Forced Writing- How to deal with writer’s block if you’re experiencing 2020 burnout or having a difficult time finding the motivation to write this year. This is advice that any writer can benefit from at some point or another.
Time to have an honest talk. What’s the most common response a lot of us give when somebody asks us what’s kept us from writing lately? “Writer’s block.” What causes writer’s block? A wide range of things. Feeling down and creatively suppressed. Not having enough time in a week to give it the attention it deserves. Growing bored of what we’ve been writing recently but not knowing what to move onto.
It’s been almost two years since I graduated college and I can admit that especially when it comes to poetry I’ve had a very bad case of the infamous “writer’s block.” However, in the past few days, just sitting down at my desk in my bedroom and time blocking one hour out of my night to pursue a passion I’ve been obsessed with since the sixth grade has unleashed a mass of different writing prompts that I hope to start on soon.
I’m publishing this here so that if you’re going through the same thing, maybe you’ll either feel inspired by one of my ideas or pursue a few of your own. Here’s a list of my top five poetry prompts for the writers with a bad case of the “writer’s block.”
- Maybe it’s not so much a prompt but think of a book that you’ve read that took place in a scene that left a vivid image in your mind. For me I think of a small cabin in Maine from a book I’ve read a long time ago that’s never left my head. When I close my eyes and remember this image, I think of how it appeals to the five senses. Before I know it, I’ve at least began to write a poem that’s been lingering in the back of my mind for months now without me even realizing it.
- Think of a poem you read once where you wished something had been different. Either you wish the ending would have been different, the structure, the spacing, the punctuation. Explore a similar theme but write it the way you would want it to be written. Be mindful of not copying someone’s hard work but feel free to pick up the same theme someone has used and create it in your voice.
- Look up a list of different types of poems. Did you know there are at least 50 different types? For example, a Haiku poem has a three-line stanza with a 5/7/5 syllable count. This style of poem usually focuses on the theme of nature. Find a poetry type that intrigues you and make it a challenge. See if you can find a structure of poem that you’ve never written before and challenge yourself to complete it. After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
- Something kind of silly I’ve done in the past is ask a friend to list five objects. For example: a pen, a sweater, a clock, a microphone, and gold sequin purse. You have to make a poem that contains all five of these objects. When you’re finished and if you’re comfortable, show your friend what you’ve written. Maybe they’ll offer some helpful feedback or another list of items that will leave you with more ideas!
- None of us like to hear this last one, and once again maybe this isn’t so much a prompt as it is a technique. Sometimes when you’ve searched and searched for inspiration but time continues to pass and you still find yourself with a bad case of writer’s block, what can you do as a final hail Mary? Forced writing. It sounds intense. I promise it’s less intimidating then it sounds. How do you do this? Make a commitment to yourself. Maybe every day for the next week from 7am until 7:15am you will sit at your desk with no other distractions and write whatever comes into your head. Maybe its song lyrics, maybe it’s complete nonsense, maybe it’s you talking about how absolutely infuriating it is to be sitting at a desk at 7 in the morning writing about writer’s block but eventually something will probably happen. Maybe it’ll happen on the first day, maybe it’ll happen on the 7th, but eventually you might feel new ideas begin to surface. I know it’s frustrating but I promise it’s worth a try.
Just remember, practice makes perfect! We’re never going to get any better if we throw in the towel completely.