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Customizing NaNoWriMo 2016

November 1, 2016

nano_logo-830912ef5e38104709bcc38f44d20a0dFirst of all, congratulations and good luck to any and all who have chosen to attempt National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this year!

Of course, also, a special shout-out to libraries and librarians supporting writers, with cool book displays, meetup activities and the like.

Am I going to write a novel in a month? Nah. No. Definitely not. While I’ve had story ideas kicking around in my head forever, what I lack is structure and drive, especially where plot is concerned, never mind 50K deadline-driven words of it.

What I want to do is poetry. I’ve written poetry off and on my whole life. Scribbles in notebooks, poetry classes, even publications in tiny little literary magazines. Poems collecting (dust) in a folder marked “chapbook?” and filed under “Someday.”

Reading poetry has fallen by the wayside, too. I’ve gotten out of the habit of more than a cursory glance at daily poetry mailing lists.

How to make a challenge that dusts off my poetry brain, while tapping into the zany, pressurized energy of a month-long deadline?

Step 1: See all the exciting, invigorated posts by my fiction-writing friends on blogs and Twitter, diving bravely into the challenge of churning out 50 thousand words.

Step 2: Whine on Twitter to said friends, dithering about whether to do any kind of NaNoWriMo.

Before I got too deep into the whining, thankfully,  Gomez had some excellent ideas:

  • Start with a poetry reading challenge.
  • Read one poem a day/night. (Length doesn’t matter.)
  • Really dig into it and read it, as critically as possible.
  • If possible, discuss the poem with someone else because it’s hard to do critical thinking in a vacuum.
  • Once a week, you have to attempt one new poem. You don’t have to show it to anyone. The poem attempt is allowed to suck as much as it needs to.
  • Try to read one poem a week by a poet you’ve neglected previously.

Hm. Okay. That sounds… like a decent combination of doable yet frantic on deadline.

Ideally, it will help me do the main thing I want… start reading and thinking about poetry, to dust off my poetry writing tendencies.

Not sure if/how much I’ll blog the process, though I may keep a running list of poems.

And I also don’t want to neglect my fiction and nonfiction reading and reviewing, and various other sorts of blogging. Plus, of course, the work of library life, and the upcoming holidays.

To that end, I think I’ll pad this experiment a bit… I’m going to give myself until December 17th.Because, let’s face it, Thanksgiving and the impending end of the library semester will rattle even the most well-intended routine.

What shall I read to start off?


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