poeming as a way around writer's block

And that's when it struck,
the lightning that hit the tree
right in the middle of the green field
in the totally clear day before the rain
came pouring down to drench out the fire.
The improbability of statistics no match against
the smell of oxygen right before ignition.
I hope you took cover and ran,
trusting your senses instead
of what you thought
was the truth.


I wasn't sure what I wanted to write about this morning. I don't call that writer's block, but you might. Maybe you're still stuck this afternoon and don't know what to write today. Maybe telling you my process of writing this poem will help you find your own process.

Maybe not.

Only you can write what you need to write. I'm just pointing out the way that works for me.

Every day, I write: Monday-Friday. (I take weekends off because I want to.)  This power of habit is strong, but it doesn't mean that the words flow every day, immediate and sure.

(Some days they really do.)

Not this morning, though. So, I did what I do when the words aren't there immediately:

* I checked facebook. I got bored with facebook. (Getting bored sometimes gives me words. Not today.)
* I looked through my photos, I picked a photo. I watermarked it. I added it to this blank page. (Sometimes the photo gives me an immediate idea about what I want to say. Not today.)
* I went back to facebook and annoyed myself a little more. (Annoying myself gives me words, most of the time.)
* I came back to this page. I made a decision to poem it out. (I realized I may not have poemed yesterday.) And then the words started flowing.

I started with an image-idea. Imagining this tree getting hit by lightning. It's not technically in the middle of a field. WHATEVER. The poem wants what it wants.

And I just kept writing. Going for sensory details first, fleshing out the lines. That "improbability of statistics" line intrigued me. I could already see the shape starting to form (an arrow). It took me a couple of seconds (I took a short dance break - like twenty seconds) to decide how to go on, making it clearer what it the poem was asking.

And after I was done writing (and I maybe went back and cleaned up a few words before I was finished), there was a poem where before there was blank space.

And that juxtaposition inspired me to write more. To write about how I wrote this poem. One thing flowing from the other, just as the words flowed from the initial decision to write (and the couple of jedi-mind-tricks it took to get to the start of the poem itself).

The reality is: if you don't start to write, you won't write. 

Sometimes blank space is too intimidating. Adding a photo takes away some of that intimidation for me. (Plus, photography is my other creative practice.) But if finding the photo is intimidating for you, then skip the photo!

Sometimes you might be in a mood. Feeling blah. Uninspired. Annoying or boring yourself might help shake the blahs out. Finding a quote to write about. Dancing might do it. Singing along with your favorite song. Reading an amazing book/ poem. Lighting a candle. Meditating. Pulling a tarot card. Playing a short round of dungeons and dragons.

(What? I don't know what works for you! You'll find your tricks, the further you go down the writing rabbit hole. )

All writers have their blah-shaking tricks. Most writers have shared their tricks somewhere along the way, because interviewers and audiences always ask (always). Plus, most of us find writing and talking about writing fun. Lots of authors write books sharing their tips for shaking the blahs. Some authors are more known for their books on writing about writing than they are for their poetry or novels. That's cool, too.

I read a ton of writing books when I was younger. I don't read as many now. I just write.

I just write.

Don't make the blah-shaking your practice. Don't lean on anything other than the words.

If you want to write, write. Make writing your practice.

Use whatever you need to use to get started writing, but after the words start flowing, follow them.

The longer you write, every day (or whatever version of every day you decide on), the easier that gets. So keep going, keep adding to your practice. Keep writing.

Or don't, if you don't want to write.

(Your decision, entirely.)