I’ve never been one to walk up to someone and tell them I write poetry. Or even freely offer up something I’ve written. I’ve always believed that poetry comes from inspiration and inspiration can’t be forced, which sometimes lead to poems every day, once a week, once a month. After dropping out of my MFA program, I became worried that I wouldn’t write as much as I had been. That I would become stagnant. So, in order to make sure I kept writing, I challenged myself to write a poem every day during the month of December.
Some days it was extremely difficult to write and I found myself in bed almost asleep and then realizing that I hadn’t written. Some days I had inspiration. I had a reason to write. With all things like this, some of the poems turned out horribly and some of them turned out pretty well and I can make a good poem out of them. But, what I learned was that the quality nor the quantity actually mattered. What did matter was the journey through my written words.
After several days reflecting on the past month and reading my poems, here is what I learned:
Accountability really is important. I’m not gonna get all mushy and tell you that I couldn’t have done this without a partner. Did having someone doing this with me make it easier? Yes. I can’t reiterate that enough. But, it was more than that. When you have someone going through something with you, keeping you on track, experience similar things, then you are going to grow closer. But, you’ll probably argue some too. At times, you may want to separate yourself from that person. Put distance between you. And when you are exchanging something personal like poems, emotions get involved. Sometimes messy. Sometimes sentimental. But in the end, the experience is so much more rewarding when you go through it with someone.
Sometimes you just gotta push through the slush. If you are doing a challenge like I did, then you are probably going to have several days in a row where what you are creating is horrible. You’ll become disenchanted with it. I know that a few times during all of this, I just wanted to stop. To give up. I would convince myself that I couldn’t actually write. I’ve written bad poems before (lots, actually), but when it’s two, three, four, or five days in a row of nothing good it becomes heavy. It’s incredibly important to push through that. Not only to finish, but to find something good. Because when you make the effort to focus and produce/create/make something good, it makes all the bad worth it.
Writer’s block isn’t real. I’ve heard professors and writers both say that writers block isn’t real. But when you are a student sitting at your desk trying to write a poem that won’t make you look like an idiot in your workshop class, that block seems pretty real. However, when there is pressure to write a poem everyday, the block isn’t as real. Or rather it becomes moveable. Sure, there were days I went to write and had no clue what I was going to write about, but I pushed through it. I (metaphorically) picked up the block, put it aside, and wrote.
Inspiration really is everywhere. In forcing myself to push past my writer’s block, I began to find inspiration for poems in everything and everywhere. I wrote about the stars, the night sky, my day, my fears, my hopes, my struggles, and my past. I allowed myself to see the world around me differently because everything had the potential to be something important. Everything had the potential to be a trigger. A trigger to something that I didn’t know until I started writing. And I can still see the world that way. I’m thankful for this.
In the end, something will be there. Whether you sprint to the end or barely cross the finish line, isn’t the point to finish? I struggled through part of my challenge, but I made it and I have over 30 poems (I wrote more than one on some days). I can’t use them all, but I can pull lines out of some of them and try to make them something good. And I learned several things. I did something, and that’s what matters for me.
Would I do this again? I’m not sure. Maybe in a few months when I’ve recovered. But, I would recommend it to any poet, writer, or anyone who just wants a challenge. Maybe you don’t want to write poetry or even care about it. But, find something to challenge your mind. Spirit. Emotions. And life with. Find something to care about, to grow, and accomplish. Life will become renewed when you do this.