Wednesday, March 28, 2012

This Business of Poetry, Part 8: What To Do In The Desert While You Await Inspiration

SO, here you are and the river is dry, now. You had tons of great material flow out onto the pages, and now there is nothing. Arrrgh! This is frustrating and unavoidable.

What does one do, in this situation? (You realize, of course, that this is the single most-asked question with regard to creative endeavor…) Well, I have a short, one-word answer that I can expand upon:


Ha, ha, cute joke, say you, what should we really do?

(sigh) So, I guess the expansion is required, and I had better supply one.

Even when you feel like nothing decent is extant in your brain, you should try to write something every day. Don’t kill yourself if you don’t like what you see. You might even pull out those poems that you haven’t been able to finish, for one reason or another, and rework those. If reworking gets irritating, stop and move on to other things, such as:

attending concerts
having coffee or tea with friends
discuss current events with someone

One should fully engage in all the commonplace activities of life. This, after all, is the seed bed for all of life’s inspiring moments. Engaging in activities fully and wholeheartedly is about as inspired as it gets, as any zen practitioner would say.

I alluded to the word practice just now, and also in the last entry in this series. All of your writing is a practice, of sorts. Your creative energy and outpouring is all done in a specific medium, with a specific sort of way that you go about doing the activity, but this is an exercise of the mind, just as physical activity exercises the body, chants, prayers, songs or other devotions exercise the spirit. Each and everything that you do and experience, feel, see or hear is part of your existential databank. I cannot think of any better practice than expanding your horizons with ever more experiences.  Listening is a good part of such practice.

It is always good to take a break, to treat yourself to a change of scene. Any activity that feeds your senses is bound to open you to new channels of thought.