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I’ve been on an exercise kick lately. I joined a gym for the first time in over ten years. I bought some new spandex and a food scale. And I read (okay, skimmed) a bunch of books on working out and diet that almost unanimously emphasized the importance of cross-training. The idea is to perform multiple types of exercise so that muscles neglected in one type of activity will get worked in another type. So it’s been jazzercise one day and weight lifting the next, and combined with sensible nutrition, it’s been remarkably effective.
Feeling the need to put a similar focus and energy toward my writing, I perused this year’s Lit Fest offerings and signed up for Jake Adam York‘s craft seminar Prose Poems and Paragraphs. I’m a fiction writer, and one who has been extremely blocked at that for quite some time now. So why sign up for a poetry class? It’s hard to say exactly what possessed me, but I wanted to fall in love with the written word all over again, and I thought that poetry might be a good place to start. Let the cross-training begin.
To warm up, Jake talked about the prose poem as a form: its function, its structure. To keep our literary heart rates climbing, we read some examples and deconstructed them. Then came the real burning: constructing a prose poem as a group, each contributing a line as we went around the room. If this had been actual physical exercise, I would have been sweating. Hard. But by then we were in the zone, and it was time to do some writing on our own. I was warmed up, I was ready to go, and I went. I wrote a prose poem, and a pretty good one, I think, for someone who’s never written poetry before. To cool down, a few people shared their work with the group, and that was it. Our workoutshop was over and we went our separate ways.
And guess what? It worked. Flexing my poetic muscles helped re-awaken and support the core of my fiction writing. I feel inspired again. I feel like writing again. And all it took was a jog through some unfamiliar territory with a very competent guide. Need some inspiration of your own? Take a poetry class. Or a fiction class. Or a memoir class. Whatever is going to make your brain work in ways that it maybe hasn’t in a while. I promise you won’t be too sore the next day. And what of writerly nutrition? Well, there’s always our How to Feed a Writer fundraising event.