Finding Inspiration

Posted by Pam Haas, GD Poetry Reader for 5.1

As a writer, I’m constantly looking around for different sources to draw inspiration from. Recently, however, I’ve had a bit of a block. Every writer knows that feeling when the muse has abandoned them and nothing seems like poetry, or when the day feels too dreary and drippy to compose a satisfying painting. So to combat writer’s block for myself and anyone who may be similarly searching around for creative encouragement, I asked a few fellow student writers at SUNY Geneseo to respond to the question: Where do you get your inspiration from? This is what they have to say:

Lizzie Pellegrino: Inspiration is a funny thing. On one hand, I feel like I find it everywhere. I find it in my geology professors, and how they word things in specific ways without acknowledging the beauty in their word choice (my favorite is probably “solid olivine”.) I find inspiration from eavesdropping on conversations while walking on Main Street. It’s in the works of literature we read, the words I mumble to myself while walking up and down the stairs to do loads of laundry, in the ways I try to understand my own thoughts and the images I see. I also like letting myself be a “bad” researcher. I go onto Google, search something that interests me like “minerals used to clean pollution” or “octopus communication,” and I let websites take me where they will. Learning, I feel, is always a good source of inspiration, and that’s probably why I don’t find inspiration hard to come across.

I find it hard to use, though. Whenever I write it’s usually from a prompt that I either created myself (like mentally compose a poem while hiking and immediately write it down once you stop hiking) or ones that other people provide me. I change moods, change styles, change the music that I’m listening to (or not listening to). I play around with aesthetics: burn a candle, put on eyeliner, change into sweatpants or a dress. It doesn’t really matter. When it gets down to actually writing, I just have to have a large swath of open time where I can allow myself to be comfortable and just go at it.

William Antonelli: It’s no secret that I’m a rather shy person—thus, it’s in my writing that I find myself able to express emotions I wouldn’t be able to otherwise. In my prose and poetry, I can externalize my fears, hopes, dreams, and though that I find a unique sort of peace. It’s a cliché to say that the goal of writing is catharsis, but for me, that’s all too true.

Juliana Thompson: My muses are the many universes I see throughout the day.  Which is to say, going through everyday life, I don’t see just the reality, but the magic and fantasy behind it. So each thing can be an inspiration in many different ways depending on what world my mind is living in at the time.  I tend to anthropomorphize a lot of things, too, so it seems like everything is bursting with life.

Emily Ramirez: I want to say that I get my inspiration from little instances – I remember looking at the chalkboard in our class on Tuesday and thinking about how a professor covers himself in white to teach his students. That image to me connotes so many different things and so I wrote a poem about what it feels like to teach yourself to someone. It’s a weird thought, but I think it’s relevant to what I was feeling at the time.

And that thought leads into another way that I get the ideas for my poetry, which is creating something from the way that I feel. Usually, I’m confused about my feelings, but now I think that feeling a certain emotion and then translating it into writing helps me understand what I was feeling. So that’s another way I like to write.

Simone Louie: I think I get my inspiration from things that trouble me—personal convictions about my pride and selfishness, children and refugees in war, being away from home, sharing a friend’s burden, seeing the struggles disabled people go through… I think things that trouble us tell us what we value as important, and that is a major part of self-discovery.

The muse for writing and art manifests itself in many vastly different forms, as these writers have found. Whether you’re idly staring at a chalk board or following a chain of internet searches, I hope you have no difficulty in finding the spark that ignites the creative gene in your own artistic pursuits. The deadline for submissions to Gandy Dancer has been extended to October 8th at 11:59 P.M., so go get inspired and submit!

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