If you’ve written anything before, you know how hard it is to stare at a blank screen and wait for inspiration to strike. It can take anywhere from minutes to hours, and oftentimes, the longer you wait, the harder it gets. During the pandemic, it was all I could do to make myself write. My writing life was once full of adventure—coffee shops, museums, park benches, just about anywhere I could bring my notebook. There was something about the bustle and noise that made my thoughts come alive. So when everything came to a screeching halt during that spring of 2020, I was no longer able to chase inspiration across the city in my Nissan hatchback. I had to find a way to inspire myself.
I was always taught to write from experience, a writer can mine their memories to create the best described, most realistic story. When I was no longer able to experience the world, the vast unknown teeming with potential poem ideas, my creativity crashed and I didn’t write consistently for a long time. Poems became precious currency for me, I carried my ideas as far as they would take me and I savored the errant lines that would pop into my head as I was doing homework or playing Animal Crossing. Even though I wasn’t writing, I wasn’t forcing myself to extend my mind beyond its limits. I was able to keep the joy and mystery of my craft close to my heart until I felt it was time to devote my focus to poetry once again. Eventually, writing became an outlet for me when my world felt too small. I wrote novelesque journal entries about my pizza delivery job and various boyfriends, just as dramatic as when I was in high school. Even writing in this form, one that I would never dare publish, helped me to hone my writing skills while venting my frustrations. Any writing at all is better than no writing, and journaling is the perfect way to make your writing work for you. I used to believe that I should only write if I have something already perfectly articulated to say, but the truth is that writing is the most fun when you can allow yourself to play, and your writing can improve so much by taking it less seriously.
Creative burnout is real, and it can be very scary. You may wonder if you still have a future as an artist, or you may feel as though you have nothing to say. The best thing you can do to combat this is to be kind to yourself, allow joy to spark whenever it pleases, and try not to force it.
Here are some methods I’ve used to reignite my poetic passion, maybe they’ll work for you, too!
- Pick a song with lyrics that speak to you. Pull up the lyrics online, and as you listen to the music, copy down the lyrics to the song by hand. You may notice something about the lyrics that you hadn’t before, and you may be able to figure out what techniques the songwriter uses that make this song so powerful for you.
- Listen to slam poetry. It’s so inspiring to hear these authors perform their work in exactly the way you’re meant to hear it. The slam poets are brimming with strong emotions that will undoubtedly rub off on you. Slam poetry always leaves me buzzing with potential energy. I recommend Button Poetry on YouTube!
- Take away the pressure of paper. The next time inspiration strikes, don’t rush to your notebook/computer! Instead, try to build off the momentum of the initial thought, plugging in new phrases or directions as you feel necessary. Repeat the lines to yourself to experiment with sound and rhythm. Your mind, your rules!
Sigma Tau Delta
Sigma Tau Delta, International English Honor Society, was founded in 1924 at Dakota Wesleyan University. The Society strives to
- Confer distinction for high achievement in English language and literature in undergraduate, graduate, and professional studies;
- Provide, through its local chapters, cultural stimulation on college campuses and promote interest in literature and the English language in surrounding communities;
- Foster all aspects of the discipline of English, including literature, language, and writing;
- Promote exemplary character and good fellowship among its members;
- Exhibit high standards of academic excellence; and
- Serve society by fostering literacy.
With over 900 active chapters located in the United States and abroad, there are more than 1,000 Faculty Advisors, and approximately 9,000 members inducted annually.
Sigma Tau Delta also recognizes the accomplishments of professional writers who have contributed to the fields of language and literature.
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