NaPoWriMo - Summary and So What...

So many of us have finished NaWriMoPo, so what. Was it worth it? What did it prove? Is posting our poems on our blogs just an act in narcissism, ego, or is there value in this project?

Well first, I think the act of writing a poem a day took a lot out of me, however, it is a good reminder that we all can create something where there was nothing. I think that what keeps coming back to me, there are some poems that I wrote in April, that I liked and will continue to work on and these poems would not have been written had I not pushed myself to write a poem a day.

It makes me ask, what else can we do if we push ourselves? Write a chapbook? Finish a collection? Write a novel? A memoir? There is something to be said about that extra kick in the bum when it comes to the creative life. Yes, the muse and inspiration is all lovely, lovey-dovey woo-woo, but it's not always convenient. You are a busy person and have 30 minutes to write a day, if you're muse is out picking wildflowers, you're screwed.

In certain ways, this experiment of writing 30 poems in 30 days is a sort of be-your-own-muse (like be your own best friend) belief. I showed up to write, muse or not, I had to write a poem a day. There were days I was channelling William Stafford with his thoughts on if you can't write a poem "lower your standards." I did. And some days I was happy with what came out of on the page.

As for posting these poems on my blogs, some people may think it's a lesson in ego and self-love (ah, my beautiful poems!), but for me, someone who revises and revises and revises before I submit my work, it was a lesson in humility and vulnerability. In showing you what I look like when I wake up in the morning, not the profile pic where I am lipsticked and mascaraful.

I remember when I read some of Elizabeth Bishop's unrevised poems. Horrible. Terrible. And how I LOVED that about them. Her first drafts were not publishable. They were awful stinky poems and it shows her expertise as a poet by how she was able to revise them. I think reading the NaPoWriMo of others and my own poems reminds me that sometimes we write the good, the bad, and the ugly and that's okay. It's a great reminder to me that the greats are necessarily great but persistent and focused on revision. So every not-so-good poem has hope depending on the time and energy I want to spend with it.

Was it worth it? For me, yes. As I said, there are poems I wrote this month that I wouldn't have written. That immediately makes it worth it.

January had these questions on her blog and I'm going to attempt to answer them--

1. Number of poems written in April.
30 (at least)

2. Number of poems you’ll keep and revise.
5? maybe more if I can revise them to a better place.

3. List the titles of your top-three NaPoWriMo poems.
Magnetic Forces and All You Want - I'm not sure of a third.

4. List your three least-favorite NaPoWriMo poems.
I know some of you liked this one, but my least favorite is Hold Me Closer, Tony Danza as I was just stuck that day. Also, my haiku and Before Leaving Home, which never really went anywhere.

5. Favorite line from one of your NaPoWriMo poems.
a poet dialing 1-800-SESTINA or freshwater espadrilles floating across the puddles of cul-de-sacs/contemplating DJ Jazzy Jeff,

6. Notice any patterns?
Towards the end, my poems had a sadness in them and I was in a little bit of a funk, but when you focus on an emotion sometimes it comes out larger. A friend emailed me to ask if I was okay, which I thought was very sweet.

The only other pattern was that I think my poems were stronger at the beginning of the month than the end, which tends to be true for me both in writing practice and violin practice. As I get more and more tired, everything goes downhill.

7. What surprised you most about writing a poem a day?
That poems were written. Seriously. That I could pull a poem out of my hat like a rabbit, though sometimes it was a scary, disheveled rabbit with bad teeth, but still recognizable as a rabbit.

8. Now that you have momentum, what’s next?
Take the summer off!

Actually, my second mss is complete and I'm sending out much more seriously now. It's hard for me to work on anything else while that is out in the world. Though I have another mss on the back burner and a couple of these poems may go there.

I think the best thing for me to do is to submit my work more. I'm a dedicated writer, but when it comes to sending out my work, whether is be my mss, poems, or essays, I only get about a C to a D+. It's something about myself I would like to work on (and was from January to March), but it needs to be a focus for me a little.

And it's not that I mind rejections, I don't. Submitting is not my favorite thing to do. If I have extra time, I'd rather write, walk Buddy Holly (my dog), garden, or read. I would even rather clean the house before submitting. It's just not a favorite thing to do, but definitely part of the job and I'll work on it.

Maybe in May, I can post some places we all can submit to and make it a group exercise, in case others hate submitting as much as I do.

Welcome May and again, thanks for reading.



  1. A lesson in humility and vulnerability -- that resonated with me. I did Napo in a group at the Gazebo, posting and lightly critiquing each day, which stretched most of us to the limit. Some days I allowed myself to write a poem I could not post and had to write something else just so I could post something. Eventually I just gave in and posted whatever the day brought, allowed rough drafts to be exposed. I admire you for posting here on your blog, Kelli. And the prompts! It was inspiring to read. What I got from this year's Napo (besides 30+ poems) was a sense of camaraderie, of adventuring together as artists - invaluable.

  2. Hi Rachel,

    Yes, definitely the sense of camaraderie, there is definitely connection when creating together.

    Thanks for your note and congrats for your month of poems!

  3. I have never found it difficult to write for NaPoWriMo. What get me in trouble every time is that I concentrate too much on trying to out think the prompt or believe that I am supposed to do something a certain way.

    This year was a real failure for me because I just couldn't ever get a solid footing on what I wanted most to say. I kept approaching it by my follow through was horrific.

    I got my month of poems, but they were not nearly as creative as they could have been if I had actually lost myself in the writing.

  4. I am less happy with what I did this year for NaPoWriMo than last year, but I'm happy I did the project. I like the weird stuff that comes out when I sit down and have no idea what I'm going to write.

  5. Justin,

    that happens to a lot of people when following a prompt. I always try to remind myself, if something is coming and it isn't want the prompt suggests, that's okay. Or write what I want to write then title the poem something to fit the prompt (if I want to be a rule follower). ;-) But at least you tried, so congrats for getting a month of poems, even if they were as creative as you hoped.

    Valerie-- I'm the same way. I'm always amazed what I'm putting down on paper. I think those are my better poems, when I surprise myself as well or am extremely honest.

    Thanks for your notes!


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