As a teacher of writing classes and someone who occasionally needs a nudge in the right direction from my inner voices, I like to use what I call "openers." These are little exercises to get me to leap into the spaces I haven't filled, to trust the urge to experiment and play with words.
Here's one of my favourites. I call it "Thunder and sunshine."
Find a poem or passage filled with fragrant words -- words that hit the olfactory nerve and go straight to the brain stem. You don't need to be able to interpret the passage or poem -- you just need to connect with the words. Two poems that have worked well are "Ulysses" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and "The Second Coming" by William Yeats.
This works best if someone else reads it out loud, but you can skim it yourself as well.
Go over the poem twice, and listen (or read) for the sound and taste of the words, not the meaning of the poem. When a word or phrase hits your senses, scribble it down. I like to use pencil and paper for this, because it's a tactile, sensual activity, but if your preference is a keyboard, go for it. You should aim for about 15-20 words or short phrases.
Once you've finished the second reading, go over your list. Choose the ten juiciest words. Mess around with them -- put them in random order, alphabetical order, size order -- anything that mixes it up. Gradually allow an order to come to the words and incorporate them into a poem or a paragraph of your own.
You may be surprised what emerges from your hungry heart, what slouches towards you to be born.
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