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Word-playing: Playing with words is not only fun, it is challenging and good word exercise. It helps terse your verse. The more forms you know, the more chances you have of finding the right one for your idea.

When you word-play you focus your attention to a pattern. You find the right words in the right order and right form. You know each word is important and must carry its weight. Poetry forms are puzzles. You put the pieces together to create a whole poem.

Your ideas come from whatever catches your interest, from reading, television, movies, special events and celebrations, your observations, journals, photographs, conversations, passions, dislikes, commentary. The list is endless. What do you question, believe, agree or disagree with? What moves you? Whatever interests you demands exploration and discovery. You can play with words to express your response.

Ways to Word-Play:

  1. Find the place you like to play. Whether you compose with pen and paper or at the computer, put yourself in your favorite place. Keep a notebook and pen with you wherever you go.
  2. Gather your materials around you. Writing supplies, dictionary, rhyming dictionary, thesaurus, reference books and articles, journals, anything you want to keep handy.
  3. When attempting to write a certain form, it can be helpful to write the syllable or metric count plus rhyme scheme if needed to the left of the page.. While you are writing, you can just look left and see where you might want to be.
  4. Word-playing with forms helps you focus your thoughts, tightens your poem, helps with rhythm, sound and crisp imagery.
  5. You can always return to the form later for revisions to tweak the poem into the form or decide it needs another form or free verse. Play freely and put your toys away.
  6. Capital letters indicate the line or end word is a refrain and used again in the poem. The lower-case letters rhyme with each other. Not all poem rhyme but most forms indicate syllable counts or metric traditions. I tend to not enjoy metrics and often convert them to syllable counts without stresses.(in more ways than one).
  7. Experiment. Create variations and nonce forms of your own. Nonce forms are the ones you decide how to break lines, syllable or metric counts, rhyme schemes or not. You can invent your own form and name it.
  8. Keep your favorite beverage and snack nearby. I find dark chocolate to be a real mood booster and energizer.
  9. Record your dreams. Images and new directions found in dreams can enhance your poems.
  10. Approach any poem with a sense of playfulness. Play as often as you can. Enjoy.
  11. Look at past poems and see if you can re-form them into a more effective poem.
  12. Transform some of your prose pieces into poems.
  13. Keep a look out for new forms in books and on the Internet. I have written several books on form and continue to hunt for new forms to play with and tinker with the old.
  14. Share your poems with other poets to get feedback, if you want it. Tell them about the excitement that comes from finding a new way to express yourself.
  15. Never stop playing and having fun with poetry. There is always something to toy with and tinker into a poem.