Writing Poetry Vs. Novels… Isn’t all writing the same?

Last week, I heard about a contest where the organizers were looking for poem submissions. I debated whether to try my hand at it or not. After all, writing is writing, right?

Not in my books! I’m a novelist, I tell stories. I’m certainly not a poet. I know, poems tell stories too, but they’re written differently. While I realize the following are not always a must, things like imagery, rhymes, the amount of syllables in each line/stanza, they often play a role in poems. There’s a rhythm, or pattern. A novel isn’t written this way.

As a teenager I wrote poems – just for fun, I should add – but never paid attention to these factors except I always made sure lines 1 and 3 rhymed, as well as lines 2 and 4.

When I heard about this contest, I found myself wondering whether to enter because I really don’t know how to correctly write poems. The prizes are quite generous, making it more tempting, but adding another writing credit to my portfolio is just as – if not more – important.

So I turned to two fellow writers/friends for help and asked for their opinion. Greg told me to go for it.  “After all,” he said, “you wrote two books.”

I couldn’t help but chuckle. This guy had more faith in me than I had in myself. I replied: “Because I write novels doesn’t mean I CAN write poems. It’s like thinking I can play guitar because I know how to play the piano. They’re two totally different instruments. The same goes for poems and novels.”

Knowing Sarah – another fellow writer – might be interested in this contest, I forwarded the information to her, telling her I wasn’t sure what to do. Using a play on word, she said: “Write about not being able to think about what to write about.” Then she added: “Seriously, poetry is not a challenge if you try it, and beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. Take that quote you shared as a jumping off point.”

Huh? What quote? Oh yeah… I’d shared on my Facebook wall something I’d read on Twitter. I don’t know who the author of this quote is but it went like this:

A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking,

because its faith is not in the branch,

but in her wings.

Believe in yourself ~ Author Unknown

Touché, Sarah. Thank you. I needed this push!

Alright! I’ve decided to do exactly that: believe in myself. I’m going to take a stab at this contest, and see what I can come up with. Greg later suggested I write something I’m passionate about. I have an idea and I’m going to try. What’s the worst that can happen? I won’t win? But I can’t win if I don’t try.

Talk to me! What do you write? Poetry? Novels? Short stories? All of the above? Is it all the same to you? Share your thoughts.



6 thoughts on “Writing Poetry Vs. Novels… Isn’t all writing the same?

  1. I write non-fiction, almost exclusively. But last fall, I entered a flash fiction contest in the mystery/horror genre, which was totally out of my comfort zone. I won first prize (no money) in that genre. I was delightfully surprised. So go for it in the poetry contest.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Gloria. And congrats for taking first prize in the flash fiction contest. Way to go!!! I guess it paid off to step out of our comfort zone. I now need to convince myself of that!


  2. There is nothing wrong with trying to seek out your boundaries. You may even find that you have a flare for writing truly inspiring things. If I never ventured out to try new things because I didn’t think I would be very good at them, it is doubtful I would ever get out of the bed in the morning…. But there is an adventure for each of us to have every morning. If we dare to accept it

    • Thanks Greg, I appreciate your help and suggestions. I will definitely try to write it out and see what happens. And you’re right, I’ll never know if I’m good at it if I don’t try. How does the old adage go??? You won’t succeed if you don’t try! And yes, it will be a real adventure trying to write this poem. 🙂

      Thanks! And blessings!

  3. I say go for it! I write fiction. I have a children’s book, though that is written in rhyme. I prefer non-rhyming poetry and think it closer to what we do as storytellers. But what can it hurt to try…?

    • Thanks Rebecca. You’re right, what can it hurt to try? Funny, in the past, I used to think poems had to rhyme. But I’ve read poems that don’t and they sound alright.

      My fellow writer, Greg – (check out his blog, he writes awesome poetry) – suggested I write the story first, without worrying about the poem. Once I have it down, then, I can break it down into a poem ‘format’. Great idea. Guess what I’m doing tomorrow!!!


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