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Posts tagged ‘writing inspiration’

Poetic inspiration for your writing

We’ve all faced the need to clean out our closets and finetune our possessions, whether we’re making a move, downsizing our living space, or just reorganizing.

We have to make hard decisions about what to keep and what to toss or give away. And sometimes the decisions aren’t hard. We wonder why we still have that stack of papers or miscellaneous junk that we never should have saved to begin with.

Exercise: Think about a time when you sorted through your stuff and had to decide what to get rid of and what to save. Think about how you felt. What were the emotions? What tugged at you and why? What was hard? What was easy? Now, write a poem, story, essay, or scene about it.

For inspiration and one poet’s take on getting rid of stuff, read the poem below from the American Life in Poetry project. Visit the American Life in Poetry website to sign up to receive a free weekly poem in your e-mail inbox.

American Life in Poetry: Column 497


I’d guess everybody reading this has felt the guilt of getting rid of belongings that meant more to somebody else than they did to you. Here’s a poem by Jennifer Maier, who lives in Seattle. Don’t call her up. All her stuff is gone.

Rummage Sale

Forgive me, Aunt Phyllis, for rejecting the cut
glass dishes—the odd set you gathered piece
by piece from thirteen boxes of Lux laundry soap.

Pardon me, eggbeater, for preferring the whisk;
and you, small ship in a bottle, for the diminutive
size of your ocean. Please don’t tell my mother,

hideous lamp, that the light you provided
was never enough. Domestic deities, do not be angry
that my counters are not white with flour;

no one is sorrier than I, iron skillet, for the heavy
longing for lightness directing my mortal hand.
And my apologies, to you, above all,

forsaken dresses, that sway from a rod between
ladders behind me, clicking your plastic tongues
at the girl you once made beautiful,

and the woman, with a hard heart and
softening body, who stands in the driveway
making change.


American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2013 by Jennifer Maier from her most recent book of poems, Now, Now, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013. Poem reprinted by permission of Jennifer Maier and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2014 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

How to break out of the writing doldrums

In Carly’s post, “Four tips to defeat your writing funk,” she shares some tips for what to do when you get stuck in your writing project. Her ideas prompted me to share a few of my own. Goodness knows we all get into the writing doldrums from time to time, but there’s no need to panic!

  1. Give your brain a break. The other day I was stuck on a scene but I was tired and my brain just wasn’t working. So I lay down on the couch and dreamed myself into my story. I didn’t force it but just kind of gently played around with some ideas in my mind. Sometimes, I might fall asleep doing this but that day, an idea floated to the surface that fit, so I got up and continued writing. Score one for my muse!
  2. Write somewhere different. I was working on a piece at my desk the other night and just couldn’t get into it. I felt uncomfortable for some reason. So, I made a cup of tea and curled up in my big white chair in the same room. Before I knew it, I was back in the flow of writing and having fun. Routines are great until your brain gets to complacent. That’s when you have to trick it with a new routine. Read more

Have a writing project to finish this month? Join #ProjectAugust

I attend at least two writing conferences each year—the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association Conference and the Surrey International Writers’ Conference. Both are fun and offer great courses, events, and opportunities to network, but I mainly attend for the opportunity to fully, one hundred percent immerse myself in the profession of writing. Three entire days where I eat, sleep and dream everything writing.

Being part of a writing community is important to me because it immerses me in what I love and feeds my soul. This month, through author kc dyer’s blog, I have an opportunity to immerse myself in another kind of writing community.

Do you have a writing project or any writing goals you’d like to achieve this month? Need some extra motivation and a community to do it in?  Dyer is offering #ProjectAugust this month—an opportunity to make yourself accountable to finish whatever project you choose. Read more

Four questions to help you mine your life for story ideas

Most of my writing is personal. No matter what genre I’m writing in—poetry, creative nonfiction, or fiction—much of what I write about comes from my personal experience. In her post, “What obsessions will end up in your writing?” my blog partner, Carly, asks us to consider what events in our lives have “marked us.” Looking to these events and memories can be a treasure trove of story ideas.

What memories or stories haunt you?

I still remember reading a news article over ten years ago about an older couple that went out for a drive and got lost for three days because they both had Alzheimer’s and couldn’t remember where they lived. This short article in the paper has stayed with me all these years. Obviously, it will become a short story someday.

What poems or spoken-word performances inspire you? Read more

Story inspiration from Neil Gaiman: write a story for a friend or loved one

Stories come into being in all kinds of ways. They may start from a dream we’ve had, an overheard conversation, an image we see driving down the road, a newspaper story, or from hearing an author read their work aloud. Many of my poems or stories have come from these inspirations.

Author Neil Gaiman said his most recent book, “The Ocean at the End of the Lane,” started out as a story for his wife, musician Amanda Palmer. In an interview with Tim Martin for The Telegraph, Gaiman says that while she was away recording an album, he thought he’d write her a story because he missed her.

“She doesn’t like fantasy very much, but she really likes honesty, and she really likes me. Writing it was like going, look, this was me. You’re always interested in me. The family isn’t really mine, the things that happened aren’t really mine, but the landscape, the place it happens, is me, and the eyes out of which this kid looks are those of seven-year-old me.” Read more

Three posts to help you mine your life for writing ideas

One of my goals this week is to brainstorm ideas for a series of new poems. I thought I’d go through some of our previous posts for writing inspiration.

I hope you find the following three posts helpful in your own quest for writing ideas:

Exercises in memoir: finding your story” offers several exercises to help you mine your memory for anything from memoir to poetry to fiction.

Embrace your day job for writing inspiration” offers a Ted Kooser poem and insights from Carly about finding writing ideas at work.

Four way to cultivate writerly inspiration” lists more ways to find inspiring ideas.

Generate writing ideas with online photo galleries

In my last post Overcome writer’s block and generate new ideas with tarot or picture cards,” I wrote about how I stumbled upon the benefits of using tarot cards to inspire my writing.

I’d like to share another great source of inspiration I discovered recently. Sometimes, Carly and I will go to Shutterstock or iStock to find photos for our blog posts. Recently, we purchased a large number of photos, and I helped find pictures for our blog. What I discovered was a plethora of inspiration!  Read more