I am a great lover of writer prompts, and I seem to have accumulated a dozen books of them. Books that I almost never open…
This year, however, I’ve had a major realization around writing prompts.
My realization began with my new little poetry project that builds on my old one-bad-poem practice. I was doing some reorganizing (an on-going process) and I happened to take down my 2007-2008 book of poem drafts. Early in my five years of writing one poem a day, I revised and re-revised and turned a good percentage of them into actual poems. But by 2008, the practice was beginning to fall apart.
Two thousand eight was the year my mother’s memory problems first came to our attention. In 2008 I was teaching full-time and (if I’m remembering right) I began teaching the very rewarding and very time-consuming Creative Nonfiction class (which changed my life). In 2008 my older daughters were teenagers — 14 and 14 — and though I am apparently in some denial about my year with them, I know from my younger daughter’s 14th year that it can be a roller coaster (she was only 8 years old in 2008, and a delight). In 2008 my dad’s health was slipping a bit and becoming a concern. In 2008 he told me that he thought he was going to have to sell his cows (which he never did, by the way). In 2008 I said yes to a big committee at my church.
So I was writing every day, but it’s really stretching it to call what I wrote a “poem.” It was more like a moment to stop and make an observation and jot down a few lines. In 2009-10 I completely lost it and stopped getting the poems typed up…which eventually led to calling it quits. But in 2008 I was still typing them up. And I’m so glad.
Here’s my realization in a nutshell; it isn’t original, and this isn’t the first time I’ve come across it, but it’s well worth repeating:
What you pay attention to, grows.
Rereading a “poem” (or whatever it seems to be), writing it into my journal, retyping it, doesn’t take all that much time (and I’m very very forgiving if all I do is read it and make a note or two). But…
even when you haven’t much time — perhaps “especially” when — stopping for fifteen, or five, or ONE minute and paying attention to what you want to create more of will work magic.