For the 30 days of November, I have been out of the social networking, blogging, poetry world.
Why is that? I was taking part in National Novel Writing Month, along with hundreds of thousands of people around the world. There were also a fair few from my home in Liverpool, UK.
NaNoWriMo, as it is more commonly known, is 30 days of writerly abandon. The aim is to write 50,000 words (or more) by November 30th. This was my first year and only managed the get 17k and I hope I continue with this in the New Year
What does this have to do with poetry? On the face of it, nothing whatsoever
However, I learned lessons, which I will apply to poetry writing.
1) Don’t edit immediately: This may be an obvious thing to say, but is something very difficult to do. NaNoWriMo’s mantra is: Don’t edit, Don’t delete. Both these should be done later. It is better to put down what you feel you want to say or need to say first, including all the repetitions, poor (or over) use of adjectives, nouns and verbs. Anything you do want to delete, just move it to a “trashy bits” folder somewhere, park it up and forget about it until you next need some inspiration (or, more often than not, are in need of a two headed, yellow bug-eyed prince charming who owns a thoroughbred Blue-Green Dragon that puffs out large quantities of bright pink smoke). You may never require any of the “deleted scenes,” but you will regret it if you need something that you previously deleted from existence.
2) All storywriters should at some point, write a poem or two. This followed a conversation I had with a fellow “NaNo-er” and my only appearance at one of the specially organised “NaNo Write-In’s.” I’ll skip all the particulars, the what’s and wherefore’s, concentrating on the Why’s? Put simplistically, poets need to be precise; every word used must carry not only its own weight, but also the weight of the line. Poets are aware of the timing, the rhythm, the sound of each piece they create. Poems should make an impact on the reader – create a connection. Storywriters and storytellers should take heed of the painting of the poem, not just the subject matter.
3) All poets should in turn, write a story (short or long). This enables context and voice to be explored at a different level and different, less restricting way.
4) (An important one for me) When you tell people you write poetry, their eyes do not glaze over. Okay, this may be only true to other writers, but this was an amazing encouragement for me. In fact, my fellow NaNo-ers often sent me info and links on good, descriptive poetry when I was stuck at various different times trying to describe mundane things in an original way. It introduced me to poets I had never known before.
(Thanks to HornbeamUK for that one – It’s helped immensely)
I’m now ready to start again with the half written poems I had prior to beginning NaNoWriMo11, putting into practice what I have learned (I think 2 & 3 are already ticked off the list).
P.S. Big hint to anyone living in the Liverpool area: If you are part of, or are starting, a writing group, or indeed just want to get together with other writers, please leave me a message here or on twitter (@poets_hide). I would love to join you at some point (providing it is not mid-week).