My writing battery seems to be running low lately. It’s frustrating to want to write but my brain won’t cooperate. I envy people who say they write all the time. I mean, I could write all the time but it would be boring ordinary shit and, for me, that’s a waste of time. I know it’s helpful for some but me? Nah. In fact, writing boring ordinary shit is as frustrating as wanting to write but being unable to think of anything. So, what do I do?
Read. Read other poets, read fiction, read the newspaper. Sometimes reading will jog a memory or help me look at things in a new way. Sometimes a turn of phrase in someone’s poem will inspire my imagination.
Think. Think about what makes me happy, what makes me sad, what pisses me off.
Sleep. Often phrases come to me in my sleep and I’ll actually awaken enough to scribble it down, or not. Sometimes I lose it. Day before yesterday I dreamed “dollop of endorphins” and, although I couldn’t wake up enough to write it down, I repeated it to myself in my sleep until I did wake up. Then I wrote it down. The brain is so mysterious, so complicated. How did i make myself repeat that in my sleep? I was asleep! So cool. I hope I can do it again.
Read and edit old poems. Recently, I went through my files in Google Drive reading some of my old poems. I pulled out a few and edited them with fresh eyes. I submitted three and all three were accepted. Yesterday I looked through my journal from 2014 and found a poem I had completely forgotten. I added a little to it, but not much, and plan to submit it.
Play around with black-out & found poetry. Just grab a newspaper or magazine and begin circling words that you’re drawn to, then rearrange them – or not – into a poem. This is an exercise that often gets me kick started.
Another exercise I like to do is use a poem that you like by another poet. Starting with the last line, write a response to it. Work your way up to the first line, writing responses to each. I don’t remember where I read about this technique but I really like it. In fact, I plan to do it this week-end.
Of course, you can always pull out your favorite books on writing. For me, that’s Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within by Kim Addonizio, and PoemCrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words by Susan G. Wooldridge. All of these books have great advice and lots of prompts. All of these books are by women poets who write stunning poetry. What’s not to love?
So these are just a few techniques I employ when my writing battery is all but dead. The trick is, making time to do them.
Have a great weekend, y’all.