I haven’t written a poem in a month. As someone who feels like the core of who I am is my writing, especially my poetry, this stings. It feels bad. It feels icky. It feels a bit like failure. I am sure other poets, and writers, may agree. When we are not doing what we strongly consider to be our thing, our art, our creativity there’s a feeling of being a fraud, a fake, an imposter. Right?
Like we talk the talk but are not walking the walk.
I have not felt moved to write a poem in weeks. I still do not feel moved to write a poem. Why? This is part of the journey. The asking why. There sometimes is a why. And sometimes, there is not a why. I think the pressure on poets to poet all of the time might be pretty intense. And the pressure on writers to write something, anything, that is good is also stressful to keep up with. Especially if this writing is what we want to make a living from. Which is what many of us dream of doing.
There are plenty of articles or websites about how to write a poem, how to get your muse back, how to be a writer who writes every day. This might not be one of those articles. This is maybe an article about how to just be okay. Be okay with waiting. Be okay with knowing you are still a writer, still a poet, even if you haven’t written a coherent sentence or stanza in months. Sure, writers write, this is true. But sometimes writers take breaks. Sometimes writers do every other thing out there that is not writing because the writing is taking a break from them. Is it writer's block? I do not know. I am not a fan of that term I suppose. It makes it sound like there’s something blocking the flow of our creativity. Like a dam. Like a big black block shutting down the whole thing. When maybe that is not what is happening.
Maybe what is happening is that our creativity is going and flowing in other areas for a bit and we have to just let it. Accept it. Don’t judge it. Don’t punish it. And by this I mean, let’s not judge and punish ourselves for whatever this is. In my case I am not writing poetry right now because that is not where my inner voice is going. Poetry is a voice and a rhythm in my mind, for me. I feel it and hear it and then I rush to write it down when it comes. Right now, she is not coming.
But other forms of writing are. And I appreciate them and accept them and like them too. Also, maybe my creativity is coming out in the form of fashion and putting together my summer looks. Or maybe it is flowing towards reading, reading, and reading so that I absorb the words of others in ways that might spark my own words eventually. Sometimes our creativity expresses itself in cooking, or rearranging our living room, or spoiling our cats or kids.
There is this relentless push on writers to be productive and inspired all of the time. Guess what? That push is not the best thing for creatives. It might actually harm us.
Sometimes our creativity is blocked, sure. But this might come in the form of having to handle the stress of life in ways that are creative, so, I believe it never truly shuts down. It’s just that now we might have to figure out how we are going to pay rent, afford gas, and still be able to buy that outfit or that theater ticket we really want to treat ourselves with.
So, go easy on yourself. Yes, this is to me, but also to you. You are a writer. You are a poet. I am a writer. I am a poet. It’s just that right now certain aspects of this writing are not free flowing and spilling over onto any pages. They have before, they will again.
When creatives, and writers, get down on ourselves this is what blocks our creativity. This is writer’s block, poet’s block, artist’s block. We put the wall up with our penchant for self-sabotage and our buying into the harmful lies of productivity culture. Having Netflix binge watching days is part of productivity. Having days where we just do our thing whatever it is - working at our jobs, caring for our kids, making meals, ordering Door Dash, going on walks, rinse, repeat - this is also part of creativity. Creativity has to go underground sometimes. It has to hibernate. It has to breathe without us asking us “Where are you? What’s taking you so long? When are you coming back? Are we there yet?” like impatient children in the backseat of a car.
You, as a creative, are the driver and the car. You are the vehicle. Creativity is the road. Sometimes it is smooth and easy and full of amazing sites to see and feelings to feel. And sometimes it is boring and bumpy and blase. It does not matter. The road twists and turns. We need to stop for gas and food. But think of this, remember this - no matter what, we are always on the road, on the path, of our creativity.