Midnight musings from a writer's journal by Joy Lenton

It's dead of night. My body is resting but thoughts circle like restless birds. Trying not to leak black ink onto whiteness of pillow, I scribble in a notepad, needing to put pen to paper.

Here's what emerged in the midnight hours...

"Words have been rather stilled of late. Once they ran so freely I could scarce keep pace with them. Strangely, poetry often flows more easily than prose when I'm extra fatigued. It makes me wonder if we can only focus on one facet at a time: Storytelling, fiction writing, memoir, articles, functional narrative, or poetry in all its various guises.

I cannot always cajole poetry. She's capricious, wilful, shy. Her alchemy fails when I push too hard, strain for a rhyme or press to combine this word or that into magic potions of my own devising. 

When I simply let her alone, ignore my desire to pen the poetic, then she returns. Quietly at first. A line or two to get me started. A word that lingers like honey on the tongue. Eventually my poetic Muse (Holy Spirit) yields a few phrases and allows me space to create. Instead of dredging for pearls, I find they flit through my fingers, scatter their largesse. 

Instead of sitting with the sludge of frustration and settling into despondency, poetry's entry turns me into a deft weaver of words, spinner of rhythm and rhyme, with a sweeter expression than before.

She teaches me patience and the power of concentration mixed with creative imagination. Poetry reaches into my heart to prise apart soul feelings, stir the melting pot of emotions into a semblance of sensibility, which others can relate to.

In those times when we are together companionably, I am grateful for poetry's presence. When she departs briefly (or maybe for weeks), then I seek solace in writing of another kind.

Because I need to let loose. I cannot stop simply because poetry has temporarily pulled the plug on me. Allowing calm to come and refusing anxiety admittance will aid me to stay alert for her return. And when she arrives? I feign a little insouciance. But inside? I could cry with relief. Life is less than it can be when I'm missing poetry."

In order to keep the creative juices flowing in drier seasons I still try to write something each day—maybe a few words in a journal, a line or two that doesn't go anywhere yet, a poem that stalls but might be recoverable later on. 

Several notepads sit around the house, because I'm open to inspiration arriving at any time and in numerous ways. Thankfully, God knows just how and when we need to receive it!

A little bit each day

I write a little bit each day
because life's rhythm pulses
through my veinsaching to be birthed
in poetryand words find a way
to crawl slow upon the page
beating the blues, weaving through
my weariness and pain, until
they start to sing freely again

Sleep is always preferable to being woken with words buzzing in our heads, but I'm learning to listen to the small snatches that come my way and to be grateful for them. I'm also trying new things such as found/magnetic poetry and flash fiction, plus reading fiction—alongside my usual fare of memoir, Christian living and poetry booksfor future inspiration.

How about you—have you tried a new style or genre lately?
What helps you to remain creative? 

PS: If you can identify with writing/poetry being challenging, you may also like to read more here about scrambling for words and how God inspires us anew.

Joy Lenton is a grateful grace dweller, contemplative Christian writer, poet and blogger, author of 'Seeking Solace: Discovering grace in life's hard places'

She enjoys encouraging others on their journey of life and faith at her blogs wordsofjoy.me and poetryjoy.com as she seeks to discover the poetic in the prosaic and the eternal in the temporal. You can connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook.


  1. Wonderful post, Joy, and I love your poem! Blessings to you dear sister! xo

    1. How sweet of you to follow me over here, Gayl! Thank you for your kind encouragement. I'm so pleased my fellow sister-poet found something she enjoyed reading! Blessings to you, dear friend. xo

  2. Oh, how wonderful to see (and read) you here, too! Thanks especially for these generous thoughts from your life and art. "And when she arrives? I feign a little insouciance. But inside? I could cry with relief. Life is less than it can be when I'm missing poetry."

    1. Hello Laurie, thank you so much for popping over to read this post! I'm glad those words resonated with you, dear poet friend, because I know you sympathise with times when poetry can be harder to cajole. The creative life does seem to lose its lustre when poetry is being a bit capricious. xo

  3. That resonates with me, Joy. I have to be open to write poetry. And to try different types of writing. Sue

    1. Sue, I think you've hit on a key concept for writing poetry, if not writing in general. It certainly helps to maintain an open mind, open heart and receptive attitude, especially when it come to being inspired. I've certainly benefited from trying different styles and types of writing, though I doubt a novel will come from my hands - but won't rule it out! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Have fun experimenting. xo

  4. Dear Joy,
    I am always so moved and inspired by your words! Your honest expression captivates me and draws me into the truth of God's heart for us. Oh, what an amazing gift that our Lord would give us through His Holy Spirit, the true muse to bring out God's creativity planted inside each one of us. May I open my heart to be willing to let Him mine the depths of my heart also! Blessings! xoxo

    1. Dear Bettie, your words are truly humbling. God writes on our hearts and gives us the enormous privilege of sharing His inspired thoughts with others. Ever since I have been writing publicly He has called me to be open and transparent about the journey I am on.
      Yes, creativity is deep seated inside all of us, though it finds myriad means of expression. It is an amazing gift of grace! I believe your heart is more open than you know, lovely friend. It pours forth into beautiful blog posts and sweet encouraging comments like this. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. Blessings and hug to you! xoxo

  5. Beautifully put, Joy. A poetic piece of writing in itself

    1. Thank you, Wendy. I seem to write poetry best when half asleep. Just as well when it's my default mode most days! Maybe we're more receptive to inspiration during times of switching off? x

  6. Replies
    1. Thanks, Mandy, I appreciate you reading and commenting here! x

  7. A really lovely well written blog - I love the way you personify poetry.

    1. Thank you, Nick! Poetry feels like a close friend to me—at least most of the time—so I tend to write about her that way. And I'm grateful to poetry for the way she allows me to express myself. I'm guessing you might like to read and write poetry yourself, perhaps?


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