How does a poet maintain the mind frame of…well, a poet? When you are also a parent, an employee, a homeowner, a student, or all of the above, it may seem impossible to stay observant of the things around you and plugged into your own emotional responses.
Remember: Poetry is about taking the mundane and elevating it. It’s about drawing new and surprising conclusions about life that will make readers see things in an unfamiliar light. Therefore, it’s important to maintain a poetic sensibility even while you’re carting your kids to soccer practice or mowing the lawn.
Here are some ways to keep you in a poetic state of mind all day, every day:
· Keep a journal. Sometimes emotions are too big to whittle down into a poem right away. Write them down in your journal and revisit them later—this will keep you from losing that visceral rush that eventually becomes a poem. Even if you don’t think you have anything significant to write, write anyway!
· Eyes and ears open. Look actively, not passively, for inspiration. There is poetry in everyday life; you just have to turn over some rocks to find it sometimes.
· A trail of paper scraps. Make sure there is paper available to you at all times. When inspiration abruptly strikes, you don’t want to be left scrambling. Stash little notebooks around your house and jot down even the briefest of thoughts. That way, even if you can’t sit down and write a poem at that very moment, you can always follow the paper trail back to that creative mind-set later.
· Tempt yourself with poetry. A huge part of staying in tune with your poetic side is devouring poetry every chance you get. Leave books of poems in places where you rest or might have a few minutes of idle time (such as next to your bed or tucked in with your lunch). Litter your daily routine with a poem here, a poem there. It will be much easier to maintain that creative state of mind if your favorite poets are accompanying you throughout the day.
· Poetry as decoration. Print out a few of your favorite poems, frame them, and hang them around your home. Every time you see them, you’ll be reminded that writing isn’t a joyless task, but the act of creating something beautiful.
· Listen to your inner voice, always. If you get into the habit of regularly gagging your muses, getting them to talk to you when the time comes to write will be impossible. Let that inner voice babble. Be cheesy and mentally narrate your most mundane tasks. Even if the writing in your head never makes it onto a physical page, you are still exercising those artistic muscles.
When you are in a constant poetic state of mind, you are more open to inspiration and alternate interpretation, which means you are more likely to write better poems. Poets never stop being poets, even when they have to. And if you want help getting your poems published in the top literary magazines and journals, Writer’s Relief has a service for every poet!
I’ve always thought the hardest part of writing poetry is recognizing it right before you trip over it.
Poetry is a smile that never ends, a warm fuzzy that sneaks in when you least expect it, a visit with a friend that can happen over and over again, a word that makes all the difference, a trip to our dark and sunny sides.
Mine your dreams for rough gemstones!
Read, read read! Writers must read!!!
Artists paint, singers sing, and writers must write. We do not have a choice; it is what we do. So study your art and produce! Read, dream, and write!
I love your comment, Rosalind and will take it to heart!
I love this post. I’m working on a project right now–a nonfiction book about how memorizing poetry is affecting my prose, my novel-in-progress. I’m discovering things about myself in the process, as I open myself to the poetry.
Susan: You may be interested in this article as well. Fostering Originality in Poetry:
Loved the comment about “mentally narrate your most mundane tasks” — unfortunately I find my myself narrating out loud …
Margaret, Yes, that’s familiar for many of us…especially writers! Thanks for your comment!
I thought that I was the only one who kept scraps of paper and small notebooks–everywhere!
LOL, Patricia! You are in good company here!
Thank you SO much for the tips!
I’ve always been conquered by massive amounts of emotions that i couldn’t express in any other way than writing.
In a poem or not, emotions HAVE to be released. Keep doing it creatively 🙂
I cant believe I just now am finding all this out. So that’s why I’m like this! Thank you all for helping ease some of this insanity.
Thank you for this list! It’s a breath of fresh air to know I already do several of these but they are serve as reminders that I am on the right track. Thank you sharing this. It truly helps on my cloudy mind days!