For the month of November, I wrote a poem a day and posted it here. Every day, by midnight, no exceptions. Here are some things I learned in the process.
1. Deadlines Are Your Friend
Knowing you have to ship something before midnight every day puts a lot of things into perspective. Regardless of “feeling like it” or “other things coming up”, you have to decide what is urgent and what is important. Tip: do what is urgent first.
Deadlines define the difference between urgency and importance. In my opinion, our art, whatever it is that comes from our emotions and heart, is what is urgent.
2. Shortcuts Get You Nowhere
I could have written a bunch of poems in October and scheduled them to post throughout November. But that would be cheating, and I didn’t want to cheat on you. Every day, I was in the trenches, in the art, in the emotional labor of writing. A few of the poems were from years ago, polished and dusted off, edited, and in some cases, rewritten. The rest of the poems came from showing up, putting my butt in front of a computer, and writing.
3. Shipping Is Better Than Good
I’ve been reading books by Seth Godin this year, and one thing he advocates is shipping. Putting your work/art out there, in front of people, and not stalling by worrying if it is good or not. I think they are all good, but some may or may not resonate with you. And that is okay, but keeping the art to myself and not sharing it out of fear, is not okay.
How many poems/manuscripts/songs/illustrations/novels/sculptures/photographs/articles/ideas do people have that are collecting dust, hidden away out of fear? Out of being “good enough”. Out of “trying to make it perfect or done” (Tip: it will never be perfect or done. That is still hiding.). Trust me, I know and I’ve been there. Some of the Poemvember poems are 10 years old that have collected 10 years worth of dust and fear. I encourage you to put your work, your art, in front of other people. Either online or offline. Who knows what may happen?
4. The Secret Is In Our Emotions
Someone asked me how it felt putting out a poem a day for people to read/judge/etc. The short answer is: absolutely terrifying. The long answer is: absolutely spankin’ terrifying. Putting yourself out there is scary, yet liberating. You hold onto your “precious”, whatever that may be. But at some point, you have to let it go. If you love it, you have to set it free.
Some days I was freaking out about what to write, what to say, will people like it, will I get my point across, do people even like poetry anymore, etc. But, regardless of the fear, the deadline was midnight every day. Which helped quiet the noise to my surprise. On several occasions I asked myself, “do I care more about my fear or about you.” Not ignoring my emotions but writing from them is something I learned during the process.
Thank you for reading, for being a part of this project. The lion of resistance roared throughout; there were several times I debated whether something was good enough or feared putting out subpar work. But a funny thing happened. The more I poured my heart into each poem and not just my mind, the work held more emotional labor. And the lion was tamed.
And you can do it too. 🙂