I'm so pleased to have an April Guest here at Rocket Kids:
Erica Goss, Poet Laureate of
Los Gatos, California, and the host of Word to
Word, a show about poetry. She has a wonderful new book out that will spur your own creativity: Vibrant Words: Ideas and Inspirations for Poets (PushPen Press
2014). Welcome, Erica!
Activating Your Core Strength as a Writer
By Erica Goss
We’ve all been there: faced with a blank page, we stare
until our eyes glaze over, devoid of ideas. Writer’s block is like insomnia, a
soul-robbing period where our brains refuse to do what we want them to. No more
frustrating situation exists for writers.
If we’re smart, we’ll get up and move around. Exercise is
good for the body and the brain, and movement gets us out of a rut faster than
sitting at our desks. Every so often, we need to shake up our routines.
My book Vibrant
Words: Ideas and Inspirations for Poets has a wealth of ideas designed to
help writers get over writer’s block. I’d like to share the chapter titled
“Core Strengths” with you. This chapter deals with exercise, both literary and
physical, as a technique useful for writers.
If you are familiar with the CrossFit exercise program, you know that
it promotes a group of intense, varied workouts. These include the WOD (Workout
of the Day), which is never the same set of movements two days in a row. The
CrossFit faithful are convinced that the intensity and the variety of the
exercises give them a superior workout.
What do a bunch of sweaty people yelling “arrrrgghhhh!” and throwing
twenty-pound medicine balls around have to do with poetry? Well, plenty. If you
ever embarked on an exercise program only to find that it became less and less
effective, you understand the need to mix up your workout, whether it’s
physical or literary. Varying your writing routine can lead to new insights, a
more confident tone, and can break you out of the creative doldrums.
Here are some suggestions to help you develop your core strength as a
Change your writing routine. For example, you might be convinced you
write better in the wee hours of the morning, or in the afternoon, or at
midnight. Try writing at the time of day when you normally feel less effective.
Practice writing in short, timed bursts. Set a time limit – say five
minutes – and write. Then decrease the time by a minute until you’re down to
one minute. Then decrease it to thirty seconds. Learning to write this way can
be very helpful when you get a sudden inspiration but you’re not at your desk.
Change your location. I don’t mean swap your nice comfy desk for the
local café – that’s too easy. Remember, we’re using CrossFit for a model here!
Take your notebook to a place you have never written before: the edge of the
ocean, an animal shelter, the freeway overpass, a construction site, a karate
studio, an appliance store, a gas station, a preschool, a pharmacy. Practice
those short, timed bursts. Don’t worry if you attract attention.
Vary your reading diet. Always stick to free verse of a certain period?
Try some of the New Formalists. Tend to read mostly people of the same gender
and ethnic group as yourself? Well, there’s really no excuse for that – but
sometimes it takes an effort to seek out what’s different. Read more
challenging work, and don’t give up right away.
Write a bunch of poems with titles like “Squat,” “Deadlift,” “Dips,”
“Rope Climb,” “Pull-ups,” and “Holds.” Make them muscular. Make them sweat.
Then do it again.
Poet Laureate of Los Gatos, CA, and the host of Word to Word, a show about poetry
. She is the author of Wild Place
(Finishing Line Press 2012)
and Vibrant Words: Ideas and Inspirations
(PushPen Press 2014). Her poems, reviews and articles appear
widely, both on-line and in print. She won the 2011 Many Mountains Moving
Poetry Contest and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2010 and 2013.
Please visit her at: www.ericagoss.com