This weekend I was reading the blog of the poet Julianna Baggott, who also writes novels and young adult fiction under the pen names Bridget Asher and N. E. Bode, and I realized that nobody should waste time reading my blog. You all ought to just go over there and read hers. Really.
For example, this weekend Baggott published a post entitled When Do You Sleep. The Truth about being a best-selling author of 17 books and mother of 4 kids (see, right there you know you should be over at her blog, not here at the author-of-one-chapbook-and-one-not-best-selling-book-and-mother-of-only-two's blog), in which she gives specific advice about how to make time for writing which includes timing your caffeine consumption, writing through exhaustion, and noticing patterns of what gets you fired up to write so that you can replicate these conditions later. Plus plenty more specific tips (compared to the one tip I have of not wearing your glasses in the house so you don't see the dust) for finding extra minutes to write. Stop reading my blog right now and go over there and read hers.
So I keep POSING QUESTIONS about how to write better (like asking how to harness your unconscious to write for you and how to write when you are not writing) but Baggott ANSWERS those questions in her post entitled Efficient Creativity. How to Write While Not Writing and Other Tips. Quoting Norman Mailer:
"Over the years, I’ve found one rule. It is the only one I give on those occasions when I talk about writing. A simple rule. If you tell yourself you are going to be at your desk tomorrow, you are by that declaration asking your unconscious to prepare the material. You are, in effect, contracting to pick up such valuables at a given time. Count on me, you are saying to a few forces below: I will be there to write." (The Spooky Art: Some Thoughts on Writing, Random House, 2003)
Baggott goes on to give specific tips, including reading through a list of characters (she's talking about writing fiction here) on mornings when you aren't going to or can't write first thing, so that they are your mind's companions during the day, giving you a jump start when you finally do sit down to write. This can work for poetry just as well. First thing in the morning, or before bed last thing at night, read through the poem you are working on and let your unconscious do some of the work.
Follow Mailer's tip and make an appointment with yourself to write. Trust in your unconscious to prepare something for you in the meantime.
And most of all, stop reading this blog, and go read Baggott's, or read Mailer, or better yet, just go write!
(Oh, and Julianna Baggott offers a free pdf download of her first book of poetry, This Country of Mothers (Southern Illinois University Press) here, if you scroll about halfway down the page. This will inspire you to purchase her other collections of poetry, Compulsions of Silkworms and Bees (Pleiades Press, distributed by LSU Press), and Lizzie Borden in Love: Poems in Women's Voices (Southern Illinois University Press)).
Now, seriously, stop reading this blog!