How to think like a poet

Thinking like a poet means having a special mind set that will help you develop your writing. You don’t even have to write poetry to use this to your advantage. Here’s why you should think like a poet and how to do so.

Who or what is a poet?

Let’s get rid of the cliches. When I mean poet, I don’t mean a hippy talking about peace, love and appreciating sunlight. I don’t mean a melancholic bohemian who wears a scarf all year round and cried at open-mics either.

To me, a poet is someone who can decode the symbols of the universe and create something new out of them.

Some like to say that poetry describes what cannot be described. I think a poet is someone who is mindful and can look beyond the obvious meanings of the world around them.

(Deffo not a poet, am I right?)

Why should I think like a poet?

It’s up to you whether you follow my advice on this, but if you want to be a good writer, I strongly believe that you should firstly become a good poet.

Poetry, in both strict form and free-verse, lets you play around with language within strict boundaries. This will obviously help you develop some language problem solving skills.

Poetry should describe abstract nouns using the concrete. If you know how to think like a poet, you will write like one too. No more wish-washy sounding sentences. You’ll find the right image for the right occasion and emotion.

Poetry will teach you the rhythm of sentences, and show you how anything you write can sound pleasing to the ear.

Can you see the poetry? Anyways, I think once you try and think that way, and write that way, you’ll see lots of improvement in your writing. It’s especially good if you’re feeling like you’re stuck and your writing isn’t improving.

How do I poet??

I’ve spoken to many people who write for pleasure and for a living, I’ve been lucky to do my creative writing course and then the MA. I feel a lot more empowered now to speak about the people I’ve met and what they have all taught me about their practice.

Poets tend to agree that we’ve got one thing in common – the way we see the world. Most, through single shots of the our world, through just one frame on the film, that we can then meddle with. We can mix and rearrange these frames in any way we desire to create art. So finally to the cream of it, below are the steps you can take to think more like a poet.

Buy a journal and use it

A journal can really be a writers best friend. You don’t have to write in it everyday, but it sure is helpful to do so. It’s nice to be able to recall your day and focus on the images and weird connections you’ve made in the events that occurred to you. The key point is to write down any weird or fascinating things you see, preferably before you forget them.

The way I do it is through writing down all the one-liners and poem title or subject ideas I get throughout the day. They usually happen at times when my subconscious brain is roaming in the background of a task like my job, watching TV, taking a bath or taking long trips.

This practice won’t only help you remember interesting stuff you can put to your stories, but will also make you more receptive of the world around you. If you have problems with wondering off too far, this is also a great mindfulness exercise.

Be aware

Leading on from the previous point, try and be more mindful of your surroundings. Even if you walk to work or to your car the same way everyday, try and see it in a new light and you might spot something that tells a story. Something as small as a lost dummy or a packet of crisps can send the imagination running.

Take writer walks

And again, leading on from the previous point, a good thing to do is go on dedicated writerly walks. Just you, perhaps friends, and a notebook (perhaps a Dictaphone if you’re fancy?) Try writing a poem, or just jotting down the things you see, that will end up explaining themselves. I have a lot of these so-called “walk poems” in my poetry pamphlet. They are very straight forward to write, but can be effective in giving several layers of meaning across in just one line.

Do you agree? How do you think poets think?

If you take this advice one, please let me know how it goes. Share any thoughts in the comments below.

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