Word count: 247 Reading time: 1 min.
As the local cherry petals drift to the ground, the rhododendrons are starting to open in a riotous display of spring colour. The other day I drove around a corner and a host of golden daffodils almost blinded me. My mistake: it was a thick carpet of dandelions.
Still it’s a season when the world seems bursting with life and new energy and I feel out of sync when my work isn’t infused with the same urgency. As usual, I turned to wiser people for help. Walter Benjamin said, “Never stop writing because you have run out of ideas. Fill the lacunae of inspiration by tidily copying out what is already written.”
I can’t find the full quote to determine whether he meant copy your own work or copy the work of masters of your craft. Some people I’ve spoken to disagree strongly with the idea of copying other people’s work; they suggested it might lead to plagiarism. On the other hand, William Hazlitt maintained that rules and models destroy genius and art.
Because I needed help, I made a decision and started copy-typing pages from Marge Piercy and Margaret Atwood. The sensation of such polished prose flowing off my fingertips invigorated me. I returned to my novel freshly inspired.
When ideas fail or your prose writhes flat and lifeless on the page, how do you encourage new growth? When you aspire to daffodils but dandelions keep invading your space, how do you get back on track?
Photo by: Andrey Prokurononv