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I sometimes run into writer’s block, a time when I simply cannot come up with an idea for a poem no matter how hard I try. When I find myself in this situation, one of my favorite techniques to spark a nidus for a poem involves using a book I know each of you have on your bookshelf. The Dictionary. Go get it and open it to a random page. Place your finger on that page and write down the word your finger lands on. Now pick nineteen more words in this fashion until you have twenty words. Carefully look them over, discern any possible relation between the words, are some a similar color or tone, do any rhyme? Perhaps a particular word jumps off the page and demands your attention. Maybe that word is the subject of your poem.

Now set your timer for twenty minutes and write a poem that includes at least ten of the words on your list. Just do it!

Whew! Okay, you finished! Now look at what you did. Most likely, at the very least, you have a start for a poem, or perhaps the scaffolding of a poem you can fill in, or maybe even a complete poem. Whatever it is, it’s better than what you had before you began, which was nothing.

Also continue with my favorite advice. If you want to write good poems, read good poetry.

Good luck and happy writing!

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