Inspiration can be fleeting and fickle. Sometimes it’s there, looming over your shoulder like thick rainclouds, begging you to comply. And as soon as it came, it’s gone again, leaving you in a creative drought. In Kim Addonizio and Dorriane Laux’s book, “The Poet’s Companion,” (which I recommend to every poet EVER…seriously, you should consider purchasing it) there is a chapter on writer’s block. Addonizio describes writer’s block as not writer’s block, but instead “times when you are empty and times when you are full.” Sometimes it is necessary to inspire yourself, to fill yourself and surround yourself with things that compel you to write.
1. Read, read, read:
I cannot stress enough how important it is to read when you are a writer! This rule applies to writers in general, but especially if you are a poet – read poetry. Read lots of poetry. Don’t just read poetry that you’re comfortable with, either. If you’re someone who typically enjoys classic poetry or poetry in strict forms, select some contemporary poetry instead. Read poetry that doesn’t follow a form, that doesn’t rhyme, that pushes the boundaries of tradition. Read poetry that makes you uncomfortable, that’s inaccessible, that may not make sense to you at first or at all. I grew so much as a poet once I began pushing my own reading boundaries. Read beautiful prose, too. And read things about poetry.
2. Do creative things:
If you’re a creative thinker, chances are you have more than one creative outlet. Poetry is my creative outlet of choice, but sometimes I’m just not feeling it. Do other things that foster creativity. In my spare time, I play Capoeira, I dance, and I love to try new recipes out for me and my husband. I like to bind books, and every once in awhile I’ll paint or draw, too. Being inventive in other areas of your life helps relieve that creative itch, and can inspire you to write via external creative experiences.
3. Give yourself some quiet time:
If there’s anything I’m most guilty of, it’s not giving myself enough quiet time. I’ve often found myself deeply inspired by something, but because I keep myself so busy with working full-time and with the activities I mentioned above, by the time I get around to writing the poem I wanted to write – it’s not quite there anymore. Especially if you’re an extrovert like me, it’s tough to make yourself stop and rest! I’ve got places to go, people to see! But alone time is important. Especially if you’re a writer. Don’t be afraid to go into your den and let the poetry come to you. Allow yourself to reflect, to meditate or pray if that helps you. Give yourself time away from other people. You may be surprised at what flows out of you if you just stop and listen.
4. Give yourself new experiences:
Doing and trying new things is a great way to stimulate your creative muscle. Try food that you’ve never had before, try a new activity, go hiking somewhere you’ve never been before, heck – go on a vacation to somewhere new if you can afford it. You could even try things on a smaller scale by creating a Pandora station of music you wouldn’t typically listen to, or watching a new television show or movie. Change your daily routine: drive a different route to work, be daring and wash your face before you brush your teeth. New experiences are excellent ways to cultivate inspiration.
I bet you thought you’d escaped this one. I bet you’re thinking, “Nichole, you don’t know what you’re talking about. How can writing help my lack of inspiration to write?” If you’re still feeling uninspired, search for poetry prompts. Write about your day. Start a blog and write about your interests. Write a poem that imitates one of the new authors that you read. Write a review for a new kind of food or wine or beer that you’ve tried. Freewrite: just begin writing and see where your mind takes you. Sometimes forcing yourself to write can be the best method to fix writers block. Don’t worry about how your poem or piece of writing is going to turn out. The process is more important than the product in this circumstance.
What methods do you use to inspire yourself? Do you think any of these means of inspiration is more helpful than the others? Share your ideas in the comments.