Jane Hirshfield on not writing

“Any time I’m not writing (which of course means most of the time) finding my way to a new poem feels entirely impossible. There have been many times in my life when I’ve gone months without writing. This happens frequently enough that I’ve come to think of them as necessary fallows, from which I often emerge with an altered set of poetic energies.”
– Jane Hirshfield, MiPoesias interview (2005)

9 thoughts on “Jane Hirshfield on not writing

  1. Regina

    Hm, an interesting quote. I never find myself not writing-! I write something every day. But I wonder… can one write too much? Should I be burned out from writing something every day. At first, it was a discipline- I must write- but now, if I don’t write, I feel, well, funny…
    Are there times when a writer needs to take a break from all writing, allow the fallows to set in…?
    Thanks, Michelle- some food for thought here.

  2. Julie

    The creative process fascinates me. It’s such an individual thing. I have down periods, but I’ve never gone for months without writing something (even if it’s bad).

    I imagine Jane Hirshfield is writing subconsciously during those down times, because when she produces, it’s excellent. I like what she says about emerging from the fallows with an altered set of poetic energies.

    Thanks for another interesting quote, Michelle. I’ll see you next week (I’m off for a bit). I hope your week is a beautiful one:)

  3. Pat Galvin

    Michelle, nice quote. I believe that ideas and inspiration are like a constant shower. Each one like a shooting star, if you blink you miss it. We should always stand out in these showers. Never seek shelter in a shop doorway
    or bus shelter, never wait until the rain passes.

  4. Keith S. Wilson

    I also write every single day, and I have only just begun to wonder if ‘recharging’ is necessary. I suppose I will only feel this if I begin to notice my poetry continuously sucks. Otherwise, it’s on with the daily writing.

  5. jo

    I need this right now. I haven’t written a thing for about 3 weeks and funnily enough I’d thought of the word fallow the other day. Never mind, next week I’m back at it, for today I’m just reading.

  6. ekswitaj

    I guess my equivalent to not writing is writing on a different project. When I temporarily shelve on style or subject, it incubates, while other energies play on the page.

  7. christine

    When I’m not writing I feel like my lover has gone away without me. Even if I’m not writing poetry, I journal. Rants, kvetching, whining, it all goes down in my spiral. Even if I want to burn it later. But it’s good to give yourself permission just to be.

  8. zoe858

    When I’m not writing I know I’m just absorbing new material and when I’m ready to write. The words just flow from my mind to my fingers 🙂

  9. Antony Kamau

    I went for nearly five years without writing until I joined a friend in a Poetry blog. I have no idea what happened but my writing changed so much I didn’t recognize it anymore (Was way better).

    I should thank my friend for telling me how stupid I was for stopping to write.

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