Persistence is necessary to succeed at anything. To get anywhere with writing it is essential. For me that translates into regular activity and some sort of target that has to be followed and achieved. I write poetry and in general writing poetry requires some kind of inspiration. Reconciling these two sides of my writing-self is not always easy.
Writing poetry that comes from the heart on a set schedule seems to be a contradiction in terms, and yet if I do not have a schedule or at least a regular target, months can go by with no output and one day I wake up to realize that I have slipped out of the writing habit. There is always work to do, e mails to answer, plans to make; always pressing things to do which cannot wait if writing is not given priority.
I therefore write a weekly poetry blog – this gives me a target that is not too daunting and that is easy to fulfill even when the creative juices are trickling at their lowest ebb. A Haiku or micro-poem of just one or two lines sometimes comes to me at a traffic light or in the middle of a conversation. If I get it scribbled down before it slips away that might be my poem for the week. Often short poems get more reaction and feedback than do longer ones. Today many people take their entertainment bite-sized and a two line poem that hits a cord fits right in. When the creative urge is high I write more than one poem in 7 days and can stockpile for droughts. However, as I like to link the weekly poem to some current event or feeling building a useful stockpile is not as simple as I thought it might be. Some poems are just not right for some weeks. Those reading the poems might not notice that the poem on the blog doesn’t reflect my mood that week, but I do, and it doesn’t feel right.
The hard part is when you hit a really dry period. Usually associated with being busy and in low spirits, though sometimes being busy generates lots of poems and very occasionally feeling miserable can inspire a gloomy poem. The great thing is then, that forcing myself to try to look at things from a poetic angle tends to lift the gloom, and getting a few good lines down defiantly lightens the atmosphere. Relating back to Vanessa’s blog last week, I find that reading back through rejected poems or incomplete poems sometimes does the trick, and a poem which at another time just didn’t work suddenly gets a few new lines or a finish that makes it just right.
I love the feeling when inspiration flows. That is one of the great joys of writing, but I’m also grateful for the gloom that can be lifted by writing. In that way persistence and inspiration work together more comfortably than one might imagine.