Hello again. It’s been a little while… I hope you’re good.
As promised, I’m going to talk to you about the recent remedy to my eight-year writer’s block— Bad Poetry Reverse Advent.
[Listen along with me, or feel free to carry on reading below]
But before we start on that, I have to tell you that the biggest change I made was just deciding that I wanted to start writing again. Really consciously deciding. Not feeling that I should be doing it, but knowing that I really wanted to.
Remove any doubt, don’t leave room for excuses; just decide that you want something. It’s only once you commit to an idea that you’ll work out a way to make it happen.
It makes things a lot easier. But it’s something that’s hard to force.
Once I’d decided that I was ready to start writing again, Bad Poetry Reverse Advent was my strategy to achieving this.
Granted, maybe I could have come up with a snappier name.
The aim of Bad Poetry Reverse Advent was to write 25 poems everyday from 25th December to 18th January.
Why “Bad Poetry”?
The idea wasn’t to go out of my way to write bad poetry, but it was important to let myself know that writing bad poetry was okay.
I now realise that writing “bad” poetry is necessary.
I care very deeply about things– which can be great– but it also gives me a tendency to want to produce my very best in everything that I do all the time. This is not achievable. This can prevent me from starting things; this can stop me from producing things that are raw, or rough, or messy. Or just a bit crap. But ideas and words need space. They need room to be ugly, to grow, to be crossed out, redrafted and reinvented. It’s a process.
“Bad Poetry” gave me permission to write for the sake of writing, without worrying about the outcome. Now I feel less like I need permission to do that.
Why “Reverse Advent”?
I’m not big into New Year’s resolutions, but am very much about creating goals and challenges for myself.
By my bed, I keep a handwritten list of things that I would like to achieve– short-term, long-term, at-some-point-term– and every week I write and rewrite that list. Some items are easily ticked off but most of them aren’t. I write and rewrite that list. Some things I achieve, some things stop being so important to me, some things roll on, and some things are added. Writing poetry was on my list.
I’m not big into New Year’s resolutions because I do pre-New Year’s resolutions.
If you make a resolution in November/December, all you need to do is sustain it until January.
Once you get to January, you get a little boost because the rest of the world is New-Year-New-Me-ing so you can ride that wave with them.
By February, you’ve been achieving your goal for three months already and it’s becoming a habit. I’ve done this for the past few years, especially with fitness goals, and it’s been working really well.
On 25th December 2018, I decided to write a poem everyday.
It was important to put a timescale on this. Without an end-date it would be impossible to achieve the goal because there wouldn’t be a finish line.
Because I’d started on Christmas day, a reverse advent seemed logical. In my secular world, advent is advent calendars– one piece of chocolate for the 25 days up to and including Christmas. Therefore, I would produce a sweet treat of a poem for the 25 days including and following Christmas.
Simple and silly.
The main message– four things I’ve learned that have helped me make big changes
Maybe you don’t want to write poems.
But, if there is something you’re hoping to achieve, this is what I’ve learned so far. I hope it helps:
- Decide what you want to do. Make it something specific and really commit to it. Accept that you are going to achieve it. There aren’t any other options for you to entertain– you’ve decided you’re going to do it, therefore you are.
- Be kind to yourself. It’s important to push hard and give things your all, but you also need to nurture and support yourself. Talk to yourself like you would a friend. Things don’t always go to plan, especially when you’re trying something new or finding a way to grow. It’s okay. Just keep going.
- Take it seriously, but not too seriously. If you’re in a place where you’re setting yourself goals and reading blogs about it, you’re probably taking things fairly seriously. It’s good to be motivated and ambitious, but not at the expense of silliness and joy. Remember the reason for what you’re doing and make sure it keeps fulfilling you.
- Have a finish line. How will you know when you’ve achieved your goal? I like to have a skill-related finish line (e.g. 25 poems) and a time frame (e.g. 25 days). Make sure these are realistic for you with your current lifestyle. Having a finish line will help you to forage for morsels of motivation when you’re flagging.
In essence, it’s simple. Decide what you’re going to do, when you’re going to it, and just do it. How can it be so simple?
I’ve spent a lot of time doubting, waiting, being indecisive and thinking too much about other people. But now, realising that things are simpler than I’d thought, in the last year I’ve managed to buy my first car (all by myself), leave a bad relationship, get a new job, finish my degree, move to a new city, move home twice, get fitter, have new hobbies… loads of stuff. I’m proud of myself.
Just because it’s simple, it doesn’t mean that it’s easy. That’s important.
Generally deciding, or accepting, that you’re going to do something is harder than the part where you make it happen.
Anyway, if you were looking for some ideas, I hope this helps.
So how did it go?
In a future blog, I want to talk to you about my experience of getting back into writing. I’d like to go over some of my poems, and also take a look at how the blog has been doing so far. I’d never intended to have a blog, this was just supposed to be a way to collate my writing.
I like that I get to talk to you though. Let’s talk more soon.