If I have to push my mind to go in a certain direction that is not intuitive, it can no longer imagine freely. It's more like a committee throwing out ideas for a whiteboard marketing strategy.
People interested in putting together a very restricted canon of great books don't really like reading; true readers, among whom I have the impertinence to include myself, are always sniffing out more and more titles. Reading is a hobby that never grows stale--and an unpunished vice.
I look at every detail of rooms I imagine. If it is not there, I conjure it up. I inhabit the room and experience the noises, smells, and personal details. I work toward emotional verisimilitude in all the details of experience -- the way it happened, even though this is something that in reality has never happened.
Even work you consider to be your worst is good for something. Every effort teaches you about your desires and tendencies, or guides you toward some new possibility, or shuts the door on an avenue you mistakenly thought was the right one. It’s a trial and error game, and every line you write – especially those that never make it to the printed page – has value.
I suspect that any vital creative process somehow involves arranging things so that intuition is given pride of place. The individual writer's "craft" might be understood, then, as the process of conspiring to work oneself into the necessary state of mystification, such that one is deferring to the innate energy of the story, rather than overriding it.
What poetry is made of is so old, so familiar, that it’s easy to forget that it’s not just the words, but polyrhythmic sounds, speech in its first endeavors (every poem breaks a silence that had to be overcome), prismatic meanings lit by each others’ light, stained by each others’ shadows. In the wash of poetry the old, beaten, worn stones of language take on colors that disappear when you sieve them up out of the streambed and try to sort them out.