It’s November, which means it’s once again time for the biannual Poem A Day Challenge via the Writer’s Digest.
The guidelines indicate that the goal is to produce a chapbook-length collection of poems by writing one poem every day throughout November.
I’ve tackled this challenge before, and believe me, it’s not easy. Writing a poem every single day, even with writing prompts, is a commitment. Missing a day here and there and then playing the catch-up game is a serious hit on my motivation.
That said, I started thinking about the solitude of writing, and wondering what keeps other writers motivated when there are no prompts or daily challenges issued. (Note: Lots of sites offer prompts with some frequency. If prompts are your thing, read this.)
I know what keeps me motivated:
- A healthy reading habit. Consistently engaging with poetry keeps me inspired. I feel like I’m running alongside other writers when I read their work, then putting their books down to follow my buzzing mind wherever it takes me.
- Writing with a project or manuscript in mind. I’ll often start writing a series of poems organized around a certain theme, like animal poems or a crown of sonnets. The end goal doesn’t always have to be a finished manuscript. I’m happy to get a few successful poems from this practice.
- Impressing my writing pals is great motivation! I’m not suggesting you write for an audience or your own ego. But if you have a writing group, or even one writing friend, who you respect and with whom you share your work, you might be more apt to push a particular poem through a few more drafts before sharing it. And if you engage your readers, they are more likely to offer you beneficial feedback that can help you polish your work even more.
- Can I impress myself? It’s often said we are our own worst critics. I try to write from a place of believing that I can push myself beyond what I wrote yesterday. I can use five great words instead of six good ones; I can write a rondeau; I can write a poem about a common topic, but with a new perspective or handling of language.
So what motivates you in your writing life? Please share your personal stories and tips as comments on this post.