Be Boring

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Picture of taxes, saltines, files, and a boiled egg.

One of the challenges of the blank page is the pressure to be beautiful or startling or profound or a number of other lofty and tiresome adjectives. Why not take off some of that pressure by exploring the opposite? How boring can you make your writing? Or to be less subjective: how mundane or dry? What exactly makes something boring?

Make note of mundane objects around you or write some lines about things that you would usually find dull. Challenge yourself to be as uninteresting as possible. After writing a number of lines, your mind might begin to squirm and grow restless, with a growing urge to write something weird, funny, or exciting. Allow that pressure to build, then let some wildness slip through. Think of it like releasing a hawk into an insurance office. You might notice how much more profound and delightful the disruption is, given the ordinariness of what preceded it.

Alternately, you might just continue writing about mundane things and then realize that they really can be profound—especially if you pay close attention to them. And because poets don’t often think to use them in their writing, their presence can be fresh and startling. For example, we use printers to print our poems, but when was the last time you saw a printer in a poem?