Poet’s Block (and how to fix it)

Poetry has been my safe haven since middle school, but I’ve only recently returned to it. 

As I mentioned in my previous blog post (if you have not yet read it, you can find it here), the art form had been a huge source of relief during my mental health struggles between the winter and spring of 2020, though my loyalty to the creative venture has spanned far beyond that stretch of time.

Initially, I was drawn to it while in the 7th grade, though it was unfortunately not cultivated due to a teacher’s strict view on what is and what is not poetry. To him, if my writing did not have a strict rhyme or syllable based scheme, it could not be included under this definition. Reluctantly, I gave up, discarding the poetry based novel I had been working on. 

Fortunately, in 8th grade, a wonderful, new mentor created a Slam Poetry club. My younger self had never heard of slam poetry, only ever being exposed to older, more literary prose. When I learned such a form existed, one which produced an almost theatrical performance limitless in stylistic choices and topics, I became enamored. My mentor gave members of our club countless opportunities to perform in front of each other, the rest of the student body, and even at a statewide competition. 

It was a peak creation period for my poetry, giving me constant access to people who were as invested in the craft as I was. While no time beyond that has compared, over the years I have continued to improve my poetic skills while lacking a sure-fire way to share my creations. It makes sense that, with ideas of a poetry book being put on hold in favor of my novel and my stand-alone poems having few ways to be distributed, my eagerness towards the work would start to fade. 

Now, I‘ve set up a way to rekindle that passion. There were three main culprits for my lack of motivation: having no reason to express my poetry, no time to do so, and no way to get reinspired.

First, as I mentioned before, I do not have an outlet to express my poems through, and thus lack a “need” to write them. There are several ways such a dilemma could be solved. The obvious one is to write poems just for myself, and while I believe this may help some of you who are facing a similar struggle I do not think that this is the right answer for me. Poetry, to me, is something that must be shared; the personal purpose I have found within the medium is to turn what I would otherwise bottle up into something tangible and maybe even pleasurable for others to understand. 

Another possible though unlikely solution is to begin posting my poems to YouTube through spoken word enactments. While this would give me the ideal setting for my creative work, it would also eat up a lot of time that I do not have, exasperating my difficulty with already having too little room in my schedule to fit poetry among everything else. 

Instead, I think the best “fix” for my lack of reason “reason” is to post poems on Twitter and my blog. I already use both platforms, allowing me to piggyback on what content is there to reignite my spark.

 I would recommend integrating your poetic practice into something that is pre-existing over trying to establish it as a completely foreign entity or to at least do this before creating a completely new path for it. If you already use another form of social media, like Instagram, or even do another hobby, like drawing or playing an instrument, I would highly recommend trying to incorporate your poetry into these familiar activities.

The answer I have previously established actually marks off the first two problems, though for the latter I would like to quickly elaborate on a secondary idea. I realized while deciding when I would fit poetry into my routine that I was using too much time on my illustrations which, despite their enjoyability, have never been a main focus of mine. You may have to sacrifice other hobbies or activities you are doing to fit poetry or anything else into your life, or at least have to significantly lessen them. Prioritizing is an imperative life skill, even if it’s not always pleasant. 

Onto the final dilemma: having no way to get reinspired. A major obstacle I had to confront in the wake of this was my rampant perfectionism, one caused by my lack of reference for what I wanted my poetry to be besides this intangible ideal I could only be confident in achieving through “feeling it out and hoping for the best”. Instead of taking that self-sabotaging path, I decided to read more of the type of poems I wanted to make. A poetry collection I loved was Halsey’s “I Would Leave Me if I Could”. 

Of course, there are plenty of ways to get inspired beyond focusing on what your specific medium has to offer; anything can be turned into a poem. Even if it’s embarrassing or silly, you should invest your time in creating what matters the most to you! Poetry is your oyster, and if you haven’t been treating it as such, it’s about time you do so. 

If you have found a specific way to get re-inspired, please tell me in the comments, along with anything else you have to say about my personal journey and advice! 

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