For a month now, I've been tackling a new short poem on a daily basis, and at the moment I feel like I want to do this for the rest of my life. I say at the moment because I have other writing tasks in the pipeline, foremost an essay commission, and I know when the new academic year gets underway it may prove difficult to accommodate writing time on my teaching days.
Halfway through this month of daily writing, I learned about the London Writers' Salon's free writing hours via Zoom (with thanks to writers Joanna Nadin and Anna Wilson for talking about it on Twitter). I've been going to the 8-9 a.m. UK session every day for two weeks now, even showing up at my desk for an hour on weekend mornings when the LWS sessions aren't running.
Of course not every poem is a good one, but then that's part of the pleasure, too. One day I wrote a poem about the Olympic gymnast Nadia Comaneci and my memories of her influence on me in my childhood, not least because I was taking gymnastics classes from the age of 2 or 3 to the age of 12 and was 7 when she achieved her momentous 10s at the Montreal Olympics. The first attempt I made is okay--a serviceable, but not very original or interesting poem, to my mind. A couple days later, I tried again; as the first version had been a prose poem, this time I tried a poem of single-line stanzas, a form I've been experimenting with the last couple years. Presently I like this newer poem, which I drafted a couple days ago, far better than the first, but even now I wonder whether I might like to try tackling the subject again in a few days or a few weeks--better, I think, in a few weeks, when I'll be more likely to approach it from a different angle.
Another element that has made this daily writing more useful than my previous attempts at NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month, April, for the uninitiated) was taking LWS' free writing goals seminar on the first of August. I always have so many projects going that sometimes I struggle to make progress; I have to remind myself to pause and prioritise. This month then I chose to focus on a poetry manuscript in progress, about world and personal events of my childhood in the seventies, to look at both my own 'origin stories' and the world as it is now, to look at how those two intertwine. I haven't done that exclusively, as it's important for my creativity to diverge occasionally into other interests (such as ecopoetry, for one), but ultimately I hope by the end of August to have 20+ drafts toward the manuscript in progress, and if I'm lucky, and if I work diligently on revisions, hopefully ten or thereabouts will be worth including in the draft manuscript.
But it's not entirely about being productive--it's also about writing better. When I read and write more regularly, I make increasingly better choices; I push my poems harder in their diction, originality, &c. &c. in the composition process. I see that the poems I've written at the end of this month of daily writing are palpably stronger than those I was writing at the beginning of the month. Thus it's not so much about a whole new poem a day so much as writing poetry daily, whether parts of poems, fragments, what have you.
It's nearing 11 a.m., and soon I'll be off to the gym. I've read some poetry and drafted a new poem and feel gleeful, and I can hardly wait to do it again tomorrow.