What I love about poetry is that it breaks the boundaries of language. In poetry anything goes, and that’s exciting for the creative process.
That’s why I was thrilled to interview poet and writer Samantha Reynolds for our monthly series. I only recently discovered Reynolds’s popular poetry blog, www.bentlily.com, but it’s already become an important inspiration for me.1
It has inspired me to write poetry again, and sharpened how I see the world, paying attention to the smallest details, finding beauty in the smallest of things. And I bet her poetry will inspire you, too.
Only a year ago, in 2011, Reynolds pledged to write one poem a day to try to “be present” and not miss the fleeting first year of her son’s life. Now she wouldn’t know how to stop even if she wanted to. Bentlily has sparked a movement of people around the world to slow down and savor their lives.
When not racking up reams of poetry, Reynolds runs Echo Memoirs, a publishing company specializing in personal memoirs and company histories. She lives in Vancouver, BC, with two of the loveliest men in the world.
1. Do you incorporate creativity-boosting activities into your daily routine? If so, what activities do you do?
I walk around the lake outside our house. The fresh air is a remarkably effective weapon to slay the stuckness.
2. What are your inspirations for your work?
I am inspired by every person – artist or not – who is brave enough to speak with an authentic voice. It is tempting in this world to say what people want to hear and I am as vulnerable as anyone to this people-pleasing urge.
My poetry is the loosest I’ve ever felt, letting the ideas and words flow without concern for how or where they will land.
I draw inspiration on this path from unlikely people every day – taxi drivers, 8-year-olds, activists – all releasing the clarity and power of uncensored reflections on their lives. In their own motley ways, they are my creative heroes.
3. There are many culprits that can crush creativity, such as distractions, self-doubt and fear of failure. What tends to stand in the way of your creativity?
I have to manage my addiction to checking my email, blog, Facebook and Twitter accounts. If I don’t rein myself in, by the time I go to write my daily poem, I feel numb from navigating those online worlds.
4. How do you overcome these obstacles?
I have to leave my computer, do something different – wash dishes, go for a walk, read a book – and wait patiently until the juiciness returns.
5. What are some of your favorite resources on creativity?
6. What is your favorite way to get your creative juices flowing?
I always write at the very end of the night. There is something about the imposed deadline of imminent sleep that cuts through the deliberation of writing and forces me to commit.
If I am really stuck, I open the thesaurus, pick a word, and start writing whatever comes to mind around that word. By using a word I wouldn’t have picked myself, it’s like a magnet for other thoughts I didn’t know were dormant inside me.
7. What’s your advice for readers on cultivating creativity?
Do one creative thing every day, no matter how small. Doodle a face. Write one taut and gorgeous sentence. Play guitar for 10 minutes. Make it a daily habit that is easy to accomplish so that even if you are tired and burned out, you can still do it, like brushing your teeth.
You will find that after two weeks, you have a new muscle, and you won’t have to discipline yourself to be creative…it will simply be part of you, like breath.
8. Anything else you’d like readers to know about creativity?
Creativity is the act of interpreting the world with your art. Your output is exciting but just as meaningful is the journey, and the enduring sweetness of slowing down and savoring your life. Being creative means cherishing your days, being present, hungry for those illuminated moments that erupt with a life of their own, insisting you share them with the world.