Writing Habits

Write a Poem Day: 365 consecutive days

At the top of the year, many writers set new writing goals and embark on new challenges. We are inspired to shed old habits. We promise to be braver, bolder and more disciplined. We vow to get a grip. 

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Robert Desno

Earlier this week, I wrote a post analyzing one of Robert Desno’s poems “Once There Was a Leaf.” Desno was a French poet and journalist who lived in the 1900s. In 1936, he “wrote a poem a day for the entire year,” according to the Poetry Foundation

Immediately, the wheels in my creative mind began turning. 

What would my creative life look like if I consistently committed to writing a poem a day for 365 days?

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Let’s be honest. This sounds like an impossible task. What writer, of any level, has time to write every day for an entire year? 365 days is a long time to devote to any habit. But then, I thought a little more. I have habits that I have done for 365 days for dozens of years. Every day, I brush my teeth, wash my face, take a shower and check my phone (multiple times). If I can do those tasks, why couldn’t I write a poem for 365 consecutive days? 

The two biggest obstacles are time and writer’s block. I could overcome the time obstacle by scheduling as little as 5-10 minutes to write. I’m not striving to write an award winning poem. I’m just trying to write a poem. Lowering the stakes makes the feat feasible.

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Jerry B. Jenkins

Recently, I have been investigating the sources of my creative blocks and its . I watched a video of New York Times bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins discus how to overcome Writer’s Block. He has published over 200 books so I imagine he knows a bit about the subject. 

He argues that writer’s block is a myth. He asks: “If writer’s block were real, why would it affect only writers?”

Jerry Jenkins

Valid question. He says we don’t call our supervisors and say, ‘hey’ boss, I’m not coming into work today because I have worker’s block.’ Jenkins contends: “No other profession accommodates such an excuse to quit working so we, writers, shouldn’t either.”

His premise is that “writer’s block is a cover for fear.” Rather than entertaining our blockage, we need to use fear to humble us and to motivate us to work hard to create better writing. 

Creative writing is certainly a complexity with nuances that are easily explained. Depending on the work, writing daily may legitimately be a challenge, no matter the level of devotion. Writing a poem is not exactly like baking cookies. However, I think sometimes writers are not as consistent because we have such mindsets. 

So, I have decided for 2020, I will take the challenge of writing 365 days. My purpose is not to grind more or work harder. I honestly want to do more of what I love, and I want to tap into that love daily. I think this habit will help tear down the mindset that every time I write it has to be beautiful. And it will confront the fear that hinders me from showing up and trying. I picture this journey to be a messy, and I am seeking perfection. 

Hopefully, a year from now, writing poetry will be a lot more like brushing my teeth and less like pulling teeth. 

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Planning Poetry Projects

In an earlier post, I shared with you my method of organizing projects by using binders. Another tool that has helped me start organized is a collection of Project Planner worksheets. I did some searching online and found Printable Pineapple. The owner, Shannon, has been featured on BuzzFeed. What I love about these worksheets is:

  1. They are affordable. It costs under $5.
  2. Since they are printable worksheets, I don’t have to have a separate planner for projects. The worksheets were automatically downloaded after my purchase. I print the appropriate worksheets and put them in my binder. This was a major win for me.
  3. I can break my projects down by week, by month etc. I highly recommend them. You can find other useful planning tools on her website.

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What are your writing goals for 2020?

One of my favorite aspects of a new year is that it feels like life has given me a reset button. I can start over; I can revise; and I can re-think. I even can do new things. I’m sure you have heard of New Year’s Resolutions, and you may even have strong opinions about them. There are valid arguments about why they are effective, and there are reasonable arguments for why they are ineffective.

However, I think it’s wise for writers to set goals whether in January or June. Goals provide direction and focus for your writing. They can give you a path for fulfilling your writing dreams. They also keep you accountable for not letting your writing gift still idle and be untapped.

If you haven’t set a writing goal this year, I want to encourage you to do so. I don’t want to offer you a formula for effective goal setting. Google provides lots of information on that. Instead, I want to serve as a cheerleader, motivating and pushing you to set a goal. I have found that it I connect a goal to a habit and schedule it, I tend to be more successful.

For example, I have three writing projects I am doing this year. I am not sure when they will be finished and ready for publication. I don’t want to rush the creative or research process nor do I want these projects to go on for decades. Rather than setting goals for publication, I will be scheduling writing days to work on these projects. I also will be selecting a couple of poems from each project and submitting them to literary publications in hopes of having them published. I often am unsuccessful with reaching my goals when I do not calendar them.

I want to encourage you to set a writing goal that matters to you and schedule time to work on that goal. Last year, I read Michael Hyatt’s Best Year Yet and it was helpful in re-thinking a new year. I highly recommend it. I would love to hear your writing goals. What do you hope to achieve in 2020?