Friday, June 10, 2011

Finding Your Inspiration – Write a Poem

Got you, didn’t I? I’ll bet you expected me to trumpet reading poetry as a source of creative inspiration. I can (and do) but today I’m not going to; instead, I’m going to suggest that you write a poem. Even better, right?

Before you think you’ve traveled back in time and landed in Ms. Miller’s Grade 9 English class, stop and think about this for a minute.

If you write creatively, you may be writing exclusively short stories and novels. In fact, you may not have even attempted to write a piece of poetry since Ms. Miller’s class (okay, so Ms. Miller was one of my English teachers, but you can feel free to substitute the name of one of yours). That doesn’t mean you don’t make use of poetic turns of phrases but writing a poem is an act in and of itself. It’s a discrete activity, only distantly related to writing prose.

Try it. Pick up a pen and pull out a piece of paper. I would recommend these exact objects, not just for the tactile stimulation but because you may spend most of your days in front of the computer screen and need a distinct process to mark this distinct action. You aren’t just putting the final touches onto your next chapter. You are WRITING A POEM.

So what do you write about?

Anything. I mean it, really. Ms. Miller would have assigned you a piece about nature or love. Those are fine topics. But you can write a poem about zombies if you want, or sitting in a cubicle, or the creative process itself.

None of Ms. Miller’s rules apply this time. And no one is going to assign you a mark at the end. To rhyme or not to rhyme, that’s up to you.

Write a couplet about your cat. It will get you thinking about a creature you see every day in a new way. It will get you to think about language, and the image you are creating on the page.

Writing a poem will get your creative juices flowing and put your muse through a new set of exercises. And isn’t that the whole point?

Photo courtesy of Pixomar at


  1. Excellent post. I have to write a Silly Morning Haiku every day before I start writing or editing - it really does get those juices flowing!

  2. Alison: I love the idea of a "Silly Morning Haiku", especially the permission to allow yourself to be silly. Thanks for checking out my blog!