Poetry as Journaling

One of the unexpected side benefits of my poem-a-day month has been that I have found myself using the poem prompts almost as I would journal prompts. You can look back over the 22 poems I’ve written (yes, I’m a little behind) and get a pretty good sense of my emotional state in the past few weeks, the days when I’ve been down and the days when I’ve been up.

Blogging has been a wonderful tool and definitely made me a better writer, but for me, it’s never been a confessional-style journaling tool. I’m not a blood-and-guts kind of blogger, preferring to save my most revealing moments for longer-form work. I’ve published poems and essays about my life, but that’s not what blogging has ever been about for me, even though I knew it would limit me as far as popularity. I don’t see this as “emotionally shut down,” but simply as self-awareness about what I want blogging to be, and how I want to function as a writer. I want you, my readers, to feel like you know me, but not like you know all of me.

So the poems I’ve been writing, which are all attempts to capture certain moments or emotions, have really been valuable to me, personally and as a writer. As a poet, I like some of what I’m coming up with, but even more, I’m finding some of that release that every diarist knows, when we hit upon the exact right word that expresses what we’re feeling, and our soul feels a little lighter. It’s a nice combination, and I’m trying to think of ways to keep it going after my month is over. I know Poetic Asides does a Wednesday Poetry Prompt, and I’m wondering what else I might be able to find.

Jumpstarting My Writing

The keyboard of the Malling-Hansen writing bal...

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As important as writing is to me, and as central as it is to my identity and conception of myself, when something has to drop from my daily juggling act, too often, it’s writing. So for 2012, I’m determined to jumpstart my trajectory as a writer and poet. This is a broader goal, not a concrete one, which means I need to think creatively about how to accomplish it and what that might look like, and what the steps toward success might be.

Thanks to my poet friend Christine Stewart, I’ve got some specific ways to get started on reinvigorating my writing routines. As always, Chris has a pile of fun, creative and reflective ways to start thinking about this, so I’m feeling inspired to get started. Right now, I’m thinking my theme will be “commitment,” in line with my determination to shuffle writing higher on my priority list as often as I can.

Another interesting exercise I’m planning to try is inspired by this post of Penelope Trunk’s on things she wishes she had written, and what that told her not only about her dreams for her writing career, but about the accompanying emotions each evoked in her. As provocative and disturbing as Trunk can often be, I also find her writing to frequently be insightful and inspiring, and this entry was a great example. I often think I’d like to have written some of the many amazing Dear Sugar columns, for example (the one on your invisible inner terrible someone blows me away every time I read it), but I don’t aspire to being an advice columnist, per se, so what is it exactly about Sugar’s writing that I’d like to emulate? I think it’s not only her eloquence, but her candor and compassion, so how can I incorporate those threads into my work?

Finally, I sat down and drafted a list of specific writing goals for the year, which I’ll share in an upcoming post.  In the past, I made lists of broader goals, but I didn’t find those to be motivating as I would like, so I’m working on a specific list, as those seem to be more effective for me.