When I set out on my poetry project last year, I didn’t really know how long I could keep up with publishing a freshly written poem each day. I wrote blog posts and poems occasionally, mostly when an idea popped up in my mind to write about. But posting every day is something I had not done yet.
I had begun some blogging projects before, in which I aimed to post regularly on a certain topic, but I never really managed to take that for a long run. Then I remembered a TED talk by the always interesting and engaging Derek Sivers. Basically it says that if you announce your goal, and your social circles acknowledge that, you already feel like you’ve achieved it, or at least are close to that. However, if you keep it to yourself, and just start working on it, you’ll actually do the work that needs to be done to achieve your goal, and are much more likely to really achieve it.
With that in mind, I started writing and posting poems every day. And if I was lucky on one day, and got inspiration for more, I would schedule them for a few days ahead. This kept the pressure on in the first weeks to get into the rhythm of writing each day.
I also initially set myself a deadline. Publish by 18h15 at the latest each day. That way, I had some extra motivation to write early in the day. And really look hard for inspiration.
In terms of poetry style, I prefer to write free verse. My ambition was to experiment with some poetic forms, and maybe improve my writing. However, I decided early on that I would focus first on producing a poem each day, and then later on experimentation.
After about 3 weeks, I assessed that I could at least make it for another 2 or 3 months. So, I decided to go public with the intention. Not that I wanted to do this for a year, but that I was working on a personal project of writing a poem each day. Also, I experimented some with different poetic forms, but also with video.
During the project, I learned that I was looking at my world differently. I was constantly trying to find inspiration in everything around me. Everything. This also meant that I had to be sure to have a way to record inspiration directly. Normally, I would use a paper notebook and a pen to capture thoughts. And I still love to. However, I don’t have these always at hand, or two free hands and a place to take out my notebook and pen, sit down and write something. So I started using a notepad app in my phone. One that also allowed me to easily copy the text to my blog. In the end, I managed to write and publish 366 poems last year, one each day.
So, what have I learned about getting things done and achieving goals during this project? Let me give you three simple steps:
- Set yourself a challenge, and remember it’s your challenge and not someone else’s;
- Get into a habit of doing the work by:
- setting easy targets,
- setting deadlines you can make,
- begin small,
- make it easy on yourself by using the right tools;
- Do it.
Lessons from the poetry project
This is the third post in a series in which I share the lessons I learned from my A Poem Each Day poetry project. Earlier I wrote about reciprocity and choosing channels wisely.