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ServiceScape Incorporated

How To Write a Love Poem


Love has been the ultimate poetry topic since poetry's beginning. It is one of the strongest emotions after all, and one that sometimes doesn't even feel like words will do it justice. Getting started on a love poem can seem daunting. It's deeply personal and when the subject is so meaningful there can be a lot of pressure to get it just right. We have heard that there are so many "rules" over the years when it comes to good poetry, and while there are certainly rules that make good writing in fact good, poetry is one of those forms of writing that can be much more subjective and "looser" in terms of the rules. This is especially liberating when it comes to writing about love.

There are certainly steps to take that can improve poetry writing in general, and many of these can be applied to writing about any subject. So, for beginners, and anyone who needs a refresher about poetry writing, general writing guidelines, and then most specifically writing about love, the below points will go a long way in leveling up those love poems or give you a place to start if you're ready to get those heartfelt feelings on paper.

1. Read other love poems for inspiration

Reading classic love poems will provide inspiration for writing love poems of your own. As a writer, it's always helpful to read, but even more helpful to read within the genre you want to write. Stephen King once said, If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or tools) to write. Reading and paying attention to details within writing you admire is a great way to get you thinking about the poetry you'd want to create yourself. And since we are discussing love poems, when reading these think about all the different ways poets say "I love you" within their work and what love means to you and how you'd want to express it metaphorically and symbolically. Reading is the most important thing any writer can do to improve and be inspired. Often when a writer is stuck or experiencing writer's block, the best advice is to read. Inspiration will follow!

2. Think about your feelings for the person/subject of your poem

Think about the person, creature, place, thing, the subject of your poem, and what feelings you want to express about them. Not all love poems have to simply have the message of "I love you" but rather can dig further into the depth of what love means to you when associated with something in particular. It could be a happy and joyous love or a tortured love. It could be about passion or the lack thereof. It could be about how different fun is with someone or something you love or when the fun is gone after love. There are a range of feelings to be expressed in love poems, so think about what your feelings are for your subject matter and let the words flow from there.

3. Start small

Think about a single moment or experience you shared with the person you want to write about. It's also helpful to write down any words or phrases you associate with them, and then start small utilizing those words, phrases, or that one experience. A short poem of a few lines or even less is a good way to get the creativity flowing and start to familiarize yourself with love poems and the emotion that comes along with them. Try writing a haiku or even a brief reflective idea that may either stand on its own or become incorporated into a longer poem later. Some of the most impactful and heartfelt writing can be short and simple but have endless depth. Simply getting started can be more than half the battle, so don't think you have to write a long narrative love story to make meaningful poetry. Quality outweighs quantity every time.

4. Write first, edit later

Nothing kills creativity like editing as you are writing. The first draft can (and often should) be full of liberties and mistakes and writing that might not even make sense because getting the ideas and feelings out is what first drafts are all about. Editing is a more technical part of the writing process, and it can impede the creative process. Don't think about how the poem isn't perfect or you can't find the right word or description just yet. Write first, the refining and perfecting will come later. But once you have your ideas in order, be sure not to neglect editing either. Love poems are deeply personal so looking at them from a technical angle might not feel right, but it is important to make the writing the best it can be.

5. Read your poems out loud

Reading out loud helps you pick up on the way the words sound and flow together in ways that you may miss or not realize while reading silently. This can allow you to see if your word choice is working well, if your sensory details are hitting the way you intended, and if your emotion is coming across in the way you envisioned. Reading aloud is important for any type of writing and should always be part of the editing process. This allows you to hear your poems from a reader's point of view.

6. Utilize literary devices

Using tools like metaphor, simile, personification, allegory, and so on are some of the things that make poetry so powerful. Poems are often known for being deep or even interpretative, and this is especially true for love poems. These devices invite the reader to think deeply and draw their own conclusions or link their own experiences to what they feel through the use of them.

7. Use sensory descriptions

Sensory descriptions are one of the most important aspects of good writing. They are about showing versus telling. This comes down to emotion, thoughts, feelings, and even expressing ideas in simpler ways without outright telling the reader in stiff language. Every few lines ask yourself if these are verses the reader can see, smell, hear, feel, and taste firsthand. If the answer is no, then you will want to infuse your lines with more sensory descriptions. This is especially true for love poems because we often associate our feelings with certain aspects that appeal to the senses. Perhaps a certain food reminds you of the subject of your love poem, so describe its taste, texture, and smell as an example. Always look to appeal to the senses, this is where powerful writing emerges.

8. Make it deeply personal

In order to make your love poem deeply personal, it should express ideas that are particular to the relationship you are writing about and are entirely unique. Try to avoid clichés, outdated language, and broad references because then it will seem like anyone could have written the piece and it could be about anyone. Be sure to include references and feelings that make up the special relationship and could only be about that relationship.

9. Choose the form of your poem

While free verse poetry has risen in popularity in the modern era, there are so many different forms of poetry that serve as a great starting point. Some writers do better when they have parameters they must stay within, plus it's a great challenge to get the creative juices flowing. Look up the different forms of poems like haiku, villanelle, quatrain, and so on, all with their own set of rules (number of lines, rhyme scheme, meter, etc.) to familiarize yourself with poetry in all its possible forms. Being able to incorporate versatility into your writing is always valuable, even if you do end up gravitating toward free verse poetry.

10. Write what you know

Writing what you know doesn't necessarily mean only sticking to topics you know about or have experienced firsthand. Writing what you know means there should be an emotional truth that you have experienced on some level and has been part of your life. Even fictional poems, or any work of art, will have pieces of the artist within the creation. To write a love poem, you will likely have a subject in mind when beginning, but even if you don't have only one subject you can draw upon multiple experiences and topics to bring together one feeling you know to be true. Whether fiction or nonfiction, emotional truth is what makes writing resonate.

Love is one of the core topics of poetry that has been around since the beginning, and this topic will not be going anywhere in the future. Love is a feeling everyone is familiar with, and everyone has their own ideas and associations with what it is about and all the complications that come along with it. This is one of the most powerful emotions for writers to focus on, and while taking into consideration all the tips for what makes writing standout, truly moving poetry will emerge in the name of love.

Header image by Debby Hudson.

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