One Poem a Week_My Writing Challenge for the Year from / writing tips, writing challenge, poetry, poems, writing inspiration

One Poem a Week: My Challenge for 2016

It’s true: I’m one of those nerdy poet types who’ll polish off a carafe of coffee in less than a morning, the one who communicates like a toddler unless I’m writing, the one who underlines and stars whole paragraphs in books and cries with sheer amazement at the mastery of a perfectly-crafted poem. God, why are writers so sensitive?



Throughout college I often wrote anywhere from 50 to 100 poems a year. Part of that was fueled by my coursework (I was an English major with writing concentrations), but mostly it was my deep love of writing that prompted me to pound out so many words per year. Writing has always been one of my greatest joys, and poetry the crowning jewel. Even my Master’s thesis was a poetry collection. I graduated three years ago, but I’d spent most of my last year writing, revising, scrapping, rewriting, organizing, and categorizing poems for my thesis collection.

It was mentally taxing and overwhelming, and I loved every minute of it. (I still wish I could be a professional student.)

Needless to say, I was more than a little burned out on academia by the time I graduated. I took the holidays off, vowing to jump back into writing with the force of a million fairies once the new year rolled around.

Well, the new year did roll around, and with it came a new job, my wedding, an Italian honeymoon, another new job, a move to a new town, and the start of my freelance writing career—not to mention months of adjustment to newlywed-dom and, well, adulthood.

I wrote a total of three poems that year.

It’s just a hobby, I figured, feeling disappointed in myself for becoming so distracted. What’s the big deal?

The big deal is this: When you’re good at something, and especially when you’re really passionate about it, it’s a shame not to utilize your gifts—not only so others can enjoy it, but so you can enjoy it, too. So you can feel fulfilled and enjoy what you love.

There’s no excuse. There’s no “I’m too busy” or “I’m too tired,” because enjoying your passion is the best way to rest, the best way to recover from the world and its demands. It’s the best way to replenish what the world takes from you in work, chores, bills, misunderstandings, disappointments, sickness, and loss. It’s the best way to deal with what you’ve been dealt.

As a writer, you have no excuse not to write.

Sometimes daily life gets in the way. Actually, it happens a lot, especially as you take on more responsibilities. But taking care of yourself is a responsibility, too. If you’re a writer (or any sort of artist), then engaging in your art is just another way of taking care of yourself.

This year, in addition to finishing my first novel, I’m committing to writing an average of one poem a week.

That’s it.

Even a small poem, a brief flash of light in an otherwise mundane day.

Not every single one has to be perfect or polished for publication. Even if I only get ONE worthwhile, publishable poem out of this whole exercise. Even on the weeks when I want to make excuses for my lack of dedication. Even if every single one sits unread in a file somewhere, dark and lonely and longing.

Each one will have served a purpose for me.

As a writer, sometimes that’s all that matters: Writing for yourself, to interpret your world or even just to escape for a while.

I can’t be too tired, too busy, too uninspired, or too indifferent to something that sustains me so well.

And no matter what your art is, you can’t either.

So what’s your passion? What will you commit to writing or doing every week this year?



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