Writing the Way: One Month Until the End of the Year

Can you believe there’s only one month left in 2014?

When I see numbers like that I feel a fresh fire in my veins and know that certain things can wait while I double down on the things that I’d really like to complete before the year is over.

Right now I’m focusing that energy on two projects. With my latest collection of poems, Pilgrim, freshly launched just two weeks ago, I have renewed energy for another poetry manuscript that’s been taking shape since 2010. I’m also going to rework a book proposal that I wrote in 2012, started revising last spring, and have gestated long enough.


What are you wrapping up at this time of year? Are you trying to shore up your creative life in any particular way? I’ve noticed that for some writers and artists, December is all about getting organized, clearing off the desk or work table, and squaring up the schedule in order to begin the New Year with energy and mental space for something fresh.

Since we’re talking about ways to attend to one’s art, I want to mention that I’m facilitating the December round of the 21 Day Poetry Challenge. This is an opportunity to receive daily writing prompts, conceived and delivered to you, for you, during the three weeks leading up to the winter solstice. We begin tomorrow, December 1. It’s not too late to join me if this strikes you as a useful way to round out your creative year.



To give you a taste of what I’ll do during the next three weeks, here’s something I shared during the last Poetry Challenge (each round contains new content, allowing participants to do it over and over if they so desire).

21 Day Poetry Challenge, September 2014

Day 2:Three-line poems

This exercise will prove that you can write a poem in as little as ten or fifteen minutes a day. It will build your confidence, but only if you trust and do. Taking inspiration from the haiku (an ancient Japanese form in which the poet observes the world, and concludes something about himself or human nature, all in the span of 17 essential, but easy-going syllables), work with the barest elements to compose a three-line poem that communicates an emotion by providing concrete and sensual details that will evoke the sensation in the body or imagination of the reader. Try not to “tell” the reader what the emotion is. Let the images show and evoke.

Don’t worry about counting syllables here. The greater benefit will be in discovering the power of small poems.

Here are a couple of contemporary examples from a poet named Beth who wrote one “haiku” per day during a nine month period while her son served in Iraq. I found them in Natalie Goldberg’s wonderful book The True Secret of Writing: Connecting Life and Language.

The wall disappears
and time becomes a sweater
I give to my son


Vowing not to kill
I carry an ant outside
on a newspaper


Young doe on lakeshore
nibbles tender water plants
I was never wild

A few tips:

Don’t evaluate. Don’t proclaim your “poems” good or bad. Just write. Let your body remember how it’s done, why it feels good, thereby renewing your instincts so that you can better recognize the poems you have within you. All them the space and time to emerge, like a newborn. Let them be.

You may write more than one of these small poems today, and you may find that it works so well that you write three liners all day long. Have fun with it. The more playful the poet, the more malleable the imagination.

Join me for the 21 Day Poetry Challenge by filling out the form at the bottom of this page. [contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Why are you attracted to joining the December 21 Day Poetry Challenge?’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Are you working on anything in particular right now?’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Would you prefer to pay by check or credit card? (The cost is $100.00 and includes feedback on two poems at the end of the session. You%26#039;ll receive a confirmation email and invoice once you enroll.)’ type=’text’/][/contact-form]

poetry matters. join the conversation.

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poetry matters. join the conversation.

join my community