This post shares a few reflective poetry prompts (along with my poetic answers) from recent one-day writing retreats.
For context, I’ve been facilitating one-day, online writing retreats for a few years now. I love the retreat space not only for supportive writing community and dedicated writing time, but especially for reflection. Throughout the day, reflection happens through guided meditation, freewriting prompts, and group conversation. To close each retreat, I offer a short prompt based on the theme of the day—always a question that we might keep sitting with beyond our time together.
Responses to the reflective prompts certainly don’t need to be written in poetic form. However, I often write mine in free verse. I find that it’s fun to allow some time and space for poetry play.
It’s rare that I make time and space to reflect on my writing outside of structured containers like writing retreats. Yet, it buoys me as a writer to reflect on my writing process, to consider my identity as a writer, and to express gratitude for writing and all that it teaches me.
This is surely because of the power of contemplative writing. As I’ve shared in the past post “What Is Contemplative Writing?” there are numerous reasons to slow down and reflect with/through writing:
These include cultivating greater intentionality and awareness through writing; setting intentions and managing expectations; reflecting and being more attentive; noticing where we operate on auto-pilot and breaking auto-pilot patterns.”
When it comes to writing, there are a lot of autopilot patterns—emotions, thoughts, actions—that I want to break!
If you, too, want to dedicate time and space for contemplative writing—and for reflecting and potentially revising how you approach writing—then you might try the reflective poetry prompts I share below. For each, I list the prompt followed by my response. These poems are ways of speaking with/to both myself and my writing.
5 Prompts for Writing Poems to Ourselves and Our Writing
1. I breathe with my writing by …
I breathe with my writing by noticing the catch.
Sometimes deeper, sometimes shallow.
And I smile.
I breathe in.
I breathe out.
I write now.
I write then.
I write next.
I breathe with my writing by allowing ebb-and-flow.
Sometimes incoming, sometimes outgoing.
And I release.
I release expectations and
Time pressure and
The self-talk that holds me back.
I release past versions of how I’d work
For hours in a row
Through back, neck, and wrist pain.
I release disciplining that says
Writing should look like THIS
And only THIS.
On each out-breath, I release.
On each in-breath, I begin again.
I welcome the breath, the cycle, the in-and-out.
I begin and end. I start and stop.
I linger in the process, grounding in the writing—with the breath as guide.
2. Inside my writing, I find …
Inside my writing, I find:
- the quieter voice: the one that only emerges when I stop moving-thinking-doing and settle enough to listen
- the curious self: the one who longs to break from the-way-things-are and to imagine what might be
- the inner child: the one who jumps and plays and dances and moves freely and then curls up, ready for a story and hug and naptime, too
3. A beginner’s mind invites me to …
And open myself to not-knowing
Build trust in myself as a writer by coming back
Pausing, resting, and returning
Following through on my commitment to write (generally)
And on my commitment to this project (specifically).
These two hopeful words.
An affirmation that beginning is always here for me,
Available as an offering, an opening.
4. I cozy up with my writing by …
I cozy up with my writing, which holds me in a hug.
It’s always there for me, waiting for me to return.
Sometimes, it’s wondering where I am and why I’ve been away for days.
Sometimes, it’s rearing to go and jumping off the page.
Sometimes, it settles and asks me to slow down and be present.
I cozy up with my writing, who befriends me as a co-learner, co-creator, co-conspirator.
“What are we shaking up/off?” the writing asks …
“How are we making waves?” it wonders …
“What do we need to whisper? Then shout?”
I recognize our companionship and ask, in return:
How am I showing up in this relationship?
Am I acting on what the writing teaches me?
Am I doing my part?
5. I am a writer when …
I am a writer.
Beyond Reflective Poetry Prompts: An Invitation to Writing Retreats
How often do we, as writers, slow down to reflect on our writing processes and practices? Our desires and longings? Our sense of ourselves as writers?
I notice that prompts like these—as part of writing retreats—provide me with time and space for reflection. And reflection builds compassion for my past writing self, for my present self who is always beginning again, and for the future self I’m writing toward.
If you feel so called, please know you are invited to join an upcoming writing retreat.
Reach out with any questions.
Reach out anytime you’d like to connect around writing.
And many good wishes with dedicating time and space for reflecting on writing itself—whether through reflective poetry prompts, writing retreats, or other means.
This post is written by Beth Godbee, Ph.D. for Heart-Head-Hands.com. Subscribe to the newsletter for upcoming announcements. These announcements include:
- Next Writing Retreat: Wednesday 3/22
- Reminder: Custom Subscription Options
- Related Blog Posts:
“Contemplative Writing: Journaling and Other Practices for Reflection, Mindfulness, and Intentionality”
“What Is Contemplative Writing? A Definition and Guided Meditation for Writers”
“Walking Meditation for Writers: A Contemplative Writing and Walking Practice”
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