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Going on about roses being red and violets being blue is not going to cut it if you are trying to write a poem for a girl. The most effective way to write a heartfelt and real poem for a girl is to be heartfelt and real. Forget the cheesy images and even cheesier rhyme and write a freeform poem that follows its own rules of rhythm, meter and line breaks—and be sure to include a true sliver of your soul.

Pick a Starting Point: Choose a moment, emotion, character trait or anything else about the girl of your affection that comes to mind. It could be the rundown bowling alley where you first met, the non-rundown bowling alley where you had your first date or one of her distinctive character traits, like her sexy, pouty lips or big, fat nose. On second thought, scrap the big nose. You want to write a poem for a girl that makes her feel good. You could even focus on a special moment you shared, like when your hands first touched reaching for the rented bowling shoes.

Brainstorm: Start writing down everything that comes to mind related to the moment, image, emotion or trait you chose. This is not the final version of the poem, just a brainstorming exercise. Let the pen simply glide on down the page in any direction your thoughts take you. One of your bowling alley lists might include her excitement at her first strike–or your excitement at watching her shirt fly up when she jumped up and down. You have the glow-in-the-dark carpet, the greasy pizza, the scarred-up, ugly green ball she used. The way you threw a gutter ball on accident to let her win. Keep going until you have a lengthy stream-of-consciousness page of notes. Anything goes.

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Revise: Go through you’re your brainstorming page and highlight phrases, ideas, and words that work together. The image of the greasy pizza, for instance, can be juxtaposed next to the moment your hands touched, pointing out how her hands were soft, tender and certainly not greasy. Kick out anything that might make her mad, like the part about letting her win on purpose. Spruce up the clunky language. “Scarred-up, ugly green ball,” for instance, sounds better as “pocked-up, imperfect bowling ball,” then add, “but then everything looks perfect when it’s near you.” You’re allowed te be a tad sappy in a poem you write for a girl, as long as it’s not so sappy it’s making a puddle of cheese on the floor.

Be Real: Honesty is the key to great poetry, especially when you write a poem for a girl you love, or even like. Reread the poem you wrote for the girl once more, scratching out anything that is not truly coming from your heart. Maybe the line about everything being perfect sounds too wimpy for you. Don’t fret, just change the focus to how you really feel. “Even glow-in-the-dark orange carpet did not wreck how cool it is to be with you.” Don’t lie. Women know when you’re lying, especially when it’s in front of them in writing in the form of a personalized poem. Don’t steal lines from Shakespeare, either. Yes, she will notice.

Pick a title: That sums it all up, with the option of including her name in a subtitle. “Who Knew Day-Glo Carpet Could be So Romantic: Bowling with Mary.” “Lucky Strike: My First Date with Mary.” “Bowled Over: An Ode to Mary in her Two-Tone Rented Shoes.”