Poem Prompts: Effective Ways to Improve Your Poetry Writing

Poem prompts, just like any writing prompts, can help to improve your writing when you want or need to write poetry. Poetry prompts can help you by providing you with creative writing ideas when you feel stuck or need inspiration.

They can also help you to improve your writing skills by challenging you to write about things you wouldn’t normally consider writing about.

If you want to write a poem, the best place to start is with your own experiences.

Creative Writing Prompts

Creative writing prompts can include poetry prompts or can be modified so that the idea given in the suggested writing is done in poetry form rather than story form. Any writing suggestion given can be made into a poem.

If you are having trouble finding poetry prompts that challenge you sufficiently, a quick search for creative writing prompts is the next best thing.

For example, if a creative writing prompt tells you to write a story about your favorite holiday, you can easily use the same topic or suggestion to construct a prose poem about the same topic. A poem based on any topic can help you to improve your writing skills.

poem prompts

Start Writing

Once you have found a list of ideas or topics to write about, the only thing left to do is to start writing. Try not to put it off so that you can think about exactly what you want to say. Just write.

For example, if you are asked to write a poem inspired by your favorite vacation or about a time you traveled somewhere, don’t waste time on a trip down memory lane.

Write about the first thing that you think of, as that is often going to be the best thing for you to write about. If you went on a really great vacation to Myrtle Beach last summer, and that’s what you thought of first, then write about Myrtle Beach.

Don’t try to think of something deeper or more interesting. The first memory that came to mind is the one that you will most likely have more to say about.

The first line is often the hardest to write. Once you get started, though, and you’re no longer looking at a blank page, a lot of the pressure goes away. Feel free to write any sort of poem you want to with the ideas given.

You can write an acrostic poem using all of the letters of your name. You can write a haiku. You can write a poem with no line breaks. Write whatever comes most naturally when working with poetry writing prompts.

The following are ways to prompt yourself to write poems.

Write a Poem Using the Following Words

In this sort of prompt, you make a list of words or ask someone else to give you random words, and you work the words into the body of a poem. This works to inspire and challenge a poet by giving them words that must be included and leaving the writer to fill in the blanks in a way that makes sense.

The following is an example of this “Use the following words” format.


Write a poem using the following words: Dark, light, mirror, swan, tree.

The dark tree stood looming over the lake, 

Casting its shadow upon the water. 

The water’s surface that the shadow didn’t touch reflected the light like a mirror.

The swan, elegant and poised, studied itself in the water’s reflection. 

The dark and brooding tree could not stifle the swan’s beauty. 

Is this the best poem ever written? Definitely not. However, the “include the following words” format does push you to write creatively to work around the challenges presented in words that are often random and unrelated.

When you ask someone else, a family member or friend, to supply the words, ask them to do it randomly, or tell them that you want to write a poem using the “following words” format.

Depending upon your skill and confidence level, you can even ask them to make it tricky.

Poetry Prompts

The following are some ideas for poetry prompts. Feel free to write a poem following these exact suggestions or modify them to fit your own needs and interests.

  • Write a poem to your future self.
  • Write a poem about eating lunch. Describe the food, the setting, and the company you share your meal with. 
  • Write two poems; one to a person you love and one to a person you strongly dislike. Tell them why you feel the way that you do. When you have finished writing, combine the poems and make them a poem that makes sense. 
  • Write a poem about the family members that mean the most to you. 
  • Write a poem that changes the lyrics of your two favorite songs. 
  • Write a poem that is just three lines long.
  • Write a poem about a skill or fact that you recently learned. Make it rhyme. 
  • Write a poem about two events that happened simultaneously but are wildly different in nature. 
  • Write a poem about your life up to this point. 
  • Write a poem about your life ten years ago and how much it has changed. 
  • Write a poem about the life of someone you admire but have never met. 
  • Write a poem about the life of someone you admire that you know well. 
  • Write a poem about a particular time in your life when you felt afraid. 
  • Write a poem about each of the five senses. Never say what the sense is. 
  • Write a poem about your inspiration in life. 
  • Write a poem about what it would mean to be someone’s inspiration. 
  • Write a poem about how cold water feels on a hot summer day. 

Take the Reader on a Guided Tour

When you write a poem, you want to take the reader on a guided tour of your mind and your feelings. Describe things vividly. Make the reader imagine the world you have created for them in each word and line of your poem.

If you can inspire a reader to imagine that they are learning the lessons of life alongside you, or if you can inspire the reader to imagine the world from a new perspective, then you have created something truly beautiful and worthwhile.

Perspective, feeling, and depth are important to poets, and when you hope to touch someone or share a feeling, and you are able to accomplish that by sharing your memories, you get more out of it.

More rewarding than social media likes, a Pinterest share, or a repost, you have shared an intimate moment with the reader when you connect with them via poetry.

poem prompts

Write About the Past

When you were a child, you saw things differently. Write about it. Write about your relationship with your caregivers. Was your mother your hero?

The lines of a poem about what inspired you when you were still young and innocent to the ways of the world can be more fantastical and whimsical than the most creative fiction in existence. Write about a song you sang with your grandmother as a toddler.

Write about the first time you put pen to paper as an author and wrote your first line. Write about the music that you listened to, to get your imagination going. Write about the stories you read that led you to write your own.

Write about the first rejection letter you got from a publishing house. Write about the night you celebrated having finished your first major writing project. Explore your past.

Any ideas you have at all can become writing prompts. Any words that pop into your head can act as poetry prompts. All the things you can imagine and all the things you wonder about in the shower or in bed before you fall asleep can be creative writing prompts.

Creative writing is simply that, being creative. Writing prompts serve the purpose of getting your creative juices flowing. Once they are flowing, use the momentum to keep going, and let the creative writing ideas come to you, rather than searching for them.

Remember that poetry can move you along with improving your writing skills.

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