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The Three Phases of Writing Poetry

These three phases will help to simplify and streamline the process of writing poetry in a way that takes into account the spontaneity and impulsivity that leads to meaningful work.
The Three Phases of Writing Poetry

Poetry may seem like an ambiguous and mysterious process and, in many ways, it is.

However, these three phases will help to simplify and streamline the process in a way that takes into account the spontaneity and impulsivity that leads to meaningful poetry.

While poetry is ultimately an individual process, these steps can lead any writer down a reliable yet artistic pathway, resulting in polished poems.

The Vomit

The first phase is called the vomit. This is where the writer, sparked by a sudden flash of inspiration, frantically writes down the bare bones of a poem.

Oftentimes, the poem is inspired by some intense emotion or experience and needs to be written down in that moment, or else forgotten.

During the vomit phase, it’s important to never censor your writing. Don’t worry about anything but capturing the initial idea and rhythm of your poem. Don’t worry about grammar or structure. And for heaven’s sake, do not even think about spelling.

This phase is so important because it allows you to capture the soul of the poem, the ultimate spark of life that will make your poem ring true to the reader.

Once captured, leave the poem for a while and then come back to it in the next phase.

The Shuffle

The second phase, called the shuffle, is essentially a creative edit. However, rather than traditionally editing for grammar and punctuation, allow your creative side to merge with your intellectual side and try to edit the poem primarily motivated by feeling.

This is why this phase is called the shuffle. Because you should view your poem as a deck of cards rather than a mere piece of writing. Look at its skeleton rather than its surface. Reach into your heart and make bold changes.

This phase is an opportunity to see the poem through a different lens, one that is still primarily driven by emotion.

The Sift

The final stage, the sift, is a stage that is much closer to traditional editing but with some differences.

Imagine your poem is a shell in the sand that you’ve scooped up. Move your hand gently and let all the sand surrounding it sift through your fingers and fall away to reveal the beautiful shell.

In that vein, look for all the unnecessary words that you can take away. Strip your poem down to the essentials. Look at it from an editorial perspective and focus on creating as clear and concise a message as possible.

However, don’t think of this final stage as completely editorial. While you should still focus on grammar and spelling in this phase, it’s also important to fine-tune the mood and tone of the poem.

Remember, poetry is about a love of language, so be sure to read the poem aloud and feel how it rolls off your tongue.

Conclusion

All in all, these three phases will help you compartmentalize the various creative processes that go into writing good poetry. Having these clear distinctions can make the editing process much more straightforward and enjoyable.

However, as always, take these phases with a grain of salt—because poetry can be whatever you want it to be. Don’t overthink it and follow your feelings rather than your intellect. That’s ultimately the beauty of poetry and the magic of it.