Poetry can sometimes seem like a dusty old artform that has long passed its peak. However, by refreshing the general idea of what poetry even is, some may be surprised to discover that it is actually an astonishingly accessible form of literature.

It has almost become a sort of ritual among cultural journalists, literary critics, and even authors to lament the "death of the book" every few years. Nobody reads anymore, especially young people, and it's all the fault of those pesky social media platforms that have obliterated people's attention spans… allegedly.

If the latter were true, perhaps the campaign to get people invested into books again should focus more on a very specific type of literature: Poetry. No need to commit to a 500+ page novel, you can easily squeeze in a poem or two, no matter how busy your day is.

But what about writing poetry? Is that something you could see yourself doing? If your answer is no, it may be because you have a certain idea of poetry in mind that does not necessarily correspond to what it actually is. In this article, we'll dive into some Do's and Don'ts when it comes to writing poetry, and while doing so, you may find yourself re-evaluating what you thought you knew about this renowned art form.

First of all, DON'T cling to outdated ideas about poetry. Think poems need to rhyme? Nope. Think poems need to follow a strict rhythm and/or structure? They don't. Of course, the reason why many people still think that way is because their last experience with poetry was at school. In a lot of countries, education systems still tend to focus almost solely on poems from the 17th or 18th century, or even older than that. Since around the late 19th century, poetry has evolved greatly and become more expressive, surreal, abstract in its content and significantly looser in its form.

In this context, DO experiment with language. One of the things that sets poetry apart from the other literature forms is that it gives you an enormous amount of freedom when it comes to things like spelling, grammar, and sentence structure. This takes some getting used to as these rules are so engrained into our minds in all other areas of life. But when writing poetry, dare to break out of this linguistic cage. Spell something wrong on purpose, break up words or place punctuation marks in the middle of them. Experiment, and you'll be surprised to discover new, unexpected meaning in what you thought were completely ordinary words.

As for content, DO write about what you know. While it can be a lot of fun to ponder life's great philosophical questions in poetic form, don't feel obligated to go in that direction. If you are lacking inspiration, start by simply taking notes of your day-to-day life. Just jot down any observations you make throughout your day, without worrying about putting them into a poetic form. The first stage all writers go through, whether consciously or unconsciously, is becoming a skilled observer.

Resist the temptation and DON'T fall back on clichés. This one is somewhat related to the 'outdated ideas about poetry'. We've all heard 'Roses are red…' poems and they were fun the first 1,000 times. But if you just regurgitate old forms and tropes without adding any of your own flavour to it, you are depriving yourself of one of the best aspects of art in general: SELF-expression. So, when thinking about ideas, refer back to 'write about what you know' and let the old stuff rest in peace.

DO challenge what is considered 'normal'. Another great source of poetic inspiration is to take a very close look at whatever society considers to be 'normal'. Disruptive poetry that challenges the expectations your reader might have is always very engaging. And this rule does not just apply to social norms or hierarchies: Feel free to challenge the very way people view the reality around them. One of the most famous poems by the surrealist French poet Paul Éluard starts with the line "La terre est bleue comme une orange" ("The world is blue like an orange"). Unusual point of views always make for a great read.

That being said, DON'T think poetry must be 'difficult'. Poetry sadly has a bit of a reputation for being 'elitist' or 'snobbish'. In reality, poetry – just as any other form of art – belongs to every single one of us. And just a brief glimpse beyond the borders of the European continent will reveal that in many cultures around the globe, poetry is very much still a part of everyday culture. As such, don't delude yourself into thinking your poetry is 'bad' because its form or content is 'simple'. There are no rules, no threshold to cross, no special licence to obtain: Poetry already belongs to YOU.

Finally, DO read (contemporary) poetry. One of the best ways to get ideas is to have a look at what other people are doing. While great poetry can be found throughout human history, you should really consider checking out the works of contemporary poets. Not only can you support an author with your purchase but reading contemporary poetry can also help you 'update' your image of what poetry even is. And if that wasn't enough, contemporary authors also have the big advantage of… being alive. This means that if you find a poet whose works you enjoy, there is a good chance that they will continue publishing new works for years to come.