When I’m beginning a new poem I always start with free writing.
Free writing is when you take an idea, feeling or phrase that’s been going round in your head and let it run wild on the page. Free writing is setting aside a period of time when you can write and write without stopping, not worrying about form or complete sense, just following your imagination’s lead. In free writing you lose the fear of the blank page and of making a less than perfect poem. These are the fears that hold our poems back. In free writing you might write in prose or verse, make spider diagrams or mind maps, let the words whizz wherever they want to on the page.
You will almost always journey somewhere unexpected or uncover something surprising. Write on a little further and you might find the tender spot or the ‘ah yes, that’s it’ place. These places and this kind of writing can feel wild. Don’t be afraid of that; it’s good, it’s where the thrill lies. There’s plenty of time later for shaping, drafting and editing. Plenty of time to bring sense back into the process. You can call on your internal editor after you’ve done some adventuring. But for now, just write!
For more inspiration try Natalie Goldberg’s wonderful book about free writing: ‘Writing Down The Bones‘.