Don’t be a victim of a non-existent affliction: More poetry prompts for the ‘blocked’

There's no such thing as writer's block. There's no such thing as writer's block. There's no such thing as writer's block. Photo by Flickr user Sharon Drummond.

There’s no such thing as writer’s block. There’s no such thing as writer’s block. There’s no such thing as writer’s block. Because there ARE writing prompts. Photo by Flickr user Sharon Drummond.

I’ve been getting some positive feedback about the Poem of the Month contest — from YDR readers who enjoy seeing the occasional poem in print to people who are just discovering the blog, but also, from the poets who are actually entering their poems.

I’ve always been a fan of structuring my writing time. If you practice art, whether it’s writing, painting, playing guitar, cooking, gardening, etc., you know it can be difficult not only to make time for it, but to get the support of those around you in making time for it. Setting aside time to write once a week, even, is a way of standing up for what you do.

So is always having something to write about. I try not to speak the phrase “writer’s block” (though I’m not always successful). I think writers refer to writer’s block too frequently, when what they usually mean is that they’re having trouble writing about the thing they most WANT to write about at the moment.

But that’s no excuse not to write.

So to keep yourself honest, and to play a little (art should be fun, too!), check out some of these websites that offer writing prompts:

  1.  Robert Lee Brewer at Writer’s Digest offers a poetry prompt every Wednesday. There’s your once-a-week writing time. And there are 234 of them in total, so that will keep you busy for a while.
  2. Found Poetry Review also offers prompts on a semi-regular basis (a few per month).
  3. Poets & Writers magazine has a feature called The Time Is Now, where prompts are offered weekly (Tuesdays for poetry, Wednesdays for fiction, and Thursdays for creative nonfiction). According to PW:

    Sometimes creative writing prompts and exercises result in a workable draft of a story or poem. Other times, they may lead to what can seem like a dead end. But having to generate ideas, being pushed in a direction where you wouldn’t normally go in your writing, and just plain putting pen to paper is often enough to provide that crucial dose of inspiration.

  4. LitBridge has a cool list of 50 poetry prompts on its website. I keep the Poem of the Month prompts pretty general, so if you’re looking for something more unusual, try one of my favorites from LitBridge: “Think about a coworker or colleague you find distasteful. Write a poem about how this person saves your life.” Neat. (Disclaimer: I don’t find any of my coworkers distasteful!)
  5. Whether it’s National Poetry Month or not, the NaPoWriMo website archives its 30-poems-in-30-days prompts. Better late than never.

If you want to write, and you call yourself a writer, there’s no excuse not to put some words — ANY words — down on a regular basis. Prompts can light a fire under us, or they can provide a much-needed distraction from subject matter we’re beating into the ground (i.e., if you can’t stop writing ex-boyfriend poems, try writing an ode to a mylar balloon instead).

And sometimes, you might be surprised by what you create.

Do you use writing prompts? Have you ever created a poem you love based on a prompt?

About Stacia M. Fleegal

York Daily Record multiplatform journalist. Degrees in creative writing from Lycoming College and Spalding University, and a coupla books with my name on them. Central PA native who came home after floating around for a while, but always grounded by words and the places and people I remember.
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2 Responses to Don’t be a victim of a non-existent affliction: More poetry prompts for the ‘blocked’

  1. MSD says:

    I think something to add to the writer’s block discussion, to, is that writers shouldn’t feel so guilty if they need to avoid writing for a while. If we are making the poems, then if we need a break, we need a break. But we need to call it what it is: Taking a break, avoidance, whatever. It’s not a “block” of some magical act. Still, I don’t think we should feel guilty when we’re going through it, as long as we make some kind of attempt at creativity and as long as we come back to the writing.

  2. Excellent point, thank you. Call it what it is, and don’t feel guilty about it. On both sides, it’s about personal responsibility.

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