I want to welcome my dear Covers to The Poetry Cove’s first official blog post to kick off NaPoWriMo and provide you with the tools you need to complete the Challenge. This blog post will give you ten unusual writing tips that I am sure will help you get into the mood for creating art. Be sure to stick around for more tips from my fellow bloggers in the weeks to come. I wish you all the best of luck in this endeavor!
Record a poem rather than write one
The mind often works faster than the hand, making the physical process of writing (or typing) a cork to your overflowing ideas. And with poetry having a longstanding history of oral tradition, speaking poetry into existence can be the perfect way to turn your thoughts into a work of art.
To do this, I recommend using your phone to record yourself for 30 minutes at a time, as you say out loud any ideas or poetic lines that pop into your head. They do not need to be coherent.
Rather than sitting down and speaking directly into your phone, I would suggest doing another activity as you perform this exercise and putting the phone in your pocket or a nearby table so that you almost forget it’s there. Activities conducive to this exercise would include household chores such as laundry, cleaning, cooking, and things like going for a walk or taking a shower (if you have counter space where your phone won’t get wet).
Doing a low cognitive effort task as you do this will help your thoughts flow more freely, just like when you’re taking a shower and somehow find yourself humming a song or talking to yourself. It might feel weird at first to say your thoughts out loud, but don’t worry – it will get easier with time.
After the 30 minutes or so are up, transcribe the recording on your computer. You will have some raw materials to piece together a poem from, just like that!
Perform the following creativity meditation
I find personally that my creativity is heavily influenced by my surroundings and what I am indulging my senses with. To get in the mood for writing, there is a certain ritual/meditation I like to do. This meditation is best done at night under the veil of darkness.
First, start by turning off all the lights and lighting a few candles. If you can, open a window to feel and smell the crisp outside air and hear the hum of the outside world. Next, play some soft music that makes you feel calm and puts you in an almost dreamlike state.
You can also play some rain or nature sounds if there is not much outside your window. After preparing your environment, lie down on your back in a comfortable position and relax and focus on what your senses are experiencing. Try not to think about the outside world or any stresses in your life.
Observe the thoughts flowing in and out of your head as though you are an outsider looking into your mind. As you do this, you may find that the ideas you are having become increasingly more exciting and artistic.
The ‘one line’ technique
The idea of sitting down and writing an entire poem can be daunting. So what if all you had to do was write one line. About what, you ask? Well, how about, about anything. You can do that, can’t you? Just write one great poetic line that comes to your head, then walk away.
Have a specific notebook, word document, or page on your notes app to write these down. Spend a few moments every day trying this exercise. After some time, you should have a lengthy collection of lines that you can piece together to make a coherent poem or write a poem from.
Embody your favorite artist
One of the best ways to get good at an art form is to copy another artist as closely as possible. Anecdotally, I can attest to its success. To do this, select some poems of an artist you love and closely read their work, searching for stylistic, linguistic, and thematic elements that make this artist’s work discernable.
Then, pretend it is your job to write a poem that could trick this artist’s fanbase into believing it was theirs. Some artists do this as practice then scrap the poetry they’ve written, while others use this to create their actual work.
You may wonder if this is considered cheating or plagiarism, and the answer depends on the degree to which it is copied. If, for instance, you copied a painting precisely as it is, then, in that case, it may be considered plagiarism. In the instance of a poem, though, even if you copy another artist's style, the result will still always be unique, which makes it completely ethical. After all, good artists borrow; great artists steal.
Get dressed up
As someone who subscribes to Oscar Wilde’s notions of art for art’s sake and the fundamental goal of art being beauty, I cannot undermine the pivotal role that things such as your surroundings and what you’re wearing play on your mood and thought process. Ask any girl who’s ever dyed her hair red, and she will attest to the personality-altering effects of a drug we call aestheticism.
Before you sit down to write, spend some time putting on an outfit you feel good in, beautifying your environment, and glamming yourself up for no reason at all. Still, the intrinsic pleasure will not only put you in a mood where creativity can flow more easily but also ritualize your writing process, making it as much a part of your art as the poem itself.
Write a letter to someone you have strong emotions towards
I find that the process of writing a letter directed to a specific person naturally brings out emotionally profound and even poetic ways of speaking. The more emotional salience this person has in your life, the better this exercise will work. It could be a lover, but it could also be someone you have strong negative feelings towards.
After writing your letter, go back and break the letter up into lines and stanzas as though it were a poem. After completing this, go back again and edit the writing to incorporate more poetic techniques such as alliteration, rhyme, and repetition.
Continue the process of rereading and editing until you are satisfied with the completed poem. This will leave you with a beautiful and profound epistolary poem.
Once you try writing to a person, you can also get more creative and write a letter to a personified concept, idea, or thing, such as a letter to summer or loneliness.
Research a mythical/religious figure
Myths, mysticism, and religions offer an abundant arsenal of stories, philosophy, symbolism, and characters that can be used as inspiration for poetry regardless of your belief in any of these things. The sheer volume of mystic figures to choose from may seem intimidating, so for this reason, I recommend just choosing one at random and then spending some time reading about them.
By doing so, you will not only be gaining inspiration from the figure themself but also from the poetic language that is often present in writings on the topic of mysticism and mythology. After your research is complete, there are many avenues you can go down when it comes to writing your poem.
You could write a poetic retelling of the myth, use the myth as a metaphor for another subject such as relationships or modern-day politics, or relate the character to yourself to describe something occurring in your own life, to name a few.
Revel in the obscure
When it comes to writing, we often get so bogged down in making a poem make sense, we forget about everything else. But what if you tried to write without ever thinking about how a poem would come across to other people or if they would “get it” or not? What if you wrote down the obscure and idiosyncratic fragments of your creative brain with only attention to the beauty of the words together and the emotion behind them?
You could tap into the parts of your creativity that are usually stifled by logic and create a masterpiece that may be beyond comprehension to some but beautiful nonetheless. Or, you could be surprised when others somehow find meaning in your most obscure writing.
It is well researched that physical activity can increase brain function and productivity. And if exercise is a facilitator of doing work, then dance is a facilitator of writing poetry.
Not only does dancing disperse the endorphins and adrenaline throughout your body that will make you feel excited to write, but the dance itself can be viewed as an art form akin to poetry, with every movement you make being a single word that flows perfectly and effortlessly into the next, guided by rhythm and emotion.
Though my boyfriend might find me crazy for it, I have spent countless 2ams dancing in the dark through my kitchen with a dreamy soundtrack playing in my ears (I highly recommend Julee Cruise) and a gin and tonic condensing in my hand. There is something almost spiritual about doing this, and I find that afterward, the poetry flows.
Keep a dream journal.
My dreams are the most interesting thing about me, and I am entirely envious of unconscious me, who somehow, with no intent or effort, can create stories of depth and profoundness that conscious me can... only dream of. So why waste this excellent capability that our brains are capable of? Instead, let’s harness this power and turn our dreams into poetry by keeping a dream journal and drawing from it when we sit down to write.