Wednesday, March 24, 2010


This year, I'll be attempting the Napowrimo challenge. A writing prompt every day for the entire month of April.

The only other time that I really challenged myself in this way was when I participated in the Squaw Valley Writers poetry workshop week. 7 days, 7 poems. Each day our poems were critiqued by a random rotation of poets and writers who were also accepted into the program. The "workshop" crit was led by one of the following: Robert Hass, Sharon Olds, Dean Young, Cornelius Eady and C.D. Wright. We also had a one-to-one session and crit with Galway Kinnell.

The poems we turned in the next morning had to be newly written from the day before (or that week). The point was, that with this much pressure, a break through can happen. It was a wonderful experience and the best thing was that there was no turning back. You didn't have a back door. Not when you had one of these prominent poets giving you a crit the next day. The worse you could do was show up without a poem.

In return, they too, had to write a new poem every day. We listened to their first drafts!

It was based on an honor system though I suspect there were 1 or 2 people who turned in a previously written poem. You could tell who they were. Their poems were too refined, and clumsy in all the wrong places. They weren't chain smoking from their cabin's balcony, or locking themselves in their rooms when dusk triggered panic with the fact of having no poem after 10 hours of trying to do nothing else but write.

This challenge will not be the same because you can cheat, skip a day and make it up another day, make excuses. Blogging about it won't help either. The added pressure to blog a response to a writing prompt can help, but I suppose one could recycle an old piece. It is too easy to give up because no one is really watching. Life can get in the way and "save us".

You don't have the luxury of peace and quiet. Food is not made for you; work and chores won't do themselves. The phone will continue to ring, deadlines will loom and the bill collectors will continue to hassle you. Even if you do write every day, the idea of writing for a prompt seems like you are setting yourself up for failure. It reminds me of New Year's resolutions. We'll see how it goes starting April 1st. After all, I'd only be cheating myself. So I'll hope for a break-through and plan, at the very least, to fullfil the writing prompt on a daily basis.

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