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Isolated and Inspired? How to Start Writing Poetry During the Pandemic

A photo of Floco Torres
Akron rapper and producer Floco Torres urges new writers to keep things simple.

Being cooped up inside during this pandemic makes it's easy to get cabin fever. You could be getting the itch to get more creative. Maybe you want to try writing poetry or lyrics. But where do you start? We reached out to Akron rapper and producer Floco Torres to get some advice on how to channel your thoughts into something with a beat.

Just like you, Floco Torres is stuck at home.

He's still putting in 10-12 hours each workday, whether it's with The Devil Strip, graphic design or working on his music. Those hours aren't unusual for him.

"I'm constantly working on something."  

But he is missing the little breaks in the day that most of us didn't even know we needed until it was too late. There's no commute, no popping out for lunch, no patio beers with friends as the weather gets warmer.

"I think I’m taking more time to myself than I normally do. So hopefully that carries over."

He's digging into his thoughts. That fear, anger and frustration many of us are seeing bubble up during this pandemic.

Look in the mirror
But how do you channel that into something creative?

Torres said you've got to get brutally honest with yourself. "About whatever the topic, whatever the situation is. From the music down to every syllable."

For beginners Torres said keeping a simple journal is the best place to start. Write down what you’re feeling in whichever way it comes out of your brain.

"That was how writing started for me in my life."

It could be something you read in a book or liked about a movie. Maybe it's something shared with a loved one.

"Just kind of keeping those things and revisiting them. Getting used to the idea of looking at your thoughts or looking at things that you thought were interesting. From wherever it came from."

If it makes you feel something, write it down, no matter how random it seems.

"It’s like illustrating. If you’re just sketching something or drawing because you’re bored, you’re just going to do what comes to mind."

a photo of Floco Torres
Floco Torres

Keep things simple
If you want to let your creativity run wild, don't go in with the idea that a finished product is going to come out the other side like magic.

"I definitely wouldn't suggest trying to sit down and be like 'I'm going to start writing poetry or writing songs.' That pressure puts you in a box."

It could be as little as writing down a word or sentence each day. Torres suggests trying that for a week and looking for what stands out. What makes you laugh or cringe or cry?

"Whatever emotion moves you once you find that theme, then start going in that direction."

Terrified of the idea of anyone else reading what you’ve written? Don't be, nobody else has to see it. Don't feel like you need to share anything on Instagram or even tell your significant other.

"Wherever you write this, wherever you store this, no one will ever see this unless you grant them access."

In the moment
"Right now, I’m feeling it is absolutely a first world problem that I am sick of being in the house."

But instead of comparing it to World War II or another crisis, Torres thinks we should realize that the COVID-19 pandemic is unique to today's world.

"So it’s also valid that I don’t want to be in the house, because our entire thing is made of being out and being mobile and doing whatever the hell you want."

Nothing about this pandemic is normal.

"I would start having this internal monologue with how I’m feeling and then move through that process."

Then maybe take the time to enjoy what you've written, no matter if anyone else ever sees it.