A Poem A Day In April

For the longest time I would respond to the question “What do you write?” with “Pretty much anything you’ll pay me to write…except poetry.”

It’s not that I don’t like poetry.

And it’s not that I can’t write poems.

It’s that I am not particularly drawn to write poems and I have never worked on my skills in that area.

I am much more comfortable in other forms or word work and I haven’t felt the need to dig into poetry.

And, of course, given how my brain works, I was forgetting that poets work in drafts the same as every other writer…the same as any other creative person.

Then, recently, I received Sage Cohen’s newsletter in which she mentioned her book Write a Poem a Day: 30 Prompts to Unleash Your Imagination and I was intrigued.

Could I write a poem every day for 30 days?

Well, if I didn’t worry about writing a *good* poem, I probably could.

And since lots of people write a poem a day in April (it’s poetry month!), it seemed like a good time to give it a whirl.

I didn’t officially join a challenge or anything, I just decided to putter along with it by myself.

And the first two days have been really interesting.

As I mentioned above, I had previously forgotten that poets wouldn’t just be able to create a perfect poem on the first try but I had come to realize that poets do drafts just like anyone else.

However, I hadn’t really thought about what that would mean from a ‘getting down to work’ standpoint.

I mean, when I need to write prose, I have long since abandoned the idea that I need to be inspired…

Wait, that’s not completely true.

My conscious mind has abandoned that idea but it still floats around my subconscious and keeps me from getting started sometimes. It’s only when I actually turn my conscious attention to a slow-starting project that I realize I have been waiting for inspiration.

In fact, ‘Are you waiting for inspiration?’ is the first thing on my list of check-in questions for when I am feeling stalled.

I am a professional writer. I know that inspiration often only kicks into gear once you are already writing.*

But, I guess, unconsciously, I saw poetry as something different, something a little more inspiration-fuelled.

However, on Saturday, April 1, when I read Sage Cohen’s prompt for day 1 and sat down with my notebook, I wasn’t inspired but I was determined.

So I did the same thing I do at the beginning of any writing project, I started putting words on paper,

And then I rearranged those words.

And then I added some more.

Took some away.

And then I had a poem.

Not a great but a decent one. Definitely one that I could shape into something better if I worked on it a bit more.

It was a really cool realization.

The process was the same. I could use the exact same skills and produce something entirely different.

Now, I’m not saying that two days of poems makes me a poet. And poetry commissions won’t be a thing.

But it has been amazing to realize that I can express ideas in poems by just sitting down and working at them.

I don’t need to know anything else.

I don’t need to build my skills first.

I can just keep moving words around until they end up in the right places.

And it’s fun.

*Yes, sometimes it shows up first and I am drawn to the page but mostly I decided to start writing and the act of getting started pulls inspiration to me.

May 1: Low Key

I want a lot out of this month but I am trying to teach myself to add things slowly instead of trying to do everything all at once.

After all, I know that successful changes, new practices, come from starting small and building up.


I also know that jumping right into a bunch of new practices all at once feels good. I feel engaged and energetic and accomplished…until I run out of steam.

And despite the fact that I run out of steam EVERY SINGLE TIME, my brain still wants to chase that excited feeling of doing ALL OF THE THINGS.

Without the benefits of medication and experience, I would be planning to do more art, more writing, more exercise, more Taekwon-do, more house organizing, more everything all at once, starting right now, maybe half an hour of each, on top of what I already do each day.

It would be fun today but by the end of the week, I would be out of steam.

So, instead, I am layering all of those things into my life during May.

I will ‘touch’ each habit each day but only really focus on one at a time.

Let’s see how it goes.

?a view of a backyard patio with bare trees in the background
My patio and trees are on the same plan that I am – the basics in place but we’ll add new things a little at a time and let them grow. Image description: The view from one corner of my patio. A lawn chair is directly across from me and beyond that there are trees that don’t have any leaves on them next to my red shed.

30 Days of Posts!

My goal with this blog in June was to post every day, completely avoiding any expectations of writing ‘well’ or being insightful.

I just wanted to write daily.

And I’ve done it!

Gold star for me! ??

I definitely wasn’t insightful and some posts barely had enough text to count as a post but I was consistent and put *something* up every day.

And that makes me really happy!

I struggle with consistency so this is a real victory.

I’m going to keep posting in July but I’m going to plan things out a little more and not just hope that something postable floats into my consciousness.

I don’t think anyone has been reading this month but, just in case, thank you for spending a little time with me words.

See you tomorrow!

A GIF of a person in a dress waving two balloons, one is a 3 and one is a 0.
Image description: A GIF of a person in a dress stands on a road with field and a lake behind her. She is waving two balloons, one shaped like a 3 and one shaped like a 0.

120 days

I mean to get more things done.

But I don’t.

And I accept full responsibility for that.

It’s not that I don’t have enough time, nor that I have too much to do, nor that I don’t know what my priorities are.

I have lots of time, and while I have lots of things I *could* do, I know the things I HAVE to do, and I know what my priorities are.

Yet, I fritter. And not in the good way.

I want to write more (blog posts, fiction. articles, essays) but I just don’t – the weigh of things unwritten prevents me from writing anything new.

I want to exercise more, but the weight of choices of activity, and the possibility that I am not making the BEST choice, prevents me from sticking with my plan.

I want to establish more routines in our lives, but the weight of the choice of what to fix is so tiresome that I fix nothing.

I want to be active and pro-active, but the effort of figuring out where to start makes me go the reactive route almost every time.

I want, I want, I want.

But I can’t honestly say I am putting in the effort to give myself what I want.

Now, before you decide that a) I’m a whiner or 2) that I’m being too hard on myself, you should know that I actually do fairly well with my reactive, figure it out as we go along, system. And I can’t be that much of a whiner if I’m admitting that it’s my fault AND if I’m making a plan to make it better.

There are 120 days left in this year, and I turn 40 a little over halfway through those 120 days. I think it’s high time I start channelling my creative power and my energy into a laser beam instead of throwing it out in fits and starts like twinkly Christmas lights.

I’m not creating impossible goals for myself in this 120 days, I’m not committing to be perfectly fit, with a huge body of work, and a perfect family to show for my efforts.

I’m committing to dedicating this time, 120 days at the end of 2012, to finding my way. To finding systems that work for me. To learning how to keep myself consistent, and on track, at least most of the time.

I’m going to read, I’m going to write, I’m going to exercise, I’m going to practice, and I’m going to keep track. Not perfectly, maybe not every day, but I’m going to keep the trend toward consistency and progress, instead of wheel spinning.

To use a misquote of Aristotle (it’s more of a paraphrase by an author than anything Artistole said directly) that keeps popping up everywhere – ‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.’

And I am going to learn some excellent habits.

Starting today.