Milkweed Editions, May 2012.

Milkweed Editions, May 2012.

When I seek advice from poets about how they do it — and don’t we all? — there seems to be a nearly-sacred belief about how you have to clear your schedule so you can write.

I have found the opposite to be true: often, we don’t need nearly as much empty space in our lives as we think we do. In fact, the more time I have, the more time I have to ruminate, the more tasks expand to fill the time I have, and the less I feel compelled to do.

Over the years, I’ve found that I need to be in the world to fill my artistic well, and to push against the world to do my best creative work. Two of the best things that have happened to my poetry have been a full-time job and a child, and yes, I do mean both at the same time.

Here’s what’s different, and often better, about writing these days:

1.     No dilly-dallying. I now have less time to write than I used to have to sit in a coffee shop with a girlfriend and complain about how I had no time to write. (I think I stole that line from an old issue of Utne Reader.) But when I sit down to write now, I write. No Facebook, no e-mail, no fridge, no letting a stack of student papers magically grow until it takes an entire day to grade them. It’s a race between me and my daughter, Anna, waking from her nap — and the bits of writing I do get done keep building over time. Read more…