Source Code

So, I’ve noticed that when writing poetry, my poems tend to turn out better when I’m doing a writing exercise rather than if I’m just sitting down writing from nothing. I think it gives credence to the idea that using constraints, as writers, can help kickstart our creative juices. It’s a trick I used often when writing fiction. It usually starts with a character and a quirk and then it turns into a short blurb, an outline, and eventually if it picks up enough steam, a story. Poetry works the same way for me. It reminds me of working a garden. It’s hard to grow a plant without having a seed first. These exercises work as a seed from which we can water with our own creativity and blossom a plant that will eventually become a beautiful flower. The exercise where we had to pick a book unrelated to the creative side of literature, I ended up choosing a finance book. The terms and sayings just hit me in a way where I felt a door unlock and the words came pouring out.

I think it’s interesting pondering the things that act as inspiration for us. I usually write about nature and the environment, so to have a book about finance inspire me to write poetry was really weird. Does anyone else have seemingly contradictory or odd sources of inspiration?

2 Replies to “Source Code”

  1. I also find writing exercises really helpful. My thoughts are always so scattered that if I have an idea for a poem, I always end up straying from it, or getting overwhelmed with a bunch of different ideas while writing a poem that I ultimately stop writing completely. One thing I found that really helps me is thinking of what I want to talk about in my poem and then just free writing some random ideas into a paragraph. Then, I’ll pick out what I like the most and try to shape a poem from it. Also, personally, a lot of my poems are fiction. I might take a moment in time that actually happened, or perhaps a location I have been to, and then I’ll create a story where there wasn’t one. You mentioned you like writing fiction, and while I’m not sure if you’ve tried writing fiction in poetry, I highly recommend it.

    I also find that forcing myself to write, even just a little bit, and then coming back to it a day or two later is extremely helpful. Sometime’s it is almost like the idea is really good, but it’s just not the right day for yourself to be writing it if that makes sense. Almost as if your subconscious needs some time to contemplate, as crazy as that sounds. I think it’s really interesting how you picked up a finance book for the writing prompt. I picked up a book I didn’t know, but I still tried to find something I might have been interested in. I never thought to pick up a book on something of which I have actually no experience at all. I am definitely going to be doing that in the future.

  2. Nick and I are housemates and were recently discussing poetry inspiration, and he was telling me about how weird twitter posts/memes – or, shitposts, as they are more commonly called – end up bending words in such freakish and unexpected ways that you can’t help but use them as the source of poetry. Recently my girlfriend has been losing their mind over an image of a Costco employee at one of those little free sample booths who has a roll of toliet paper on a silver platter in front of her. The caption reads, word for word, “so i just wipe my own ass in front of everybody”. Not to treat Costco memes as high artforms, but there is something to be said about the fact that this sentence has no real breaks, no punctuation, and is more of a statement than a question. It doesn’t follow traditional sentence structure, and that’s why it’s memorable. I don’t think any of us are writing poetry to be funny (though it’s certainly something worth attempting!), but we are writing it to be remembered, to some extent – and that’s what “wipe my own ass” is doing. That’s one place to look to for inspiration, I suppose.

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