April in the US is National Poetry Month which also means it’s National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo although there’s also a #GloPoWriMo hashtag this year for Global Poetry Writing Month). The aim is to draft or write notes for 30 poems by the end of the month, an average of a poem a day although there is no obligation to write every day and it’s possible to have some non-writing days and catch up on others.
Benefits of NaPoWriMo
- It can kick start creativity – gives you chance to access how you write and what inspires you.
- Gets you thinking about poems, poetic forms and approaches to writing, perhaps offering chance to have a go at a form you’ve not tried before.
- Discipline – sitting around waiting for the muse to strike is a lousy way of writing, the practice of setting time aside on a regular basis to write, even if only for a month, shows that writing, like most things, takes discipline and practice.
- Reasons to prioritise writing that might otherwise get left on the To Do List or procrastinated away.
Risks with NaPoWriMo
- Writing begins to feel like a chore if the focus is on getting 30 poems and it becomes about the numbers.
- The temptation to compare how you’re doing with others – others might find the writing every day goal easy whereas you’re the sort who does a lot of reading and thinking before drafting a group of poems. The point is to focus on what you’re doing, it’s not a race and there’s no trophy at the end of the month.
- If you’re not goal-orientated because you write for enjoyment and don’t particularly seek publication, it can feel a bit pointless.
- Weaker poems can get written to meet targets. However, this misses the point: those weaker poems are still practice and can still teach you a lot about your own writing.
Personally, NaPoWriMo falls at a good time so I benefit from it. I start with the loose aim of writing a draft of a poem each day, but don’t get stressed if I don’t meet a daily target because the real focus is on the month end. I know I will have 30 drafts by the end of the month and I know there’s a point, generally around two-thirds of the way through, where inspiration dips: you’re over half-way but the end isn’t is sight. That’s when it’s useful to have some prompts or just take a day or two off and read to keep you inspired. I also know that not all of those 30 drafts will make it into poems. Some will be too personal, some will re-explore a topic covered elsewhere and that’s worth bearing in mind if you’re watching others flag up their daily totals and you’re not taking part. NaPoWriMo isn’t for every poet: it might fall at the wrong time or not fit with your approach to writing so you shouldn’t feel you’re missing out if you don’t take part.
Periodically, I’ll update my NaPoWriMo page with titles of poems drafted and whether any get accepted for publication.