Posts Tagged ‘writer’s block’

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I am a writer.  I am a poet.  I am also a failure every day.

There is a myth about publishing, that once you get published, the writing becomes easier.  I know that can’t be true.  I’ve read enough blogs from authors to know this, but I’ve had days recently in which I’ve felt like I’ll never write another good poem. Ever.

I think the problem lies in how I am approaching my writing life these days.  I expect to be motivated.  I expect the words to come.  And when they don’t, I feel a flood of failure.  The kind that whispers in my head, “You will never write again.”

I’ve had writing partners go through this and my advice is always, give it time, take a break, go for a walk.  These are all things I give myself permission to do, but when it goes on for days and days, it’s cause for concern.

Early in the morning sitting with my coffee and Charlie on my lap, I looked outside and said to myself, “How is it the cypress trees know that it’s September?”

I didn’t have my notebook.  It was in my school bag in the trunk of my car.  I didn’t want to go outside with bare feet to get it.  And besides, I was worried the muse would escape if I did that.  So I grabbed a nearby pad of paper and wrote a quick poem.  This simple response relieved my writer’s block. Still when I went back to my work in progress, things were no better, but I calmed my disdain with my new poem.  I got up and went to the study where I keep the old typewriter my son-in-law bought me at an estate sale and plinked the September poem, cut it out, and glued it into a beautiful handmade journal I reserve for these private musings.  Ah, there.

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My internal critic is turned on high voltage. I take my journal in my backpack to school to school (I teach at two), and I turn the page and write some words, then a student needs me. I come back to the page focused, thinking, and another student has to share.

Here I am at home with Charlie and there’s nothing worth much in my journal. This is day 13 of my personal challenge to write a poem a day, and my personal critic thinks I can’t possibly keep this up.

Step one: upload a picture. Here’s another sky picture taken from my car with my phone.

Sky Sea

Sky Sea

How to Stay a Poet (A synonym poem)

Attach a line to a thought
with a long string, maybe even wire

Fasten sprinkles of light,
a frosting of powdered sugar would taste good.

Unite clouds to sky to space,
an ethereal concept, I know.

Abide with your favorite poets,
savor their strength, their providence.

Linger over the page, make a statement,
scratch it out, start again.

Remain committed; don’t listen to the witch
in your head telling you to abandon all.

Keep on writing. Stay a poet.
Stay here.

–Margaret Simon

Process: After writing the title, I did a synonym search for “stay.” I used selected synonyms as the first word of each stanza. Creating rules for myself helped me get through writer’s block. This is not one of my finer poems, but it’s a poem. Let’s keep moving forward.

Follow the Progressive Poem to Teacher Dance

Follow the Progressive Poem to Teacher Dance

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What We See

make a life quote

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

15 Lines

an interesting exercise to try when you have writer’s block

I didn’t know what to write about for my Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge, so I went back to an exercise from Poets and Writers The Time is Now to collect 15 lines in a day and write from those lines.

Here are some lines I collected:

I write to honor childhood and extend dignity to children. —Caroline Starr Rose

The more unlikely the guest, the more likely it is that we are entertaining Jesus himself. —Bishop Jake Owensby

A great day to do nothing. —Carol Rice

The way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they become. –Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Everything we carry, even the smallest thing, has weight. —Clare Martin

Love the one you hold. —Mumford and Sons

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. —Winston Churchill



These lines spoke to me and this poem emerged, still rough, but it seems to be wanting to tell me something…

The way you see me is who I become.
I am the unlikely guest who stands
with feet crossed. My toenails are orange.
I wear a cross on my wrist
and another on my neck, in amethyst.

Am I the angel you will entertain today?

I cannot lift you without holding you,
holding some of what weighs you down.
Maybe if we interlock our hands,
intertwine our fingers, the load
will be easier to bear.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

A new writing challenge by way of Teaching Authors: Write Fifteen Minutes a Day on Laurie Halse Anderson’s blog. Join me? Can you write 15 minutes today? Set a timer and just go for it.

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