Artists vs. Craftsmen, or: Why I’m Not Participating in NaPoWriMo This Year

I won’t be participating in NaPoWriMo this year. I waffled for the past couple of months as to whether or not I should. To explain why I’m not, I need to tell you about a recent revelation I had about myself:

I finally realized that I’m not actually a creative person. More importantly—I’m happy with that. I’m tired of feeling like I’m supposed to be creative when I’m clearly not.

To explain this revelation, I need to tell you a story about LEGO…

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National Poetry Writing Month 2016: A Summary

When I set out to participate in National Poetry Writing Month, I didn’t intend to write a poem every day. I just wanted to write two or three each week. I managed that, with quite a few more than two or three during the first full week of it. I hoped to end the month with anything between six and twelve new works. I did a bit better than that.

I confirmed that I do my best writing when I have external prompts to stimulate my creativity. However, I don’t always need to follow the prompts to take advantage of them—with my creative juices flowing, I’m more likely to write unprompted work, as well.

I attempted a wider variety of poetic styles and voices than I’ve done before, with varying levels of success. The challenge also gave me a chance to try a couple of new ideas I had for using modern technological devices to create poetry. I don’t know if this experience will get me to write more poetry overall, but I think it will improve my work when I do.

Now I have a year to decide if I want to do this again next April.

Here’s how my NaPoWriMo 2016 numbers break down:

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The Day I Left Home, Got in the Car, and Drove (NaPoWriMo 2016)

The day I left home, got in the car, and drove,
I swore I would never look back.
I broke this vow less than 10 miles down the road.
But my view out the rearview mirror
Was blocked by all my stuff, boxes and backpacks,
Piled in the back seat. My world shoved into my car,
Every nook and cranny filled. It wasn’t as much
As it looked like, filling up my little hatchback.
My world uprooted, taken on the road,
To find a new home, new soil in which to plant myself
And bloom. They say home is where the heart is.
They say you can’t appreciate home unless you leave it.
That you need to wander for a time, to see the world,
To learn who you are in a new place,
Before you can truly understand your roots.

I Sang (NaPoWriMo 2016)

Today’s NaPoWriMo challenge is to “write a poem that begins with a line from a another poem … but then goes elsewhere with it.”

The challenge states that the line doesn’t need to be the first line of the poem you borrow from, but my line is. It’s the beginning of perhaps my favorite poem of all time:

I Sang by Carl Sandburg.

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Kenning Poem (NaPoWriMo 2016)

Today’s NaPoWriMo challenge is to write a “kenning” poem:

[T]hink of a single thing or person … and then write a poem that consists of kenning-like descriptions of that thing or person.

(Provided examples can be seen here and here.)

I love kennings! I love how playful they can be, and how they challenge you to conceptualize the world in a different, more essential, way.

There’s a sense from the way today’s challenge is described that a kenning poem should aspire to function as a riddle. I suck at riddles, though, so I’m confident the object I chose to describe is perfectly obvious to all. That’s OK—I’m proud of my description.

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The Void (NaPoWriMo 2016)

I’m losing steam. More accurately—I’m losing motivation and inspiration. I seem to be maxing out my capacity for writing poetry.

I’ve never tried to write this much in such a short period of time. My desire to write comes and goes. I’ve always thought I should be a writer but I’ve never been able to maintain the habit of writing for more than brief periods.

Nothing wrong with that, I don’t have to be a writer. But I committed to participating in NaPoWriMo and I’m unwilling to throw in the towel halfway through.

The prompts from the NaPoWriMo site for the first half of the month worked well for me. But these most recent few… Just not clicking. They’re not generating anything usable in my mind.

I need to write something if I want to keep going with this challenge. So, I turn to my usual strategy when I’m having difficulty making myself write—I write about not being able to write.

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