Poem-a-Day Retrospective

Another April has come and gone, and so has the Poem-a-Day Challenge. This is the second year in a row that I have participated in Writer’s Digest‘s challenge, and for the second year in a row, I have succeeded in writing 30 poems in 30 days. Here and there I missed a day, but all misses were made up before the challenge ended.

The PAD challenge prompts the habit of daily writing. I find it much easier to complete this challenge than the November NaNoWriMo challenge; I am not sure why this is. With the NaNoWriMo challenge, you build on one idea, expanding and clarifying it. That would seem, on the face of it, easier than creating something entirely new each day. Yet, for me, it has not been. I have not successfully completed a NaNoWriMo, but the PAD challenge, I have accepted and met these past two years.

Each day facing a new prompt can be daunting. There were days when I mulled over the prompt all day, trying to get a handle on where to go with it. There were definitely days when I was not 100% happy with the resulting poem. Yet, there were days when I finished and was truly proud of my poem. Interestingly, my feelings about a particular poem were not always in line with its play on the blog (and Facebook). What I do know is that I will revisit these poems in the future. The habit of writing one a day and the necessity of publishing it to the blog (and the challenge site) immediately results in the occasional publishing of drafts. Some of these situations and ideas will be revisited.

Now the challenge is to keep the momentum of April moving forward. I may not, okay I will not, be able to sustain a poem a day for the rest of the year, but I need to keep the writing going. I do wonder how Emily Dickinson managed it. She wrote approximately 1,800 poems in her lifetime, some years averaging a poem a day for the whole year. That is an incredible output.

I don’t claim to be as insightful or prolific as Emily Dickinson, but I did find the process of writing poetry engendered more poetry writing. As the month moved on, I found my thinking stimulated, my creativity sparked. That doesn’t mean that some of the later poems weren’t difficult to get started  (or finished), but it does mean that my mind was ready to meet the challenge. I look forward to more writing of all types this year–and to the PAD challenge again next year. I hope you’ll join me!



Today on the way home, I began my blog on National Novel Writing Month, and without intending to, I was kind of trashing it. You see I had signed up for NaNoWriMo a few years ago, but, alas, I failed miserably at it. I found that not only wasn’t I magically inspired to write a novel just by signing up, but I also felt stunted in my other writing because I felt I was “cheating” on my novel writing by writing poetry, short stories, or non-fiction. And, of course, stunting one’s writing is NOT the point of NaNoWriMo. What I didn’t do was take advantage of the community of the website. What I did do was let “life” get too much in the way. And, looking at this November, I’m already feeling the load of “life” bearing down. What’s awful about that statement is that much of that “life” is good stuff–birthdays, Thanksgiving, time out with friends–but add to that essays, the end of a marking period, and Parent-Teacher Night, and “life” begins to really fill up. I need to reread my own post “Butt in Chair” and write.

So, what made me reconsider my quasi-negative NaNoWriMo post? My friend Linda posted to Facebook that she has started on her third NaNoWriMo and will keep us posted as to her word counts. Immediately I knew I couldn’t post what I had written. NaNoWriMo works for hundreds (thousands? millions?) of people. And I hadn’t meant knock it as much as it sounded. The tone just wasn’t right. Instead, I’ll applaud Linda’s efforts and redouble my own. Butt in Chair. Time to write. Tomorrow a friend is coming to stay a few days; I’m throwing a dinner party; the house is not clean yet; and, grades are due in a week, but I will find time to write. In fact, I’m doing it right now when I “should” be cleaning. Maybe, just maybe I’ll even sign up for NaNoWriMo again. Quite honestly, the only thing that really irks me about it is the acronym. It’s awful. It slows me down–when I type it; when I speak it, heck; even when I think it! You would think that a group dedicated to writing, to the beauty of language, to word play could come up with a better acronym.

What about you? Will you write that novel this month? Finish your book of poems? Complete a short story that’s been begging for revision? Or maybe this is your month to send things out. Let’s call it NCM—National Creativity Month–and get down to the business of art.