Day 2 of November's Poem-A-Day Challenge: Some thoughts to help you through...

I have decided to try writing a poem-a-day for November.  I figure why not?  I have nothing to lose in doing this and everything to gain as far as new poems go.

William Stafford didn't believe in writer's block, he would say, "if you get stuck, lower your standards and keep going."

Here are a few of my thoughts on how to make writing a poem a day a feel-good event and not a month of annoyance--

1)  Start with a prompt, but no worries if you don't like it.  Each day, I'll check Robert Lee Brewer's Daily Prompts here, but if I find I'm having a hard time starting, I just pick up a book of poems, read a poem and see where it takes me.

2)  Write the poem, don't follow the rules.  If I start the prompt given, but find myself completely ignoring the rules of the prompt, I don't worry about it-- the goal is to write a poem, not to follow directions.

3)  Set a timer.  If I'm having trouble, I set a timer for 8 minutes and I have to write in the form of a poem until the time runs out.  Usually, I'm working on a poem by the time the alarm sounds, so I just keep working on it.

4)  Low expectations.  I'm not looking to be a superpoet here.  I'm looking to get some ideas, lines, or starts for poem, not write "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock."  My goal is to get something on the page that resembles a poem.

5)  No sleep until poem is done.  This is always a favorite technique of mine because I love sleeping.  I tell myself I can't go to bed until I finish my poem.  You can make your own restrictions-- no dessert/chocolate/wine until poem is done.

6)  Make it a game.  Do something different each day.  Tell yourself you will only use nouns at the end of the line that begin with the letter H.  Or you will write a poem using things you overheard your spouse, child, neighbor, friend saying.

7)  Reward yourself.  Tell yourself at the end of the month, you will get _________ if you wrote 30 poems in November.  We are each motivated by gain or loss (for me, losing sleep works better than buying a new book as a reward bc I know I'll buy the book whether I complete the task or not, but creating a restriction for me works better-- of course, you can do both!)



  1. Kelli,
    These guidelines are great. I especially appreciate "Low expectations" and "No sleep until poem is done." The threat of no sleep has gotta get me going.

    I like your spirit! Thanks.

  2. Thanks, Drew. Your comment yesterday inspired the post. (I responded to that also if you haven't seen it).

    Low expectations are what makes the poetic world go round!

    Cheers to you and have fun!

  3. I did see yesterday's piece. And what a thrill -- to know I inspired a blog post! I think this is a first. I should mark the ocassion with a poem. :)

  4. Great to know you're joining in! I have the roughly the same guidelines for myself but your 6 and 7 suggestions will be added for this year. I'm thinking of taking myself out to dinner to celebrate on Dec 1 :)

  5. The timer is an interesting idea. I'll have to try that out. Thanks. :-)

  6. You always have a way of inspiring us to write, Kelli, and every day, no less. I will try for every other day--but I guess that means I don't get any chocolate or wine.


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