NaPoWriMo: The easy way to write a poem a day for 30 days
Write a poem a day
Every April thousands of poets write a poem a day for National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) and if you want to write better poetry you should too. It may seem like a tough challenge and it does require some focus and commitment but if you make the effort to write every day and silence your inner critic you will soon be writing poems you never knew you had in you. Here are a few simple techniques guaranteed to get new poems flowing from your pen every time you sit down to write.
Pick a topic
First decide what you are going to write about. If you don’t have any ideas beforehand try a writing prompt. My book Poetry Non-stop has 30 daily prompts and many websites offer prompts too including the NaPoWriMo site and Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides. It doesn’t have to be a good idea, just something to focus on. Whatever prompt or topic you choose, there is a poem there. You just have to concentrate to find it.
When you’ve decided what to write about, write. Spend at least 10 minutes writing about anything that comes into your head. Don’t even try to write a poem. Write random words, repeat yourself, make spelling mistakes but whatever you do keep writing until your 10 minutes is up. This gets you engaged in the act of writing and something that you think of during your frantic scrawling may well be the start of the poem.
If you still haven’t got any ideas find a picture and describe that. Ask yourself as many questions about the picture as you can. Speculate on what happened before and after. What’s going on outside the frame? How do you feel? What does the picture remind you of? You can also combine a picture with the prompt you started with. If there is no obvious connection between the prompt and the picture, even better, you have to be original. I’ve written some great poems using this technique which I would never have written any other way.
If you have tried these techniques you will probably have some idea for a poem but maybe it’s not coming out in a poetic way. Try writing in a set form. The restrictions this places on you means you have to be original in how you express your idea and creative in how you use language. Haiku, acrostics, limericks and triolets are all good forms to try.
Take a break
By this time you will probably have written something. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t very good. You must not let yourself be self-critical as you will end up being disillusioned and give up. If you have at least got a few lines down be satisfied that you have written a poem for that day. If the words really aren’t coming take a break, go for a walk. Let the prompt sit at the back of your mind. You will often find that an idea suddenly emerges or something you see or hear chimes with what you were thinking earlier and sparks off a poem.
By following these simple steps you will never be short of ideas to write about again. My book Poetry Non-stop looks at these techniques and others in a lot more detail. It also features more than 30 of my own poems with insights into how I wrote them. There is also advice on revising your rough drafts and producing poems of a publishable standard.
Good luck with your poetry and NaPoWriMo!
Poetry Non-Stop podcast
- Poetry Non-Stop
Listen to the Poetry Non-Stop podcast for interviews with poets, writing prompts and the chance to submit your own poems for publication and broadcast.