This winter, I attended a writers workshop and one of the breakout sessions was titled: “How to Overcome Writers’ Block.” The facilitator remarked that some mornings she had to “trick herself” into getting started. I’m fortunate enough never to have had that problem.
The Irish poet Yates felt that all his poems were channeled and he was only a facilitator. I often feel that way, and sometimes when I read a poem I’ve previous written I can’t remember the inspiration or even the actual writing of the piece.
American poet Jane Hirshfield remarked that she often has no idea where her ideas or words came from. I think if your work is divinely inspired it would be impossible to ever have writers’ block. Still, I will offer some practical advice:
1. I always carry a notebook and write down words, phrases, or ideas as they come to me.
2. I will often return to a piece I don’t feel is complete, or could use more attention.
3. I write haiku, or mini-poems (one sentence poems).
4. I read great poets, or become engaged in the art of others.
5. I go for a run or walk. As a kinesthetic learner, movement often triggers thoughts. I actually did write my chapbook “26point2 poems on the run.
Both Truman Capote and Mark Twain wrote best lying down.
6. I practice patience and seek solitude – a quiet mind is a blank canvas.
My first authentic exposure to Haiku was last summer at the Omega Institute.
I knew Kerouac wrote haiku (via Ginsberg and Snyder), and I was immediately attracted to the idea of expressing myself as fully as possible in three short lines (traditionally 17 syllables). The idea seemed so Zen, and a major shift from my prose style writing which in comparison resembled the “Odyssey.” The exercise of writing haiku is so centering and relaxing that I’ve made it a key element of my writing routine. “Every Wednesday I Write Haiku” is also the title of my recently published haibun appearing on-line in “Haibun Today.” Writing haiku is an ever present reminder to reduce, reduce, reduce! Write less, say more!
the rusty bell
like an old friend
I enjoy keeping the company of creative people. I find creative energy to be inciting
(like a riot) and often the inspiration for a poem. Maria Santana is a sculptor, and the creator of the amazing clay “Shaman Whistle Women.” The idea originated from the creation myths of her native country, Venezuela. Her woman are uniquely designed and decorated with functional whistles making each piece both sculpture and instrument.
excerpt from “Shaman Whistle Woman.”
The faces of
women agaze through peeled
stick and reed,
shaped in the kiln of the
forest with whistles
angled from heads and
breasts covered with
hawk feathers and
pasture skirts the color
of South American
butterflies, lush Amazon
straggly root-grass hair
sea glass bangles
that drip from
See her art at: