Do you often write from prompts?
Sometimes, but usually only during National Poetry Month or if I'm trying to write a poem a day. Also, if I'm writing with another writer or in a group.
Normally, when I want to write a poem, I sit down, pull a favorite book of poems off the shelf, read a poem or two and see what it brings out in me.
I feel that in this way I am sort of adding to the poetry conversation and not just running into the room with something to talk about, but listening first then responding.
Of course, many times I just run into the room with something to say.
These can be my favorite days as it feels as if poems are bubbling inside and I am a champagne bottle and need to be uncorked. These are the days I'm handing out party favors to the guests.
If I have a day to write, normally I just start as I said by reading poems, then write something, usually a line and see where it goes.
If I'm having trouble getting started I set the timer for 7 minutes and tell myself I have 7 minutes to write a poem. I don't judge myself on the quality, my goal is to write "a poem." Usually just telling myself I have 7 minutes starts to get the words, lines, images out and then I have something to work with and can go from there.
If you leave your page blank, you aren't giving yourself any energy or ideas to move forward. It's sort of like an artist trying to paint a picture without paint! You need words to brush around the page. You need something to move forward. Just as if you were building a path you wouldn't start by dropping the whole path into the yard, you'd start step by step. Each word is a step and will help you choose the direction of your path. Without words, there is no path and no moving forward.
Always put *something* on your page to work with. An image, a line from another poem, a line from your last poem, a subject. From there you can begin...
Do you start with a warm up or "morning pages" or something similar?
Sometimes my blog posts are a warm-up for me. They get my fingers moving and get me into words and patterns.
I really dislike morning pages because as if they steal all my energy and all those sparks that I could use for poems. Morning pages suck them out of me and then I feel I don't have anything left for my own writing.
I did them during Artist Way, but now when I do Artist Way I refuse to do them and instead use my morning pages as a time to write a poem. I don't like to get out all that "stuff" in my brain which is what the morning pages are supposed to do because to me, that's all material, not just stuff to get rid of.
I think all writers have to find a way of working that is effective for them, but I'm always interested in learning how other writers write, what works for them, what helps them get into the groove of a poem. It gives me ideas for ways to mix up my own routine when it begins to feel flat.
One thing I love to do is to write with other writers--either one-on-one or in a large group. I find the energy of others inspires me and moves me into things I would not have written because I riff off of something they wrote, or they bring an exercise for us to try and it surprises me.
I think one thing to do when your routine (or writing) feels flat is to write in different ways. Write just using the language of Forbes magazine and see how different your poems feel. Write a poem and do not allow yourself to use any pronouns. Write then tell yourself you must break your poem at the 5th word or the 9th syllable, what changes in your work?
In certain ways, these self-created rules are kind of prompts, but what I think they do is they make you have to think differently and you can't rely on your old bag of tricks.
Another idea is change where you normally write, or if you write in a notebook, try starting a poem on the computer or vice versa.
Writing should be play, the more we see it as an amusement park for the brain, the better. It should be a house of mirrors, a Tilt-o-Whirl, a rollercoaster where we can try things and know we can't get hurt. We are risking when we write, but it is a safe risk. We aren't rock-climbing, though it's good to be that focused, and if we are, there are lines and tethers to keep up from falling.
I definitely see writing as an enjoyable activity. Something I need to have in my life more often than not.