Get a grip & other rules

Weather Report

All this time on the the planet, and still I am no wiser
than I was thirty years ago, when I began to write,
scratching on a yellow pad while the voices in my head
screeched not good enough. They're still shrieking
their shrill words in my left eat, just above the migraine
that's singing a high E sharp from its perch in my brain.
Not good enough, and I know it, but today the sky
is that low blue note that comes after a storm,
and the locust is sending out round green messages
as it bobs and weaves in the wind. There's a flock
of cedar waxwings in the sumac, wearing
their little black masks, stealing the afternoon away.
The light streams in from the west, still I wrestle
with my old friends faith and doubt. A thin scribble
of clouds float by, obscuring the sky, and all the words
are hiding, elusive as that bird over there, the one
that's singing its heart out, just out of sight.

Barbara Crooker
from Calyx, Summer 2011


November is National Novel Writing Month and writers are rattling across keyboards in a rush to create a novel in a single month. I'm exhausted already.

And the poets, not to be outdone by their driven brethren, are pressing pen to paper to pull a poem a day from the mysterious fog where poems reside. And this, too, wears me out. 

With a mixed mind I enter this writing challenge. I don't like group-think, though I do like structure. Don't like obligation, but favor commitment. Don't care for frenzy, but crave productivity.

I'm not writing a poem-a-day. Can't take the pressure. But I am writing every day. Already, just a week in, I'm feeling good and stretched. The following reminders have helped with my writing pledge:

Drew's Rules for Daily(ish) Writing 

Set low expectations

I'm not writing profound poems or epic tales. I am writing one word and another word and maybe a few more. I am writing lists that turn into poems, and dreams that turn into trippy descriptions. I'm doodling with words. If something reaches higher, great. If not, so what, I've exercised my mind. (Tip of the pen to Kelli Russell Agodon for this suggestion).  

Any bit of time will do
I don't write all day. Five minutes will do. If it's going well, I keep writing. If it isn't, I let go and return the next day. By establishing a daily pattern, I've lessened the pressure to write good each time.


Have fun. Let go of results. Remember the mystery of pen, paper, mind.

Get a grip
Stop whining. Writing is not manual labor.