When it comes to writing poetry, inspiration can truly strike anywhere.
Whether you’re waiting in line at the doctor’s office, sleepily riding the subway, or walking through a park, that creative spark can pop up anywhere.
And in last week’s post, I explained why Google Drive is the optimal tool for writing poetry concepts down while on the go.
This week, I’ll cover some examples of unlikely spots to find poetic inspiration.
The Important Distinction Between Poetry and Prose
It’s important to note that writing poetry is an entirely different beast than writing prose (especially non-fiction).
While it’s relatively simple to schedule time in your calendar to work on a research paper, blog post, or book chapter, poetry is quite unique.
Yes, you can schedule in poetry-writing sessions.
I recommend this — to some degree — if you want to produce a lot of new work.
However, this system also ignores the more nebulous nature of poetic inspiration.
It’s a great idea to sit down and journal, brainstorm, or do writing exercises on a regular basis. But you can’t really force the poetic process itself.
Either you’re in a creative mood or you’re not. Either you’re feeling inspired or you’re not.
As much as you can work on flexing your writing muscles, brainstorming new ideas, and practising, you also have to realize that ideas for poems often come out of nowhere.
So, my advice? Keep doing things like journaling, brainstorming, and writing exercises.
And make sure that you’re reading often. You can’t become a great poet without first becoming a great reader of poetry.
Read the classics — Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Eliot — and also read the work of current writers, such as Canada’s own Souvankham Thammavongsa.
Expose yourself to as much poetry as possible. Take in work from every style of writer.
You’ll learn a lot by reading different types of poetry.
Then, embark on your own poetry-writing adventures. Get outside and explore the world; ideas will likely find you along the way.
Unlikely Spots to Consider
The stereotypical image of a poet is often one of a lonely, tortured soul sitting at their typewriter, or longingly glancing out their window.
Sure, some poets may write in that environment.
But seeing the world that exists outside of your small corner will inevitably inspire you.
Here are some of my favourite, unconventional spots to write poetry:
On the subway/public transit.
This is a big one for me!
I love people-watching, and find that (especially in a metropolitan city such as Toronto), I encounter the most interesting characters while riding the subway.
Snippets of conversations among friends or lovers can trigger new ideas.
The image of commuters accidentally falling asleep while leaning on one another can bring up warm emotions.
So, the next time you’re riding the train, look around and see if there are any interesting scenes around you: Is there a street performer playing the accordion for change? Are two strangers making light-hearted conversation?
Notice what’s happening around you, and if inspiration strikes, try writing a brief poem or two about it.
In a park or other scenic spot.
Getting into nature is another great way to feel inspired.
Try walking to your local park, lake, or river. Find a picnic table to rest on, or a nice spot on the grass.
Observe your surroundings: What kind of animals are around me? What kind of plants? Are there any bodies of water? What does the sky look like? Are there any clouds?
Take time to simply exist within nature. Just be.
You’re bound to find something particularly interesting or beautiful to write about.
An art gallery or museum.
Another way to find inspiration for your poetry is to observe other forms of art.
Check out your local art gallery or museum, and take the time to really soak everything in.
If you’re on a tight budget, most art galleries offer some type of discounted/affordable option.
For example, in Toronto, the AGO is free to visit every Wednesday evening.
Roam the exhibits with a notebook or cell phone in hand to jot down ideas.
Take in all of the beautiful artwork, and pay attention to certain pieces that bring up emotions for you: Did one painting really haunt you? Did another make you confused?
Write about it!
As I mentioned, a burst of creativity can find you anywhere. Be open to finding ideas for new poems literally everywhere you go.
And if you really need some help, try one of the spots on this list.
As always, thanks for reading!
Make sure you hit the Follow button to get notified of my weekly Writing Advice posts, and feel free to reach me at email@example.com.
Happy writing! 😊