If you had asked me yesterday at this time, I would have said I am not participating in National Poetry Writing Month this year. Definitely not.
I had thought about it earlier in March, considered the haiku, and fallen in love with my friend Julieanne‘s suggestion for a “catku”–a daily cat haiku. I could pair a cat haiku with a cat photo. I could write about my cats, my mother’s cats (who were all my cats before they were her cats), my feral cats…. That’s two-thirds of a month of cats right there! A new cat showed up outdoors almost on cue, asking to be written about. I was in. Definitely in.
But then I was out. I’ve been planning a 100-Day Project (morning pages and a daily walk), and as I’ve been doing a trial run this past week, I’ve discovered that daily blogging takes so much time and energy away from what I can bring to morning pages. My morning pages often end up a morning paragraph as I shift my attention from writing for myself to writing for an audience. I feel like my notebook needs to be my priority this month. I was out. Definitely out.
I’ve had ideas for 100 Day Projects before but only followed through and completed the project once. Yesterday, I was reflecting on what made that project a success and realized that having a very small daily goal–something I could complete in 10 minutes–was essential. Sulieka Jaouad’s words about staying motivated reinforced my insight:
Choose a project that is manageable in scope and scale. That may mean having a time commitment of 5-10 minutes or undersetting a goal for the day—for example, just one sentence a day.The Isolation Journals
Three morning pages is not exactly undersetting a goal.
I still want to write in my notebook each day. But I want to set myself up for success with a 100-Day Project and not feel like I’ve failed if I miss a day–or write a paragraph.
So it was back to the drawing board. What did I really hope to achieve with morning pages and a daily walk? A deepening of writing practice, a commitment to being present, a re-engagement with nature after living nature-starved for the past few months. I wanted to notice more what is around me–notice and appreciate.
And suddenly I was back in.
I brought Clark Strand’s wonderful book, Seeds from a Birch Tree: Writing Haiku and the Spiritual Journey, with me to the coffee shop yesterday and read this:
As haiku poets, we begin simply, by carrying a notebook and walking in nature every day. Then, gradually, we learn to sketch from life. At the end of each notebook I fill with haiku, I am always struck by how much more of the world I have seen, and how much more in love with life I have become.Clark Stand, Seeds from a Birch Tree
In the past with daily poetry challenges, I have needed the accountability of publishing a blog post every day to ensure that I follow through and write a poem. But this year, I think I will keep writing even if I don’t publish every day. Since daily blogging isn’t a goal I have for myself this month, I have decided to join the wonderful Poetry Friday group and write a wrap-up post each Friday where I will share a haiku I’ve written during the week (perhaps sometimes about cats!) and reflect on how the challenge is going. I will pursue morning pages and a daily walk as support for my 100-Day Project.
I didn’t have my phone with me to snap a photograph of the surprise daffodils I saw on my walk yesterday. So pale they looked like plastic flowers bleached by the sun.
nearly green clusters blooming
against yellowed grass