I lead a very unroutined life, creatively. I do not set aside any times of day, or really any specific days, to focus solely on my poetry, which usually results in two different, but related, outcomes: 1) i sometimes go frighteningly long without actively writing and 2) when those moments of poetry do occur, they are more or less random and frenzied transcribings of things that have spent a hefty amount of time percolating in me wherever such things percolate.
Ultimately though, my lack of routine stems from one main source: i cannot force myself to write. Any time i have done so, the result is objectively terrible. I need to be moved to write, which, as previously stated, can be a rather infrequent experience. But, there are things i do that help me maintain the state of being where i am the most susceptible to being moved to write. It feels a lot like gaining the trust and acquaintance of animals by cultivating an open, non-threatening, space and inhabiting that space with as quiet and as small a presence possible. The image i most often get is birds coming to eat out of your hand: if you’re at the tree line often enough, and they get to know you well enough, they’ll be way more likely to visit.
But anyway, the things i do to maintain a poetic state of being. I go on walks as often as i can, usually somewhere nature-adjacent, which allows me gather fodder for my poems (my poetry is very outdoor-leaning) as well as helps recalibrate me toward quietness and openness and awareness. I try to read as often as i can too, which admittedly has been a struggle the last year or so, but i just started a book review sidecast to my main podcast and that’s helped me get back into the swing of reading regularly in a major way.
I am also very inspired by conversations with other creatives, so i never (well, almost never) shy away from hanging out and talking with my writer and artist friends. My writing group and podcast help tremendously with this, as have residencies. I mean, i highly, highly recommend residencies just in general; they are some of the few places where you can shut out everything else and just focus on being receptive to creativity. Aaaand i listen to a ton of music on an almost continuous basis. I relate to and experience music very emotionally and, as my poetry leans pretty hard toward emotive as well, there have been many times an album or a song shook a poem loose.
Aside from that, i just try to listen and pay attention. And have a lot of patience.
About The Author
mychael zulauf is a poet and musician currently kicking around Baltimore. He runs akinoga press (akinogapress.com) and hosts the poetry conversation podcast so...poetry? as well as the book review sidecast so...poetry? reviews, both of which can be found at soundcloud.com/sopoetry.