Creative Block

This weekend has brought me my first creative block since I started writing poetry again.

The last few weeks I found myself waking up early because there were lines bouncing around in my head, or pulling over to the side of the road to jot something down on paper. My journals and my notes app are full of single lines that I’ll fit into a poem or right a poem around. Most of the poems I’ve been writing have been mostly automatic and fully emotional, although I’m learning the importance of going back and editing them a few days later. Time brings clarity.

If you’ve read any of my poems you can tell I’m not a big fan of cutesy rhyming or just rhyming for the hell of it. If I am going to rhyme it’s going to be for a reason. But I do want to challenge myself with more rhymes. I’m having fun with form and technique, too. What happens if I rhyme here but not here? What happens inside the reader if I make every stanza 3 lines except for this one? Poetry is fun became of all the subtle choices I get to make that can change the tone of the poem and what it means to someone else.

For the past couple weeks, I’d been finding it easy to write out the entirety of every poem I wrote in 10 minutes or so, as long as I had some starting point, feeling I wanted to encapsulate, or line I knew I wanted to start or end the poem.

Then, nothing. Inspiration dried up. I swear, this weekend, I wrote 20+ poems that are worthless and nothing and make you feel nothing except for maybe discomfort and the same 3 things over and over.

But I kept writing. And as much as I want to, I didn’t rip the last 20 pages out of my notebook. One thing I’ve learned over the years is NEVER throw out your writing. Keep it, even if it’s embarrassing. You might come back later and think “This is brilliant!” You might come back later and find a few key phrases or paragraphs to pull out and use for something better. You might come back later and find that it is still terrible, too. But then you can see how far your writing has come.

My biggest block with poetry is a lack of inspiration. In prose, my biggest block is time and avoidance and just refusing to sit down and actually write. When writing fiction, I don’t need to feel every word. So much of it is plot and dialogue, and the emotion is hidden in chapters on chapters on chapters. I don’t want my prose to be ALL emotion, because life isn’t all emotion. So much of life is finding our way to the things that make us feel.

My poetry is my feelings. It is an emotional experience to write it and, I hope, an emotional experience to read it, as well. Poetry and prose are different ballgames. Poetry has been a form of therapy for me, whereas prose tends to drain me, and even though I love it, it is work. My prose is direct and to the point (because Stephen King taught me) but in my poetry I can say whatever silly, overly romantic, overly adverb-y, overly dramatic thing I want.

I am learning more about myself through these poems. I’m also starting to suspect that I’m using poetry as a way to avoid writing fiction (my truest love). But I’ve decided that is okay. I’m giving myself grace this month to write whatever I please, as long as I’m writing. I’ll get back to a stricter writing schedule in October.

Also, this morning I wrote some poems that didn’t suck. Hopefully I’ll post some of them over the next few days. So here’s hoping the creative block is coming to an end.

Much love,

Carrie Sue

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