If the inkwell of your inner Shakespeare seems dried up, don’t put down that quill! While lack of inspiration is annoying whether you’re in an intro to poetry course or advanced, it does not have to derail your desire or need (deadlines!) to write. Consider one of these following prompts to wet your nib:
1. Read Poetry
Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin offers this advice to writers: “1. Read lots. 2. Write lots.” Half of being a writer is being a reader. Before I write poetry, I resort to the works of others. Reading a half hour of Anne Sexton’s poetry is more likely to start me off on a poem than whimpering about being a talentless schmuck. Find a poet you respect, then delve into their work. The exposure to the well-honed craft will spur ideas you didn’t have before.
2. Find Your Muse
Relationships can be a great source of inspiration, as can unrequited love, miscommunicated romances, and other relationship mishaps. Think Shakespeare. Or Plath. Or Sharon Olds. Or any other number of poets and writers. If you are already entangled with someone, great! Jot down notable things about them and your relationship. If you are muse-less, consider a party, a bar, or a dorm social. There’s bound to be an Erato somewhere.
3. Refer to Craigslist
While you may not be seeking a car or a position of employment, consider Craigslist personal ads for inspiration. These ads are full of pining or lustful souls whose misspelled or desperate callings can be (creatively) arousing. Draw on the sentiments of these ads to articulate them in a more (or less) sophisticated way.
Disclaimer: This prompt is not intended to be used in conjunction with prompt two.
As French poet Charles Baudelaire said “be continually drunk! On wine, on poetry or on virtue as you wish.” For this prompt, wine is a particularly fine choice. Wine will loosen the words and banish your inner critic. Just remember not to get drunk. A buzz is enough to stir the words.
Disclaimer: This, of course, is prescribed only for those who are of legal drinking age.
5. Stare at a Wall (Or a Desk)
Ever find interesting phrases or sentiments scrawled on bathroom walls or carved into desks? Incorporate those into a poem. Consider the students who wrote them and the nature of the phrases they wrote. What is the meaning behind “This class blows”? Do you think heart encircled “AR + LC” ever made it? Write it out!
With the above prompts at your disposal, tapping into your inner Shakespeare should be no sweat at all!