How to Start Out Your New Year with a Poetry Action Plan - by January Gill O'Neil -

January O'Neil (aka PoetMom) is someone I admire for her dedication and organization.

She recently wrote a post about how to create a Poetry Action Plan.  As a Capricorn and unashamed planner, I love things like that.

Here's the first step in what she wrote on her blog (my notes/comments are below it in purple):

5 Steps to Creating a Poetry Action Plan

If you’re interested in creating a Poetry Action Plan (PAP) for yourself, here are a few suggestions. Note: it should be flexible enough to morph and change as your life changes.

  1. Define your goals. What is most important to you as a writer? Is it practicing your craft? Do you want to read your work in public? Is this the year you finally complete your manuscript? Whatever it is, name it, claim it, and put it at the top of your list.
****January hits on what is probably the most important part of any action plan or goal setting.  You need to determine what the best goals for you.  

For one person, a goal may be becoming more comfortable with readings.  For another, it may be submitting your work (more or for the first time).  Someone else may want to write a long poem or a sestina.  Each of us have things we want to accomplish.  

So much of life is not about looking at what your neighbor is doing --- remember when the teacher would say that in school: "Kelli, don't pay attention to what your neighbor is up to" (or maybe this was just my teacher...he also said, "Kelli, quit chatting" quite a lot).  This idea of focusing on ourselves is *so* important when figuring out where we wnat to go in life.

Our goals, resolutions, plans, actions, and our lives need to be specially created for us.  By us.

I am a big believer that goals and plans work and are needed in both our regular lives and our creative lives.  For me, it's a good time of year to look at what I've done and where I'm going.

What creative projects do I want to work on?
What is taking my time away from my writing life?
Who supports me?  Who doesn't?
What can I do differently?  What can I do better?
What should I say no to?  What should I say yes to?

One thing is sure, there is no right way to be poet, artist or writer.  There is your way.  

When I look at my goals in my poetry life they are to figure out how I can give back and what I can do for others, as well as work on keeping what I call a "retreat mind" -- that is the mind that doesn't get caught up in celebrities without their make-up or who broke up with whom. It is not the mind that spends endless hours chatting about people instead of ideas or scans the internet trying to find the best price on skullcandy earbuds (Amazon seems to be the best price on the blue, not that I would know.) 

For me it's living simply and deliberately.  It's remembering to pay attention to the details around me.  And honestly, I'm sure there are people who just live this way all the time, but I must make a conscious effort to do it.  I have to remind myself daily.  Some days it's easy, I make all great decisions.  Other days, not so much.

But I could go on for awhile on this, but I want you to make your own Poetry Action Plan and think about what's important to you.



  1. My yoga teacher used to constantly remind me to quit looking at others as I tried to hold a pose. She kept saying, "Quit comparing yourself to everyone else. It won't help."

    Wise words, in yoga and in every other aspect of my life--unless it actually helps clarify my goals (but it rarely does--it usually leads to me castigating myself for not doing enough and doing it better).

  2. It is indeed so important not to measure ourselves against others (we will always find that we are lacking, because that is what we are looking for, right?). That sense of "Am I doing this right?"

    It is scary but wonderful to take accountability for what we create!

  3. Kristin, my yoga teacher said something like that too, "This isn't competitive yoga, focus on yourself."

    I think glancing occasionally at other writers can be helpful, but not comparing successes or things that make us feel incomplete.

    Hannah-- I learned early on, the way to have happiness is not to compare. When I learned that, I liked myself and my life so much more!

    Thanks for your note!

  4. As a person who runs Open Mics and writing round tables in my area, I suggest like I do to potential culinary students (I teach culinary classes and am a chef too)- you should also try various stations to see what it is you want to focus on as you go. Its always good to evaluate others positions, placing ourselves in many shoes so to speak. Fit it into the plan...even if it is not your life goal, we do not know until we try, right?

    Okay I hope that is not too off the subject LOL


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