I have been trying to observe my writing habits this week. I already know that I write much more if I write my morning pages regularly but this week I have also noticed that a catalyst to writing (or a change to writing style) can be a change of notebook.
Earlier on this year I went to a poetry workshop at Writers' Centre Norwich with John Mcauliffe and he talked about how his poetry writing was affected by the size of notebook he chose to write in. He said that he had started taking a bigger notebook out with him so that his writing was less limited and had longer lines. I had never really paid attention to this before and have experimented with varying the size of book I take out - although for convenience I do normally end up with quite a small one.
What I noticed this week, however, was that my writing became more sparky when I started writing in a new notebook. I always have several notebooks on the go - my writing is messy I guess, a bit like me, I generally have a large notebook (A4) that I use for morning pages and writing at home and one or two smaller ones that I carry around for writing in when I am out. I also try and buy notebooks that are quite attractive - it seems to help my creative process somehow to have an inspiring notebook, so it's great when I get given them as presents - they may stay on a shelf for ages but I always use them eventually. This week I noticed a book that had been sitting unused on my piano for quite some time, it had been given to me as a present over a year ago and for some reason the time had never been right to use it. Yesterday, however, I picked it up and opened it and the ideas just started to flow. It was a little like having a change of scene but without having to go anywhere.
The other thing that is nearly always guaranteed to trigger writing for me if I am feeling creatively constipated is reading. If you don't read other poets you can't be a good poet yourself - I really believe it as simple as that! It would be a bit like trying to create art without ever having seen any art or knowing what art is. For me it is a vital part of the creative process. I do, like anyone else, have those times where I try to read book after book and nothing inspires me and in those times I usually turn to the few favouritess that I go back to again and again. I have a whole host of favourite poetry books, but there seem to certain ones that galvanise me into wanting to write more than others - I'm not sure why those books in particular - it must be something about the voice or the writing style. Two such books are Budapest to Babel by Agnes Lehoczky and Like Something Flying Backwards by C.D. Wright.