I am in the throes of preparing a book length manuscript of
my poems, so I have spent time looking at all of them in order
to include my strongest work to date. I thought I would pass
along some ideas that were at the root of several of my poems.
The twenty writing suggestions below include the terms "freewrite"
and "brainstorming." These two methods help to loosen
the brain at virtually any stage of writing, but when I am at
the very beginning of making a poem, it is essential for me
to practice one or both. I need to know what is on my mind,
without censure, without the "editor" on my shoulder,
without the interference of reason or logic. Anything goes.
They put me in a state of freefall through my consciousness
and/or subconscious. If something emerges that embarrasses,
excites, frightens, saddens, overjoys or thrills me, it may
be the hot spot needed for me to begin a poem.
Freewriting is akin to the automatic writing that Surrealist
poets practiced to get at what was going under the surface of
their minds. Odd juxtapositions and terrifying collections of
images emerged as they wrote non-stop for several minutes, without
thinking about hemming themselves in by correctness, "proper"
or safe language. I ask you to practice this method and afterward
read your freewrites, circling any and all surprising, disturbing,
unusual language. Use these words and phrases to begin a poem.
Brainstorming is a list-making device that requires the same
"anything goes" mentality. Write quickly and steadily.
Begin the list with something like "ten things that I wish
would happen," then start emptying out your brain.
Suggestions Loosely Based on Poems I Have Written:
Should you try to work with any of these suggestions, remember
that freewriting and brainstorming are beginnings, ways to pull
out your innermost responses. The work continues when the poem
begins to take on a life of its own.
I am leaving the door open for next month's topic. Because I
am alternating between poetry and art, I will keep alert to
what my art muse has to say during the month. You can be sure
I will be brainstorming and freewriting my way to the next Judy's
Journal. Contact me (email@example.com)
to share strategies that got you started writing your poems.