On Writing Poems Daily📄📄
First published on .
Beginning in November of 2016 and continuing through November of 2017 I wrote one poem every day. Once every 24 hours for 365 days I sat down to write a new poem from scratch. It was a unique experience, and I learned a great deal in the process about poetry, writing, and habits. Here are a few of those lessons.
Creativity comes in waves.
There were streaks of time when everything I wrote felt flat to me. Sometimes for a week or more at a time the poems would feel rote and if there was a spark to them I couldn’t see them. The poems that I loved also came in waves. There were days when I felt like I was sinking three pointers shot after shot. It felt great, and I don’t even like basketball.
Keep writing through every mood.
Writing every day, I frequently found myself writing despite my mood, inspiration, or interest. I’ve had poems that I really like come out of boredom, regret, dissatisfaction, as well as their opposites. Honest exploration or at least acceptance of my emotional state helped me produce writing that I liked more often than the days I “lied”.
Most of what I write disappoints me to some degree.
I’m not proud of a lot of the poems I wrote this year and that’s fine. I’ve known I wanted to write since I was ten years old. I remember the second I announced my ambition to my Mom, yet I’ve usually shied away from finishing writing projects for over a decade – in large part due to a fear of producing something so bad that it was clear I had no business writing. The truth is Frank Herbert is right, “fear is the mind killer.” Many bad poems and novels must be written before stumbling on a couple good ones. And in the end I found that I was not writing to produce those few good poems. I was writing because I loved writing, rhymes, and words, producing a few good poems was an added blessing.
Every piece of writing needs editing.
One of the downsides of posting poems the same day I wrote them was that I only had time to do a quick pass for spelling, grammar, and other minor improvements before posting them. At the end of the year I had a 370-page document of poems that I sorted through and edited down into a collection of poetry.
Any task can become a part of your routine.
I was surprised how quickly writing became part of my routine. I even started resenting it the same way I resent other habits I’ve established. “It’s 11pm, I’m in bed, and I forgot to brush my teeth” easily became “It’s 11pm, I’m in bed, and I have to write my poem. But it also became something that I needed to do in the same way that I need to brush my teeth or shower to feel prepared in the morning.
Any task can stop being in your routine.
This can be both good and bad. During that year I cut different things out of my day when necessary because I was prioritizing writing. However, the other side is that the habit of writing that I took a year to cultivate, took only a week to disappear.
Inspiration can come from anywhere
This is what excites me still about writing a poem every day. There is poetry everywhere waiting to be recognized and pointed out. I saw a man walking in plaid sweatpants, a sunhat, and a plunger, a church sign I disagree with, a father holding his son, LaLa Land, traffic jams , and a field on a cold day. I walked with eyes a little more open since starting this project last year, and I hope you will too.