Keeping Creative While You Are in a Slump

Creative Writing student, Sophie is back with a second poetry prompt blog! If you missed the first one have a read here

By Sophie Hall, 1st Year Creative Writing NTU Student

This months blog comes with a heavy dose of irony. Having intended to write this weeks ago but a looming dissertation and a mental health slump of my own have kept me from doing what I love most. The irony is even heavier when my degree is in creative writing. Earlier this month I got stuck in thoughts of imposter syndrome. Thinking everything I’d ever written was terrible and I had no change of completing my final year. So how could I ever write a blog advising others on writing for mental health?

But even out of bad patches can come useful inspiration – how do we stay creative when we feel terrible? When it is most important to keep practicing forms of self-care and hobbies we enjoy they are often the first thing to go. Struck off our endless to do lists in place of more studying often to be replaced instead by stress and staring at the ceiling. Just me? One of the most helpful tips I have ever received is working to a timer. When a task feels impossible try doing ten minutes then you either feel encouraged to carry on or you’ve done ten minutes that you thought you couldn’t do. However the past few weeks even this felt impossible to do.

So back to the drawing board for blog prompts I went. Then I remembered a poet I studied last year Ted Berrigan who’s most famous collection ‘The Sonnet’s’ consisted of poems that utilised the collage technique. This is when you steal take quotes from other sources and piece them together to make something new – think of a poetry mood board. Now Berrigan used quotes from his own poems but upon writing this I needed something a little more basic. I started to gather my favourite lines of poetry, some I had written and some from other authors. Then I got a little more experimental taking quotes from descriptions written on lush products also brought in attempt at self- care, lines from a language textbook I had and quotes from a tarot card guide.

I found this to be a interesting mesh of poetic lines and things that are not and arguably shouldn’t be poetic. This process really helped me out of my slump as I formed a collection of notes that on some level reflect myself. A jigsaw of what I liked, studied and weird bath products I own. An extra step you can add to really bring the collage vibes is writing these quotes on cut up pieces together. Then you can piece the poem together by seeing what quotes you like next to each other.

It might sound impossible to make something cohesive but I really enjoyed the challenge. I have included my not so great attempt for inspiration.

The Falsest Mouth  

Dear Love, 

Who fails to read. Go and come back. 

Eagerly sought: Good manners and a kindly countenance.

I was sitting youth away,

                   I suppose I can call it a date. 

There is an illness to come but it is meant to be.

Love is a sickness

                   and my most kindly nurse. 

My thanks are here, to those who have helped me 

with my permission – for pains generously given and 

eagerly sort.   

                                               Can you guess which lines are stolen from shampoo bottles? Happy crafting!

Here at NTU we have a reading, writing and pleasure programme called WRAP. They run regular writing workshops, book groups and much more. Head over to to find out more.

For help, advice and resources whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.

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