1. Write for yourself first. Get all the material and all the feelings out on the page, and worry about editing later. It’s okay if it only makes sense to you at first. It’s okay if you can’t show this draft to anyone else. Poetry is vulnerable work, and even more so when you’re writing about painful moments in your life—which we often need to. Acknowledge the courage it takes to start a poem, and you will get more from your writing.
2. Find people you trust to edit your work. These should be people you trust on a personal level and an artistic one. You’ll probably end up showing your work to a lot of strangers, but take note of the people who get your work. Find people who can see where you’re trying to go, and people who will push you to find new and better ways to get there.
4. Remember why you wrote the poem. Onstage, I always spend a few moments before each poem trying to get back into the emotional place that spurred the writing in the first place. Have it memorized as well as you can, even if you’re holding the paper, so you can focus on connecting with your words as you speak them.
5. It’s okay to put poems away for a while. This might be because you can’t connect to the emotion anymore in a poem you already wrote, or you’re still writing and don’t have enough emotional distance from the events yet to write about them. Trust yourself to know when a poem is ready to be heard.
I hope this is helpful!