It's Poetry Month and I'm Blocked!

Six Ways to Fight Writer's Block

It is one of my favorite times of the year, and I've got nothing! I should not say I have nothing. I have a lot of poetry events coming up. Today, I'm headed up to Bellingham, Washington to read with Raul Sanchez at Village Books. On Monday, I will be reading with Bill Fay and Layla Ormbrek for Creative Colloquy. Next week, I will be driving down to Tukwila to talk to high schoolers about what it means to be a poet. Thursday is Canyon Poets, and we will be featuring Benjamin Schmitt. On the 24th, I will be featuring with Toti O'Brien and Cynthia Anderson at Cholla Needles Arts and Literary Library in the Joshua Tree Retreat Center, and on the 29th, Orcas is hosting my book at Lamplighters.


So, when I say I've got nothing, I mean I have no poems to write yet. This happens from time to time. My world is too busy for me to contemplate poetic words. As an introvert, the world can be overwhelming. I have been interacting with a lot of people lately, and that is hard for me. Between my family, my job and the poetry events, it is hard to find a space to myself to just breathe and think.


I am reading a book about strengths based leadership. It led me to Gallup.com where I took a test to learn my strengths. It turns out that my top strength is intellection. It said that I probably need to take time to myself to think about concepts and ideas. It is hard to take time to yourself to think when you are sharing your home with your family during a pandemic, especially a family where everyone, except me, likes to think out loud.


I also have a tendency to hold my poems in my head until I'm ready to write them on paper. This is something that's hard to do if your daughter is asking for help with an outfit, your son is asking for the car, and your husband is asking why the lid was left of the peanut butter jar. I truly understand Virginia Woolf's need for a room of her own.


People often ask me what I do when I have writer's block. Mostly, I am patient with myself, and I know the poems will come eventually. Here are a few other things I do when I'm blocked.

1. Read lots of poetry - reading poetry helps get me in the right frame of mind for writing poetry.

2. Attend poetry readings - I cannot say how many times I have been in a poetry reading where someone will read or say something that inspires a poem. Make sure to thank the person who inspires your work.

3. Create art - I like to paint watercolors when I feel blocked. It helps me to see my thoughts in color.

4. Walk - The fresh air and atmosphere can be inspirational

5. Exercise - It is just a matter of getting out of your own head. Exercise helps me do that.

6. Just write - It does not have to be poetry, but the act of writing itself can shake the right words out of the tree.

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