31 days of poetry prompts


I didn’t see myself as a poet

I wrote poetry, sure, but it was just something I did when I needed to vent my feelings. During a time in my life when I had a lot of feelings to vent, I started sharing the resulting poetry on a blog. Two years and 100+ poems later, people started referring to me as a poet. Now I've even published a whole book of my poetry.

Becoming an accomplished poet is simple: write lots of poetry.

It may be simple, but it isn’t easy. Showing up to write is the hardest part of the process. Showing up to anything alone is especially difficult, so I invite you to come join me in building a writing habit over the next 31 days, and join other participants by using the hashtag #31poems on social media.

Every day in October 2016 I shared some sort of inspiration in the form of a prompt or writing exercise.

Whether you’ve never written a poem before,
have hundreds of poems under your belt,
or find yourself somewhere in between,
if you want to grow your writing habit
and create beautiful pieces of art with words,
this series is for you.

I believe anyone can write poetry. Sure, it comes more naturally to some people than others, but if you can use words, you can compose poetry.

What do I need in order to participate?

1. a little bit of time

It doesn’t have to take much time to write a poem.

This month, plan to set aside about 30 minutes each day to read the post, reflect on it, and write a little something. Of course, you can always spend more time, but consistently showing up to write each day, even for a few minutes, is better than setting aside hours at the end of a week to try to write a whole bunch of poems.

2. your unique perspective

Poetry is one of the most personal kinds of writing. It can be simple or profound, epic or to-the-point. It all depends on the author and what he or she brings to the table.

Don’t worry that you have nothing to say. Don’t compare yourself with poets who live in an idyllic setting surrounded by beautiful inspiration. There are people in the world who need to hear what you have to say in the way that you have to say it. They want to hear from someone like themselves, someone they can relate to. Don’t you?

3. a few simple tools

It doesn’t take much to write poetry. In fact, you can “write” poetry with only your voice by simply speaking! So don’t let worrying about tools stop you.

Decide how you want to record your words. I like to use a simple spiral-bound notebook and black pen or my computer, depending on my mood and where I’m writing. My husband uses his phone. Keep in mind when using electronics that it’s easy to get distracted by apps and notifications, which is one reason I love my paper and pen. I can take it outside or to a quiet corner of my house and shut out any other distractions.

What if I’m uninspired by the exercises?

When I taught creative writing, I told my students that the exercises weren’t assigned, they were suggested. So long as they were writing, I was happy. The same goes for you this month. Make the process your own; if you are uninspired by the day’s post, write something else. Write about how much you hate the prompt. Go back and repeat an exercise you particularly enjoyed. Rebel against my suggestion and go the exact opposite direction. I don’t care what you do, so long as you write.

When should I write?

Use this month to develop a healthy writing habit. Developing a habit requires discipline and consistency, so sit down to write at the same time each day.

I do my best writing in the morning. Right now, I get up before the sun to write, choosing my topic the night before. Around this time last year, I would go to work a half hour early, and use the inspiration gathered on my 15-minute walk to the office to write for a bit before beginning work.

Maybe you read my posts in the evening, sleep on the ideas, and write as soon as you wake up in the morning. Maybe you write when you get home from work. Maybe you write while the children in your house are napping.

Whatever you decide, write at the same time every day.

What if I’ve never written poetry before?

Excellent! You won’t have to unlearn bad habits!

I believe anyone can write poems. My mom writes clever (and usually silly) rhymes, often as a way of encouraging other people. I write quiet reflections. An epic poem fills a whole book, while a haiku is just three lines long. There is a style of poetry for everyone.

Use this month to experiment and find where you fit. Be willing to try something new, and as you find styles and patterns that resonate, collect them to draw inspiration from later.

Ready? I know I am. Let’s make this month beautiful!