NaPoWriMo 09 – a few thoughts halfway through

Hallelujah, we’re half way through. Time for a quick status report.

I have to admit, I’m finding it really tough. Get behind by a day, and suddenly life makes damn sure you stay that way. Phone calls, lost relatives, life, the universe and everything.

scanner-fear-4-by-dave-dyetI’m also finding it hard to stay positive – I know that quite a few (ok, the majority) of the posts I’ve put up have been garbage. It gets pretty depressing when I read around some of the other NaPoWriMo blogs and see work that is so much better than mine.

And it’s also bringing home to me how indulgent I usually am – being self-employed, I have virtually no fixed demands on my time other than those I choose to accept. And I’m finding it hard to write a poem a day. Even a rubbish poem every day. How on earth do other people – people with kids, or jobs, or both – how on earth do you manage?!

But then again, I am learning. I’m learning to shed some of my ego. Being committed to posting a poem for every day means that I have to accept that sometimes I’ll be associating my name with things that wouldn’t normally make it past a second page in my workbook, let alone ever be paraded in public. And I’m having to grit my teeth and push past my usual blocks and superstitions – I usually avoid typing up a poem until it gets to a certain stage, because it seems to get “fixed” there, and I find it really hard to push past that. But I don’t really have a choice here. And I am having to make starts on a lot of poems that otherwise would have stayed in my journal as “poem seeds” – I need them now! Right away!

scanner-fear-3-by-dave-dyetI used to be able to write poems quite freely. Anything. Out of my head, onto the page. A bit of tinkering, but sometimes not very much before I’d send them off somewhere public. Then I started to really learn my craft. These days my poems don’t usually get sent out until I have really worked hard on editing them. Which is good discipline, but also a way of protecting myself. I now have something to lose. Credibility, I guess. And NaPoWriMo requires that I either

  1. invent a 72 hour day,
  2. clone myself a couple of times,
  3. cheat, or
  4. find some courage, and show my poems off stark naked


The latter is what I’ve been doing so far. With mixed results, but then did I really expect anything else?

And on the plus side? I’m not going to have to create anything for the rest of the year. I will have more than enough material to work on for the next eight months at least. And having made it public, I’ll have plenty of motivation. (Ah shame, where would I be without you?)

How is NaPoWriMo treating the rest of you?

4 Replies to “NaPoWriMo 09 – a few thoughts halfway through”

  1. You have to really swallow your pride! On working days, I read the prompt the night before (taking advantage of the time difference), think about it on the way to work which is either a half hour walk or half hour drive depending on which job, and then jot it down in my coffee break.
    Strangely, if I have a whole day free, it’s harder to fit it in.
    I don’t care in the least for any of my efforts, (well, maybe one or two), although reactions to them have been OK. I think the thing is that I don’t actually care necessarily about the topic when writing to a prompt, it simply becomes an exercise. I can’t manage to twist every prompt to fit my particular passions. But it’s a wonderful way to shake up my work habits.

    1. One good aspect of this NaPoWriMo chaos is that I’m having to completely abandon thoughts like “you’ve written too many elegies/animal poems/grandmother poems lately. Find another topic!” I have to take whatever comes, wrestle it in to some sort of shape and get it out there.

      Is there a NaPoEdMo? (National Poetry Editing Month?)

  2. I am loving it this year. I haven’t gotten to the crunchy point yet, I think in part because before this I had been in a kind of writing hiatus for most of the last 4-6 months.

    The comparison thing is hard. I struggle with that anyway. I personally find that I hate prompts, they don’t work for me at all. I’ve done this for four or five years now and it gets easier each time I’ve done it and in truth provides a great deal of material for editing, just like you said.

    I’ve had to work hard to fit my writing around all the other things I spend time on. But having recently been someone with a lot of free time for a considerable amount of time, writing took just as much discipline then. Just a different kind for me!

    Anyway, you’re doing well! I hope the rest of the month gets better!

  3. Thanks Emma.

    I’m not going to tempt Murphy by saying “well it can’t get any worse”.

    And it’s not true anyway – there are some good poems in this lot, just starting to stick their heads out of the soil. (I’m going to resist the temptation to add that we’re going in to winter, and hence this is not a great time to be germinating … ok, so no, I’m not going to resist. )

    Are there any other Antipodean NaPoWriMo-ers out there? Other than me, Catherine and Emma?

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