PoWriMo: My Personal Writing Challenge For November

Today I feel like a statue with a sweet smile carved upon my face. I feel strong yet impermanent, graceful yet adolescent. Ease has arrived in my life like a toasted breeze rustling the autumn leaves, and I am shaken.

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

I’ve decided what my next step is: I’m sidelining the novel idea, and instead I am going to write a poem every day in the month of November. Call it NaPoWriMo, if you will, although there’s nothing national about it. So just PoWriMo?

I wanted to take a few moments tonight to write out my “plan” (they’re more like guidelines anyway) so we all know what to expect on this blog in the coming month. It’s important that I include myself because too-high expectations fling me into the burnout zone faster than a hand can honk a car horn in Los Angeles.

Gathering poems that inspire me

First, I’ll be gathering poems that have been important or memorable to me in my writing journey. Poems like When Death Comes and Wild Geese by Mary Oliver, Contre Qui, Rose and Archaic Torso of Apollo by Rilke, One Art by Elizabeth Bishop, The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot, Late Wife (a collection of poems—this one is great) by Claudia Emerson, Parsley by Rita Dove.

Over the next couple of weeks and throughout the month of November, I’ll be working on reading as much as I can! Poems, short stories, novels. I want to finish This Side Of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and then maybe scour the shelves at the library for any poetry collections that look interesting. I want to have as many poems in my toolbelt as possible, so that if you come to me with a burning need for a good poem, I’ll have one at the ready.

The daily goal

I’ll still try to keep writing for an hour each day, but I’ll also set a low bar for completion since this one will be more mentally taxing than freewriting. My daily poems need to be a minimum of 10 lines, but other than that I won’t set any requirements for rhyme structure, meter, or form.

I’d like to try my hand at a few different forms when the mood strikes, like a sonnet, a villanelle, a ghazal (forgot about that one!), and even a series of limericks.

I won't spend any time going back and editing during the month once I have "completed" a poem for the day. I'll save that for the end of the month, so that I can just focus on shaking all those rattling crappy words out of my earholes.

What will become of my daily posts?

I’m not going to force a daily goal of publishing to the blog. I’m a little anxious to say that because I’ve really enjoyed my rhythm of hitting “publish” every day. Plus, that little hit of dopamine doesn’t hurt.

But at the end of the day, my writing isn’t going anywhere. I may share a few tidbits of poetry on here (or any must-read poems!). Heck, I might even post every draft to this blog if I'm feeling extra brave. But at the end of the month, I want to have 30 poems total so that I can ditch 20 of them, edit 10 of them, and end up with one poem that I can be proud of. It may go better, it may go worse.

When I was in college, my habit was to get an assignment, write a poem, workshop it and then halfway edit it. As the years went on, I rarely wrote extra pieces outside of class, and so my skills haven’t advanced at a rate I could write home about. This is my attempt at regaining my footing and accelerating my writing skills once again.

Until November starts, I’ll still be blogging every day, so you can look forward to my late-night ramblings for at least another week. In the meantime, if you have any tips for how I should proceed with this challenge, let me know!