Art / Creativity / Ideas / Writing / June 8, 2012

Billy Collins and the Creative Process

Yesterday I listened to a podcast of the  TED Radio Hour. It was an episode called  “The Creative Process”. The first 12-15 minutes are an interview with Billy Collins, former poet laureate of the United States, and, especially for writers, they are powerfully delicious and wonderful.

Image via Arizona Public Media –
In this piece, Collins had several quotable and powerful points. This was my favorite. It is a portion of the interview where the interviewer asks Collins about struggling to write, “writer’s block” in short.

STEWART: Billy, what do you do on those days when it just doesn’t come to you?

COLLINS: Oh, the – poets do the thing – we’d go to the dry cleaner. I mean, the usual stuff. Well, I wait. I mean, I – there’s this term, writer’s block. I – I don’t believe in it. I don’t like to even hear the term. I mean, you can’t be writing constantly because you’d be insane. So there must be periods of non-writing.

And then it’s just a matter of how do you view them? And I just view them as I’m – I’m waiting. Waiting for something to come along. And I think that’s a kind of healthy way, rather than thinking I’m not writing. That means I’ll never write. [Emphasis Mine]

I love this thinking. It is freeing. It removes a burden. Oh, and it’s true. Waiting is the answer to that thing we call “writer’s block.” Just wait, read, watch, listen, relax, and ease up for a bit. It’ll come to you. And your writing will be better for it. (The only trouble is when you’re writing on a deadline.)

Listen to the whole interview or read the transcript HERE. He offers some wonderful, insightful thoughts for creatives of all sorts, but especially writers.


Jun 08, 2012

Thanks for letting us know about this interview with Billy Collins. I’ve read some of his poems that came about as he actively read entries in an encyclopedia! But, yes, waiting often brings poems from a deep place that surfaces with a measure of music I write down then listen, listen to the poem.

Jun 09, 2012

Definitely an encouraging way to look at it. Sometimes you’re cooking. Sometimes you’re gathering ingredients.

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