How to Conquer this Year’s National Poetry Month, the 30 for 30 Challenge

Kelly Stoldt

Every year, I feel obligated as a poet to participate in the 30 for 30 challenge when April rolls around.  In order to celebrate National Poetry Month, the challenge consists of writing a poem a day, for 30 days straight. And, every year, the same thing happens.

Writer’s block hates me.  I forget.  I’m too busy to keep up with it.  I hate everything I write.

This year, I’ve got a game plan.

It’s already a few days into April, but it’s never too late to start!  If you’ve already “failed,” here’s some ways to get back on track.

1. Be forgiving

Very few people I know have ever successfully written a poem every single day of the month, and oftentimes have to play catch up or skip days entirely.  Even more so, not all of the writing you produce is going to be good.  Or it will be, but you’ll still hate it.  I like to live by the rule that sometimes poems have to be written not for the finished work themselves, but for the process that the artist goes through in making it.  These poems aren’t meant to be final drafts, or even kept. Be kind to yourself, please!

2. Join groups

Facebook groups are in abundance now, and I’ve stumbled across several groups come April that specifically are meant for giving prompts and sharing writing throughout the month!  Looking at other people’s pieces or finding new prompts could help you out of that writer’s block, especially as the month comes to a close.  If you can’t find one, make one yourself!

3. Write short

Write a line a day, if it’s all you can handle.  A full poem doesn’t have to come out of each day, and sometimes a solid three line poem you can post to Instagram is all you need.  The point is to encourage production of art, not to set an impossible standard for yourself.  Start small and do what you can.  I know some people who write a line a day and finish with a poem at the end of the month!

4. When in doubt, stream it out

Stream of thought writing has produced some of my favorite ideas for poems.  When writer’s block is too strong, put on a song or read a prompt and just… type. For 5-7 minutes.  Make sure you set an alarm, and boom! There’s your writing for the day.  You might never look at it again, or you might like the direction you headed.  The brilliance about stream of thought is that where you start and finish could be entirely different.

5. Don’t make it a chore

The second that your feelings about the process have about the same appeal as cleaning the bathroom, stop.  It’s not worth it.  Walk away for a bit and come back when you want to write.  If you don’t like the process, you’ll never like the product.

Good luck, and happy writing!

For more ways to participate, you can visit https://www.poets.org/national-poetry-month/about-celebration.

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