Becalmed – writer’s block, lost one’s muse, creative inertia.
Blank screen staring back
wondering if any black
will grace white again
Poem by Davy Doran – Inside the mind of DavyD
A Poet becalmed, It happens to us all at some point. We find ourselves staring at a blank page, nothing happening, wondering what’s gone wrong. It can lead to frustration and we wonder if it will ever return. These episodes can last days, weeks, months but do return. Sometimes when we get stuck on a theme or subject I feel it is, in a sense, also a form of being becalmed. The Poet should be able to ‘see’ everything and then convey what he sees poetically, as French novelist Gustave Flaubert said
“There is not a particle of life which does not bear poetry within it.”
However, we are often drawn to familiar subjects because we find them easy. By this I mean ‘easy to access’ emotionally. We all have a high degree of what is now termed emotional intelligence, the ability to empathise, feel for others, so we know we can do a good piece on say romance or bereavement. In doing so, perhaps we should guard against complacency, be aware of the temptation to just get a piece written. We should use the familiar subject to open the door again but then explore behind it in depth and raise the bar, strive for perfection.
“Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar” . Shelly
But then again if we need to access deep emotions to open the doors of creativity is there not an argument that the subject chooses us. Is it not better to write 10 pieces on love, that we are pleased with and that reach others than 20 mediocre fillers, on many subjects, that do not leave the Poet proud and satiated.
Perhaps the answer lies in developing an ever greater ability to empathise thus building a wider range of these easy access subjects.
Of course there are many such subjects that are often overlooked, which immediately provide us with opportunities to find inspiration. Other art forms, paintings, music for example. We all have a favourite song, print, photo that we love, that therefore can be accessed easily. Another way is by the recall of peak experiences from our past, this has the advantage of also lifting one’s mood, further breaking the block.
I find reading my work aloud helps a great deal when trying to break free from being becalmed, the rhythm and flow are more apparent, I get a better feel for word meaning and placement. I also feel it’s pointless to try create when I’m becalmed, I just leave it until the creative winds return.
Why does this happen ? It is the nature of the beast, personally I go through cycles of elevated and depressed mood, interestingly it is while transitioning between these two states that I feel most creative.We have many outside influences to cope with, modern life is stressful ! Fatigue, both physical and mental, commitments to work, family and friends, the list is endless. Sometimes I personally just lose interest. We must simply accept it’s part of being a Poet.
A few final thoughts that may help if becalmed by self doubt. Poetry is a noble pursuit, it is in my opinion the only Art that requires a significant amount of intellect as well as imagination to both create ‘and’ appreciate it. That is why most homes contain a collection of music, fiction & non fiction and some wall art but very few have any poetry. We have been given a gift very few will understand, a gift we must share.
Below are a couple of poems, recently posted separately, presented again, together this time on the subject of being becalmed, on the off chance they may provide inspiration.
GIVE ME AN HOUR
PAPER, POET, MIRROR