Let’s face it. If you write poetry, your craft depends just as much on practicum as it does on ideas. When you’re lacking one or both these elements, attempting to generate a new poem can feel a little Sisyphean…or like moving through a swimming pool full of cement…or…well, pick any metaphor you like, but you get our point. Remember when we told you to ignore the well-intentioned “your first drafts are crap” advice and to temporarily send your inner critic packing? Both points are always salient when creating new material, but in this post, we’re offering a couple of tips to help you get your poetry brain unstuck.
Do You Need to Shift Gears?
You might rely on a few writing prompt sources. Maybe it’s a high-profile author’s blog, or you and your friends give each other jump-off points for writing. They’re all great resources, but what if you’re staring at your chosen prompt and no words come out? You could have one or more of these common problems going on:
- The pesky editor in your brain
- You’re legit tired, stressed out or feeling a lack of focus
- Your mind is stuck in “logic” mode
Neurodivergent brains all operate in unique ways, but your mental processes to create poetry might drastically differ from your fiction-crafting methods. If you’ve been focusing on short stories or a novel, it may just be a matter of “shifting” into poetic mode. Keep in mind, however, that lines between genres can easily blur. You may reread a 300-word piece you just finished and wonder whether it’s a long micro-fic or a prose poem. That’s a grey area, one in which you’ll make the final call when it comes to genres and classification.
Stop Making Sense
If you don’t write every day or you’re a professional writer generating specialized types of content, you may not be creating poetry on a daily basis. Rather than stare at a blank page and struggle, now may be the time to suspend your “logic brain” and stop making sense. Try freewriting sans prompt, letting whatever is in your mind leak out. You’ve probably heard of “stream of consciousness” writing, and yes, that’s the idea here. Also, this isn’t the time to worry about subject-verb agreement or whether your first draft even makes sense. In fact, if it doesn’t make sense at first, that could open a door to fashioning a new work you might not have otherwise created.
Don’t Forget to Read
You’ve heard the oft-repeated advice that writers need to read. Of course, we at AutPress are happy to help with some suggestions. If you love genre-blending or hopping between genres, Ada Hoffman’s Monsters in My Mind is a great addition to your collection. It’s packed with 49 pieces that include short stories, flash fiction, microfiction, poetry, and prose poems, spanning universes of speculative fiction and plunging deep into the human imagination. We’ve also got more poetry, weird fiction, and more in the AutPress store.