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 narrative non-fiction with Dan Richards & Edward Parnell

In this episode of The Writing Life podcast, writers and NCW Academy tutors Dan Richards and Edward Parnell discuss the journey of writing narrative non-fiction.

Calendar

17th June 2024

Non-fiction
The Writing Life
Tips and Advice
Listen

Agent Q&A with Juliet Pickering

In this exclusive interview, Blake Friedmann Literary Agency’s Vice Head of Books Juliet Pickering shares her advice for aspiring romance writers.

Calendar

13th June 2024

Fiction
Romance
Tips and Advice
Read

Case study: Karen Francis

Discover Karen Francis, a graduate of our Develop Your Poetry course, whose debut poetry collection ‘a mother is a paperclip’ won the 2022 Hedgehog Press ‘Slim Volume’ pamphlet competition.

Calendar

12th June 2024

Case Study
Interview
Tips and Advice
Read