How I Keep Writing Part 2, with respect to Poetry

In Part 1 I talked about using a voice recorder – whether an actual pocket recorder or an app on your phone, whatever works for you – as a means to keep my ideas flowing. Recording your ideas out loud help by allowing you to hear your ideas outside of your own head as well as flesh out details and keep your brainstorming moving. It’s also something you can do when you’re unable to write, such as while walking, driving, and even working out, say if you have a treadmill or other cardio machine. By using a voice recorder to help you brainstorm and remember ideas you keep your writing at the forefront of your mind when you might not otherwise be thinking about it. Plus I found that a successful recording session can be very motivational when a new idea pops up and get you excited to get back to your computer, pen and paper, or whatever medium you use.

But we still have to get ourselves writing these ideas down, that like so many other things in life is easier said than done.

[Already started writing this on blog…starts off me recapping a bit of part 1…]



As we all know, everyone has their own way of doing just about everything but at the end of the day there’s always more than one of us doing whatever it is the same way. Some people prefer to work in writing groups, or more formal writing sessions. Some people have to start their project off by creating an outline of their ideas. Whereas other people prefer to be a lot more shall we say messy and just write what comes to them, how it comes, however it comes. That’s typically how I write both fiction and poetry. Fiction on the one hand is a form of writing, like nonfiction, that I can however force my hand at more successfully by telling myself I’m going to sit down and write…something, ugh! On the other hand when it comes to my poetry I have to first have a feeling for it a lot like you do when you get a craving for a certain kind of food. The best of example of this I think is Chinese food. I love it, but I’ve heard a lot of people say what I’ve experienced: you have to really want Chinese food in order for it to hit the spot when you eat it. Otherwise you might wind up still being hungry within an hour and wanting something else! Poetry is similar to that for me, I have to feel its urge, its tugging on my sleeve like a kid who wants to play, or my dog pawing at me to walk. But in both cases actually getting something down on paper, or the screen, isn’t always so straight forward (you might sit there for an hour before you feel you’ve accomplished anything, are happy with what’s in front of you, and/or give up).


So what do I do to give the process a little more help, even if it’s still easier said than done?


In the case of poetry honestly I am very delicate with it. Rarely will I force myself to sit down and come up with something to write and this is because often my poems will come out sounding forced. Since it’s unlikely I’ll delete such poems they tend to sit piled up (in physical or electronic format OR BOTH!) like a mess you would rather avoid. But that’s not to say that they can’t turn into the Ugly Duckling and wind up being something marvelous down the road! More than likely what’ll happen though is that you’ll want, feel the need to be poetic and those messy little words might draw inspiration like the nasty beveled tip of a needle. Meanwhile there are plenty of times that I want to write a poem but nothing is happening naturally, or say I want to make a submission deadline, or achieve my own goal of writing a certain number of poems a week, a month what have you to help build a new collection. Sometimes I’ve felt a need to write a poem but I just can’t find the words. Then in these cases there is work to be done to draw the inspiration out and turn it into a pure expression of this internal or external thing that needs to come out.


Today I’m going to address a couple of things I may do when it comes to writing poetry if I feel into poetry and want to write or if I feel completely out of poetry but need to write. In my next post I’ll write down a couple of things I do to keep writing fiction, which is a newer craft I’ve taken too.


  • Take a walk and pay attention to everything around me. Don’t try to focus on any one thing, thereby forcing your subject. For example you might see a hot air balloon firing up in the distance and think “Hey, that could be poetic” when there’s a couple riding bikes, the man exclaiming, “Hey Hun, I feel good today, want to go around again?”, a metaphor for their relationship. Or what seems more a band of chiming, invisible Gold Finches than a flock metaphorically jump between pine trees along your path reminding you sometimes you don’t need to see to believe.      Allow your senses a real chance to show you where your inspiration lies if the words don’t begin to flow naturally like traffic at a green light.


  • I might sit down, or be walking, and take time to clear my head of simple tasks and simple worries. Instead like a deep breath I’ll take in what’s a big deal to me in my present life. It may be good, it may be bad, again I don’t force it, I think about it, what it might mean, what it does mean, what it means I need to do to continue to achieve or to change it, etc. I try to let a real issue come up and out if it needs to like a burp and then jot my thoughts down crossing them over into a more creative narrative than simple happiness or worry.


  • Here’s an easy      one: I read work I’ve already wrote. Nuf’ said.


  • Or I’ll read      poems by other writers, be it online, in literary magazines, new books      I’ve picked up (electronic or otherwise), old ones I’ve yet read or never finished…This can be really helpful to get you in the mood if you’re just not feeling it, then again you’ll need to be in the mood to read poetry in the first place. But if you are you might discover ways in which you want your writing to grow and improve or even gain more appreciation for your own work, more courage perhaps even.


  • Here’s a couple      of things combined. One I stress and repeat and is most important to me      above all else: let the words come naturally, let them bubble up and talk      to you, but remember nature has to put in work too so that doesn’t mean      you don’t have to try to find the right words, description, metaphor,      analogy, etc, again just don’t force it because you want it to rhyme for      instance. Let it be real while you put in work. And      sometimes this means that you get hit with only a simple phrase or just a handful of lines, by all means, write them down, save them and come back      to them another time. Absolutely don’t reject ideas just because they’re      incomplete; this just means you have more work to do.


  • This brings up part two. Several if not many times I have gone back and found a slew of poem pieces and was able to piece them together into a more complete poem with some new words/sentences/lines/stanzas to glue them together. Life’s made of bits and pieces and so is our work, our relationships, our meals, our pains, our happiness. So a lot of times my view on a subject, thought, or idea, or experience can’t be fully grasped all at the same time. Take what you get, keep it, come back to it when it calls you again.


  • And as a final thought – for now – pay attention, make note, and remember the people, places and/or things that consistently inspire you. For my grandmother, her special place was by her river. For me, experiencing my partner’s creative process has always spurred my own; he’s a great muse! If you don’t know what does this for you then get out there and pay attention to yourself, your life, the people you care about, the life around you; be mindful as they say. And try a few of my above suggestions. When you find your muse – be it person place or thing – appreciate it, remember it, and give back by creating and working your craft.


As always, thanks for stopping by! 😉

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