Beating Poet’s Block (or Writing When you Can’t)

We’ve all been there. Whether it’s needing to write because you have an assignment due, or you’re just trying to get the last couple of poems for your new pamphlet. All poets experience poet’s block to varying degrees. There is nothing wrong with this, it is a natural part of the creative process. We can’t be ‘on’ 100% of the time, and sometimes writer’s block is your brain telling you that you need a break. However, if you can’t afford a break, or you really feel like writing but just can’t get into it, read on. You can try one or all of these tips or mix and match depending on what works for you.

Tip 1- Read Poetry

You may think that picking up a book of poetry will only serve to make you feel bad about your inability to write. However, when I read great poetry it actually seems to program my brain into a poetic rhythm, and get me into a poetry writing vibe. Because we don’t naturally think or speak in poetry, it is so easy to get out of that rhythmic groove, so reintroducing yourself to it without the pressure to write can really help. Of course, reading poetry can also give you new ideas for ways to creatively turn mundane ideas into poems.

Tip 2 – Read Non-fiction

I often find that reading about real things that are happening in the world, from local news to a new discovery in space, all serve to spark ideas that you would never have had just staring at a blank page. Poetry has to come from something, so by reading any non-fiction, you are giving yourself a head start. I have written poems about climate change, nuclear explosions and the sun’s inevitable consumption of Earth.

Another thing I personally love reading to inspire my poetry is mythology (fast and loose with the term non-fiction, I know) and the ability to switch off the ‘I NEED TO WRITE!’ voice and getting absorbed in something else, anything else, that you find interesting is a great way to rekindle some of that writerly passion.

Tip 3- Forego Perfection

WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN. No matter what it is, write it down, even if it’s just the general mood that you are going for, a motif that you want to include. Don’t believe that what you write has to be a polished poem. By getting everything down on the page, your mind is free to come up with other ideas that may help to shape the poem into something more meaningful. Don’t worry about writing a poem- just write.

Tip 4 – Meditate

Meditation is one of my favourite things to do when I am facing writer’s block. Often the block doesn’t come from a lack of ideas, but too many fleeting and competing ideas with no way to synthesise them. Meditation is a simple way of creating a still mind, to nip that panic in the bud and begin again with a clean slate. Find a guided meditation online- perhaps one dedicated to creativity, it’s up to you, and keep a notebook and pen beside you just in case something interesting comes up.

I hope that these quick tips help you, happy writing!

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