Attending Literature Readings Matter

by T.A. Stanley

While my last post was about claiming the title “writer,” I do have to admit that I’ve been suffering from a rather long stint of writer’s block. In other words, I have not been writing very much at all. I write here and there. Jot things down and never return to give them my full attention. Obviously, this is a common thing that happens and everybody has his or her own remedy. There’s whole books on it for god’s sake. I’m not going to say a bunch of stuff that everyone already knows. I’m just going to talk about one thing that I realized the other night after attending a lovely poetry reading.
Attending readings and open mics is one of the most inspirational motivators to get me to put pen to paper and I would argue that this is true for many people.
I get so consumed with being alone when I write. I read and read and stare at blank pages in my journal, looking for something inside me to spill out. Instead, I just get frustrated and read more or watch Netflix. Sometimes I won’t even let myself go out because I didn’t do the writing I had set out to do that day.
When I stop punishing myself for not writing and I decide to go to a poetry reading or an open mic or a book launch, I always end up writing in my journal on the way home. Sometimes I even pull it out in the middle of the reading to jot down a stray thought. I think there are lots of reasons for this. Firstly, it’s important to forget about your own writing for a while. Secondly, it’s also important to be out in a community of writers who are sharing their work with other writers and readers. I think just the energy of this can help knock a few things loose in your brain — get ideas to settle down and want to come out for a change.
Most importantly, I think hearing writers read their own work aloud can be engaging and empowering beyond reading it for yourself. This is especially true with poetry. I find myself getting lost in just the voice — sometimes, even if I don’t know exactly what it “means,” I can hear what the poet wants you to feel in their tone, rhythm, movement. It doesn’t even have to be good. Focusing on these aspects of performance in the reading is something you don’t get simply by reading someone else’s work. I find myself focusing so much on craft when I read, that I almost forget the art. Hearing it come to life through the writer herself I can hear the art. I can see it. Which in turn always ends up inspiring me to create art where I had previously felt my passion for it draining.
So, for anyone feeling uninspired or in a rut of not writing I would encourage you to find a reading or open mic in your area. In listening to everyone share and speak their truth, you may just find yours.

Originally published at

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