Find your inspiration in other artists

Have you ever written a poem inspired by a painting? Or made a sculpture that was an homage to an author? Interdisciplinary collaboration can be a lot of fun, even when you don't know the other artist.

In 2014, when I was a Jack Straw writer for the year, I got blindly matched with musician Tom Rorem. His assignment?  To write a song based on my memoir. 

Flash forward to this past October, Tom and his band Lowlands performed the song "Disinherited" live at the Tractor Tavern in Seattle. Listening to Tom's song—with lyrics that he wrote—reminded me how fruitful it can be to use other art forms to prompt new work.

It was also thrilling for me, the writer, to sit in the audience and hear this band play a song with echoes of my story but that was totally their own. 

You don't need to be in a formal program to collaborate. Visit an art museum and find a painting to inspire a chapter. Go to a poetry slam and sketch in your notebook. Use other art as a doorway into your own best work. 

Tom Rorem performs his song "Disinherited" inspired by a story in my memoir.