Monday, September 2, 2013

The Poetry Writing Tip No One Gave Me (and oh, how I wish someone had!)

Here is my primary wish and most useful poetic tip I can give you for all of OctPoWriMo and beyond:

Be gentle with your poetic self and forgive yourself now for any perceived short comings lurking in the hallways of your poetry yet to be written.

Read that aloud if you must, several times, before continuing along with me.

Sometimes it happens like this:

She finds herself reading a ten-year-old bestseller, in this case from 2003, written by an eccentric artist-writer-poet-Rilke lover. She has been watching over her dear friend’s children while dear friend is having a long overdue weekend away alone with her husband.

She knows, somewhere in the recesses of her mind, she has some deadline approaching, rapidly.

She is too busy reading and making origami and worrying about her friend as well as her love to even get near that portion of recessed mind until someone outside of her mind says,

“Yo, what is it? This is due in less than an hour and I’m seeing nothing!”


You’ve probably figured that “yeeping” person is me.

This post is really not about me, though, it is about “her” and “you” and “him”  and “them” or perhaps most importantly to “us.” Even when you do not write what you hope to write, or forget to write, or get sick and can't lift your head much less your pencil or your heart, everything is going to be fine. Forgive yourself first, collect words later.

Since last OctPoWriMo I have written less poetry than I have in any twelve month period for the last ten years.  In nearly all that time I have been fairly tough on myself for that fact.

Now, on the eve of another OctPoWriMo and with the need to write something for you to chew on as we embark together on this adventure in words, a warmth is spreading in me for me.

There is nothing wrong with the lack of finished poems in the last twelve months just like there is nothing wrong with any of your present or future writing escapades.

I have continued to take notes.

I have continued to be alive and alert to what has unfolded and is unfolding right now around me. This portion of the tip? Very important. Being alive and alert to what is around you each and every moment will fill you with poetry all day, every day for the rest of your life. You can choose whether or not to scribe it. If your choice is not right now, that's perfect. It is all still there, ready and waiting, whenever you choose to go back and scoop it up.

I will no longer critique my lack of completed poems (or completed anything!) as some form of character flaw that either needs fixing or is beyond fixing.

I WILL, however, insist you be gentle with yourself  through both the OctPoWriMo period and the time before and after. There are no OctPoWriMo police, even with the additional folks helping out, no one will look down on you or cluck a tongue at you or anything like that.

I even decided on those days I can’t seem to craft even a haiku or micropoem, I can still write : a poem – and qualify as having written: a poem – each day. In fact if: a poem – is the only poetry I write from now until the end of time, it is enough.

No need to yeep. No need to worry that without a really cute image inserted here I might be hated for life!

Word-love and: a poem is all you and I need.


  1. As a confirmed yeeper, not sure I can manage this...but I like the idea. No pressure...wonder what that feels like? Lol! Seriously, lovely post...and a very important message.

    And hi!

    1. Hi Anna! We seriously need to meet up at Dagny's one of these days. Or perhaps even a writing date? I love those.... its been for-ev-er. :~)

      (Which reminds me, I introduced Morgan to Dagny's when she visited Bakersfield this year. I only took her to a couple of my favorite spaces!)

  2. thats so good to read . I been feeling so guilty myself for not sitting with my thoughts. mostly i scribble short notes here and there and though they are good , they do not give the satisfaction of a poem. Hope I too can fare better next month :)

    1. We're all together in this!! I look forward to reading your words!

  3. I always enjoy reading your posts Julie, I am so glad you decided to join us again this year!

    1. I look back at last year and think, "What the hell was I thinking, ten days post melanoma surgery!" Glad to be here.

  4. Yes! It's all about expression and getting those ideas and thoughts out and to try and make it an everyday practice!

    1. Absolutely, Linda. Let's bring our thoughts into words and sculpt them onto the page, yes?

  5. Great post on one of my recurring themes, Julie! Thanks for the reminder. I always love reading your words. xoA

    1. Thank you, Annis! I enjoyed the heck out of writing this one... and then again, I have such a love affair with words I usually enjoy each and all of them! Happy almost #OctPoWriMo!

  6. Deadline? Ha! I do some of my best work under pressure! At least that's what I am usually telling myself as the clock ticks the minutes away at a gut-wrenching pace.

    I was just having "that" talk with myself about how I've not written any poetry since the end of April. Thank you for the reminder to be gentle with ourselves this (and every) month!

    1. I'm so grateful to hear you enjoyed this. I don't even like to use the word "deadline" for the most part. It sounds so....*meanacing*!!!

      I look forward to reading your words!


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