In April I talked about a secret project that I had given myself for the month and I told you that if I was successful I’d talk about it more later. I wasn’t successful, but I decided I’m going to talk about it anyway!
My secret project for April was to write a poem a day. When I started on April 1st I realized it was the perfect time for this project because April is National Poetry Month. This was totally unintentional. I don’t keep track of all the special “national holidays” that we’re supposed to celebrate each month or day. But it was also unintentional because April wasn’t the month I originally chose to do this: February was. And then March. And I don’t think I even wrote one poem either of those months. But I wrote almost two weeks of poems in April and I learned a lot about why I wasn’t doing so well with the poem-a-day thing, so I wanted to share those thoughts with you.
1 // I know what tools I need to be successful. So I should use them.
An important tool for me are sticky notes. I like them. And when I have one on my desk, I tend to write my thoughts down. And let’s be real: I’m a writer. My mind is always going so I should always have a place to jot down my thoughts, even if I’m not trying to write a poem a day.
I should pull out a sticky note, was a constant thought that I had throughout April and I never did. I don’t need this to write a poem a day, I’ll wait until I’m home and write a poem properly, I kept telling myself.
Write a poem properly? What does that even mean? I don’t need a quill, parchment and a candle on an old wooden desk to write a poem. A sticky note with whatever pen is lying around on my dusty desk at work will be even better because I’ll actually write the poem.
2 // Set a time to be reminded of the task. And use an alarm.
I’ve found that when I think of a time to do a task, I’m more likely to remember to do it. Schedule it, in a way, without actually scheduling it. That time, for me, was 6pm. That’s when I feed Little One and that’s when I get the notification on my phone to see if my sister has posted some cute photos of my nephew on Tiny Beans, so that’s always the time that I set for myself to do things.
But that’s also not a good time to actually sit down and write, so while I was able to start thinking about what to write (which is essential, I need that time to think), I didn’t always sit down and put it on paper. What I need to do is set an alarm for later in the evening to remind myself to sit down and write.
3 // Daily tasks are hard. So I need to give myself grace.
I like the idea of doing something every day, but in reality life gets busy, it can be hard to fit a task into my every day life. And that’s okay. As much as I strive to be creative everyday, there will be days that I’m on the go and crash as soon as I get home. On those days, reading a page (or paragraph) before bed to unwind and “refuel” creatively will have to do. And I need to be okay with that.
4 // I’m rusty. So I need to write more.
Before this project, I can’t remember the last time I wrote a poem and it definitely shows! I’m a bit rusty! The first few days I was so frustrated as I wrote crappy poems that asked myself why I ever thought I could write one. And then I remembered that 1) these are essentially first drafts (always bad) and 2) it’s been awhile. So I need to write more poems.
And read more poems. I always think of Stephen King, who says, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time–or the tools–to write.” I’ve found that to be true.
5 // Write about the little moments of each day.
I’ve found that it’s helpful to get inspiration for a daily project like this from your day instead of trying to come up with something. And then you have daily moments documented that you can look back on, which is so cool. My favorite poem from April was based on a random comment that I overheard. I’d love to share the poem with you, but I like it enough that I might try to do something with it in the future and shouldn’t put it on my blog.
So with those lessons learned I’m going to try this out again. Not this month… so far May has been a little stressful and a lot busy. But I’m going to attempt a poem-a-day project again soon.
HAVE YOU TAKEN ON A DAILY CREATIVE PROJECT? WHAT LESSONS DID YOU LEARN?
[Tweet “What I learned from writing a poem a day–or trying to! #amwriting #createeveryday”]
ps – tips for completing Project 365.