Yes, you heard me right. It all started with one New Year’s resolution: become a more “prolific” writer. What does this entail? Well, for someone like myself, it means producing more poetry I’m proud of. Great writers only ever become great because they choose to write abundantly-- otherwise we’d have nothing to know them by. But the talons of writer’s block and creative paralysis never seem to go easy on me. I’ve gone entire months without picking up a pen and spilling my emotional guts out; for a poet just trying to develop her craft and dip her toe in the literary world, any sort of stagnancy is devastating. This is why, at the beginning of 2020, I vowed seriously to write more, post more, and challenge myself more. But all abstract hoping and wishing falls short, at least in my world, so I decided I needed a tangible goal. Then a proposition presented itself to me. One poem every day for a whole year. Posted on my social media platforms every single night. No exceptions.
At this point, you might be thinking, “Gosh, that’s unrealistic.” And you’d be right. There’s nothing realistic about being a dual degree college student, inundated with constant piles of English and Communications work, heaping all of life’s stressors on one plate and trying to balance it all with only two hands. Usually, by the time I’m finished with every obligation scrawled on my agenda, it’s time to unwind for bed. But not anymore. Every night, I burn the almost-midnight oil, bleary-eyed and often drained, staring at the intimidating blank screen in front of me. And then I pour.
There’s really nothing realistic about being an artist at all, actually. You can’t expect ease; that goes for anything worth wholeheartedly pursuing. But now that I think about it, all art is sacrifice. It’s staying up to accomplish something even though you have a 9 AM class the next day. It’s choosing to create, even by mental and emotional force, when your soul just wants to settle for an empty page. I’m choosing action this year. Unrealistic, ridiculous action.
I’m trying not to mistake quantity for quality, though, and I never want to create something artificial just for the sake of creating. That’s why I choose to post my work: to hold myself accountable. I need to be proud of what I produce. Not everything has to be my next greatest masterpiece, but I still like to uphold certain standards. Every day, no matter how I feel about my writing, I share it with those willing to read on my social media platforms. 35 days in, I can confidently say that there isn’t one piece I’m not proud of. They are far from perfect-- unrefined, sometimes unedited, usually spur-of-the-moment blurbs-- but I’m finding there’s no shame in that. It doesn’t make me less of a “good writer” because I’m not spewing out “publishable” content each night. It only matters that I keep going. Every so often, a few gems present themselves, but a lot of the time, my words remain in the rough. That doesn’t mean they’re worthless.
What have I learned so far? So much. About myself, about the artistic process, and about what it means to throw your heart and soul into a project that sometimes feels burdensome. I do it because I want to get back to where my roots lie: a deep and pure love for writing and sharing it with the world.
When it comes to art,
You surprise yourself. Oftentimes, I go into a poem thinking it’s definitely going to be about one very specific subject. Before it’s even written, there’s a specific color and feel to it in my mind. When I’m finished, however, sometimes I’ll find myself staring face-to-face with a foreign entity. I was feeling particularly nostalgic one day and wanted to write about my childhood. I didn’t expect to end up with something as deeply reflective as Generation Why: a glimpse into the past, back into the details of the early-2000's. Your end result is hardly ever what you expect.
You disappoint yourself. I’m not always in love with everything I write. I’ll post a poem, hate it, and actually consider redoing it-- but most of the time, I don’t. Sometimes just getting pen to paper or hands to the keyboard is something worth celebrating. Even the most notable artists in our society made “bad art.” It’s still art.
It becomes you. Weirdly enough, now that I think about it, this really isn’t about trapping myself in a hamster wheel to go as fast as possible. It’s hardly about poetry, either. What I’m learning, day by day, is that when you let art overcome your life, your schedule, and your world, it seeps into everything you touch. I have a greater appreciation for every interaction and occurrence, good and bad, because it’s more material to record and transform into something beautiful. Because I’m always on the lookout for poetic inspiration, I notice more. I see things that I wouldn’t normally see; the eye wanders and holds and takes in. Though I am writing every day, I am still taking in more than I am putting out.
Stuck in a rut? Consider setting a goal for yourself, even a small one. I know I’m glad I did. Poetry drives me these days. I wouldn’t want anything else in the front seat with me.
Here you can read all of them.