A Poetry Project for National Poetry Writing Month #napowrimo22 #NationalPoetryMonth #100DayProject

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.

New feral: Lemon Biscuit

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

Of course.

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.

palest daffodils
nearly green clusters blooming
against yellowed grass






18 responses to “A Poetry Project for National Poetry Writing Month #napowrimo22 #NationalPoetryMonth #100DayProject”

  1. TammyB Avatar

    I love the idea of morning pages and a walk for a 100day project. I should make drinking water my 100day project! LOL
    Your haiku has inspired me to play with it this month. Thank you!
    I feel like we need to connect – there are so many similarities we have! I will try to find your contact page.
    I am going to check out the Friday poetry group as well…

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Drinking water would be a totally reasonable 100 Day Project lol. Let’s definitely connect! I left my email in a comment on your blog. I know that you would like the Poetry Friday posts.

  2. […] want to play with some formats this month and will come back to some haiku which was inspired by another blogger’s post. I love Natalie Goldberg’s Haiku book and reread parts of it last week to inspire […]

  3. Leigh Anne Eck Avatar
    Leigh Anne Eck

    This is such a managable project! I just recently came across The Isolation Journals but missed this 100-day challenge. I am playing with poetry this month as well. I love the opportunity to be creative. Looking forward to hearing about your project and progress.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’m surprised that I’m feeling like continuing to be creative after March. It’s nice to feel some creative energy returning. I love your project and how it centers playfulness. I’m looking forward to reading your posts.

  4. Lainie Levin Avatar
    Lainie Levin

    I can understand this. I was in. And then out. And then in. And then out. And now I’m in-nish. As in, I’m starting, and just hoping that sheer momentum would keep me moving forward…

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      “In-nish”–love that. We do have momentum, routine, and habit on our sides this month, and I hope that will help.

  5. Trina Avatar

    I am SO impressed that you are doing this… I think that I will just write Haiku or other writing on my own, but yay for you!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I mostly want to focus on writing on my own this month too, as I’ve neglected my writing practice for the past few months. Inviting myself not to blog each day will hopefully clear some space for writing practice.

      1. Trina Avatar

        Good for you!

  6. Laura Purdie Salas Avatar

    SO smart to think about what it is you REALLY want to get out of your goals–whether they’re your 100-day project or NPM or anything else. We put an awful lot of pressure on ourselves at times. Love your unexpected yellowed grass, and I also love Seeds from a Birch Tree, which I read a couple of years ago. Sometimes simple is so much better!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Simple is really its own discipline and practice, isn’t it? So easy to make things, including writing, more complex than may actually serve us best at a particular moment.

  7. maryleehahn Avatar

    Your “I’m IN!…I’m OUT!” waffling cracked me up. SO very relatable. You talked your way into the discipline that’s just right for you. Happy NPM!

  8. Mitchell Linda Avatar
    Mitchell Linda

    Bless…it’s the first word that comes to mind when I read your post. I’m not sure why. But, I hope you feel the bless of your morning pages and walks and that the accountability you’ve established for yourself. You can do this. Personally, catku is a genius idea. I need to go find some, right now!

  9. lindabaie Avatar

    I like that you shared your various writing angles, choosing what feels good for you! And though I have yet to see even pale daffodils yet, definitely we have the yellowed grass. Happy writing!

  10. Natasha Avatar

    Writing a haiku a day feels like the perfect size goal for poetry month, and it lines up so well with your goal to take a daily walk. –Though I also liked your idea of writing a haiku for each of your cats (and former cats). You’re making me think that perhaps I want to take on a poetry goal for the month, too. Haikus feel doable.

  11. heidimordhorst Avatar

    Hello, DP! (Can’t make out your name!) I understand completely this struggle to figure out how much is enough vs. how much is too much! I’m glad you found a way to participate that sounds like it will feed you. And I think your daff-ku is beautiful.

  12. Janet Alcorn Avatar

    Lovely haiku and a great idea for a daily practice. I also love the quote about writing haiku leading to noticing more. I find that’s true about journaling and photography. I look more closely to record details.

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