probably rarely get to spend that kind focused time on your writing. And that can make writing something as ambitious as a book very challenging, because books need long, uninterrupted periods of focus.

This is what makes writing poetry such a great alternative for busy writers. With poetry, you can take advantage of the nooks and crannies of the day for your creative outlet. Writing poems is the perfect creative habit for busy writers because the form is short enough and liberating enough to allow you to have a few moments of precious creativity without taking all day (or all year!) to write, like a book often does.

3 Steps to Write a Poem for Busy People

How do you actually write a poem? What makes poetry distinct from other types of writing? Well that's a complicated question.

Poems sometimes rhyme, but not always (for example, very few modern poems use rhyme). Poems usually have lines that break, but not always (ever heard of a prose poem). Poems usually focus on an image or a moment rather than tell a story, but not always (after all The Odyssey is just a giant, Epic poem).

In fact, it's nearly impossible to define what a poem actually is. That's one reason poems can be so perfect for busy people. Poems give you creative freedom, can be as long or as short as you want, and in the end allow you enjoy the process of creating art without requiring all day to do it.

1. First, Choose a Poetry Form

Personally, I'm all for coloring outside of the lines, for creatively breaking all the rules. However, if you want to color outside the lines, you need to have lines in the first place.

Before you start writing, choose what kind of poem you want to write. Here are a few options:

  • Haiku. Three lines of 5-7-5 syllables each respectively.
  • Free Verse. Unrhymed lines of iambic pentameter (Shakespeare's main form).
  • Sonnet. Fourteen lines of rhymed iambic pentameter, popular amongst poets like Dante, Spencer, and Shakespeare. There are several different kinds of sonnet forms to choose from. Sonnets are usually about love.
  • Blank Verse. No specific rhyme or rhythm. Basically, you choose the rules. (Most contemporary poetry is in blank verse.)

2. Next, Choose a Focus for Your Poem

What is your poem going to be about? A moment where you felt particularly alive? Perhaps it will be an ode to your soulmate? Could you choose to write about the true nature of reality? Or tell a story where you felt vulnerable?

Then, just write your poem. Let it flow from you simply and easily. Don't worry too much about making it perfect, but instead try to write the truth as well as you know it.

3. Focus Your Poem Further

Poetry is often written in many many drafts. Some poets revise and rewrite their poems for decades. This is possible because editing poetry is often a very fast process. It's easy to edit a poem because they're often quite short, and this allows you to edit your poetry until you've focused your poems completely on a single image, moment, idea, or feeling.

Here's the process. After you write your poem, read it aloud. See if you can make each word serve the deeper meaning of the poem. Is every word absolutely necessary? Cut any words that don't serve the central theme.

And if you're too busy, just set your poem aside and come back to it when you have a few minutes. One of the nice parts about writing and revising poems is that you might write twenty drafts, but each draft doesn't have to take very long.

Writing Poetry Will Help You Become a Better Writer

Since you often only have a small space to convey a lot of meaning, writing poetry forces you to focus closely on each word. You have to make each word count, and that attention to detail can help you become a much better writer. I don't consider myself a very good poet, but writing poetry has been incredibly helpful for my writing.

Besides, most of us need more poetry in our lives. When our lives are crammed full with busyness, we need something to keep us grounded in the moment, something that reminds us that we're alive, that this moment is right here and it can be wonderful… if only we pay attention.

Do you write poetry when you're busy? Why or why not?


Today, write a poem!

Set your timer for fifteen minutes (even the busiest of us can do that), choose a poetry form mentioned above, and write a poem.

When you're finished, post your poem in the comments section. And if you post a poem, please comment and give feedback on a few poems by other writers.

Have fun!

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.

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