Take the poetry challenge!
Because all creative endeavours must have play at their heart. Poet, visual artist and frequent NCW tutor Helen Ivory offers a taster exercise on how to use play in your writing to develop new material.

Stuck for a new poem idea? Desperate to get words onto the page? Or maybe you need a fun exercise to refresh your writing routine?

Below, poet, visual artist and frequent NCW Academy tutor Helen Ivory offers a taster exercise on how to use play in your writing to develop new material.

Helen tutors our online intermediate Develop Your Poetry course, starting Monday 12 February. Find out more →


When I sit down to write a poem, I will already have a scrap of something that might grow up to be a poem in my head or notebook. I think this instinct for what is poem-worthy develops over time – the more you write, the more you see the world you inhabit, with magpie eyes. Once you start thinking of yourself as a poet, events and images and snips of conversation become more significant; it’s material for you to play with and to make something from.

As adults we do not often get a chance to play, yet I believe that all creative endeavours must have play at their heart. At play we have a chance to try things out: what if what if what if? And how do you know what you are going to write if you don’t what it down and see what you’ve written? Often writing is like that – you surprise yourself – where did that come from? Poems are very much like dreams in that respect.

all creative endeavours must have play at their heart

Try this: write a list of sentences beginning with the word ‘Because’ – be as literal or as imaginative as you want to be in those sentences. Set a timer, and write for ten minutes. Giving yourself finite time often makes you more productive and stops you thinking too carefully, which is an enemy of the initial creative process.

Now read back. Does any scrap here grab your magpie eye that you can develop?  Perhaps your list of Becauses stands on its own? Have you written something that has taken you by surprise? Perhaps you might consider taking one of our poetry writing courses, which are chock-full with writing exercises to unearth more materials for writing poems from, and tips and hints to take your writing in exciting and unexpected directions. We can also help you shape your poems in ways that make them interesting and readable.


 width=Helen Ivory is a poet and collage artist with over 15 years teaching experience at all levels, including for The Poetry School, The Arvon Foundation and The Poetry Society. She is an exhibiting assemblage artist and has been editor of the webzine Ink Sweat & Tears since 2010: https://inksweatandtears.co.uk/ . She is currently working on her sixth collection for Bloodaxe Books: How to Construct a Witch.

 

 

 

 

You may also like...

Writing the grotesque body with Heather Parry

In this episode of The Writing Life podcast, author Heather Parry discusses writing the grotesque body and reimagining gothic tropes.

Calendar

19th February 2024

The Writing Life
Tips and Advice
Listen

Writing and chronic illness with Polly Atkin

In this episode of The Writing Life podcast, author Polly Atkin discusses writing and navigating the publishing industry as a chronically ill person.

Calendar

5th February 2024

The Writing Life
Tips and Advice
Listen

Top tips for submitting your writing to publications

Submitting your stories to competitions and publications can be exciting, time-consuming and nerve-wracking. In this article, writer and NCW Academy tutor Benjamin Johncock shares his top tips to help your work stand the best chance of success.

Calendar

2nd February 2024

Masters of the Craft
Tips and Advice
Read