01/10/19

No poem today.
Because my weak words are failing describe emotions too intense for my mind to comprehend.
I’m sure that I must be dying.

Blog: A little break/Writing difficult poems

A little break

It’s been a little while since I’ve finished a poem.

It wasn’t entirely intentional to take a break but it was probably overdue.
I’ve managed to post at least one poem every single day from 25th December – 8th February.

That’s 49 poems in 46 days. I’m pretty happy with that.

The break was good. I’ve loved writing poems but I started to get a bit too focused on the blogging side of it. It’s so encouraging and validating to see people reading and enjoying my work– I love it. Thank you. It’s also a little bit addictive; it’s easy to obsess over the numbers.
Having such a high output is also incredibly time-consuming, especially because I record myself reading all of my poems to you (which I also love doing). Whilst it was magical staying up until 4am to ride a wave of creativity and inspiration, it’s not a sustainable way for poor sad Saba to live.

I’m going to try and post regularly, but less frequently. Maybe every other day? We’ll see how it goes.

Difficult poems 

This week, I’ve been trying to write difficult poems.
Not difficult in terms of the subject matter, but poems that haven’t quite worked in the last 46 days. Poems that have sat in my phone notes unfinished; one-line fragments that have taken up whole pages of notebooks; words which just wouldn’t cooperate.
Now, every time I go to write, I’m confronted by the corpses of poems that didn’t make it. Harrowing is too strong a word, but its at least a little disheartening.

I need to purge myself of these poems.

I’m having a hard time getting these poems out but here are my main tactics:

1. Get everything in one place
There are little shards of poems scattered all over the place. You’re tripping over them and every time you do it reminds you of a poem you weren’t able to finish. This makes you feel not good.
Collect your ideas in one place where they are safe. Put them somewhere that you can easily go back to and where you’re best able to work with them.
I’m going to type mine up on my laptop.

2. Take a look at the bigger picture
Zoom out of your fragments of poetry and see what they look like. Are there any key themes? Do any of them tie in together? It’s likely that at least a few of these fragments want to be together in one poem. Maybe that poem has been writing itself over weeks. Take some time to review all of your ideas together.

3. Why has it been so difficult?
Now take a closer look at each line and ask yourself why these poems have been so difficult to write. Maybe the ideas aren’t ripe enough; maybe they don’t feel authentic enough;  maybe you don’t really have that much to say on the topic. Remind yourself that it’s okay to discard ideas. You don’t have to write things that don’t excite you– what would that achieve? As much as you want to write, forcing things will just make you fall out of love with what you’re doing.

4. Just write
In the spirit of Bad Poetry, sometimes you’ve got to stop being so precious about your ideas and just write. Beautiful things happen when you allow yourself to write without judgement. Maybe you’ll write something great, maybe you’ll write something awful– at least you will have written. You’ll feel good. Work through your ideas for now. If you don’t get things quite how you’d like them, you can always come back to them in the future.

Part of the aim of this blog post was to get used to writing again– a little warm up. Now I’m going to carry on with my ‘difficult poems’.
Actually, let’s not make them difficult poems any more. They’ll just be poems. I hope to have some for you to read/listen to this coming week.

Good luck Saba, you’ll be great.

[17/02/19]

Blog: How I started writing again– “Bad Poetry Reverse Advent”

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.

Bonus blog: Some background information

I didn’t know that I could write poems.

I knew that I loved poems before I knew what a poem was, but I didn’t know that I could write them.

I first knowingly wrote a poem when I was seventeen and was told that I was quite good at it. I entered a few competitions and did quite well. Within a few months, I’d written a handful of decent-ish poems. Decent enough.

I wasn’t very happy at that time of my life.
I was struggling a lot. I tried, more than once, to find help but it didn’t ever work out. I felt things far too deeply and had somehow become numb to feeling at the same time.

Writing poetry wasn’t an outlet for me; it was pressure.
It was me, by myself, thinking about myself. Surrounded by myself. And I did not want to be myself. I didn’t want to be anyone. I didn’t want to think.
After those few months, aged seventeen, I stopped writing.

Life got harder, problems became bigger, and escalated to a point where myself and those around me could not ignore them.

Slowly, more recently, life got better.
Aged twenty-four, I wanted to get more involved in poetry again. I remembered that I had loved it. I remembered how to love it.
I started going to open mic nights. Sometimes I thought they were silly, but I always adored them.

I still couldn’t write. There was too much in my head and I didn’t want to listen to it. I didn’t want to sift through it; I didn’t want to organise it; I didn’t want to beautify it.

Now, aged twenty five and a half, I am writing poems again.
For the first time since I was seventeen.
I am still struggling but life is the best it has been. I am the me-est me I have been.
I don’t feel strong everyday, but everyday I do know that I am.

I am enjoying this.
I don’t know how long it will last. I don’t know how many ideas I have left. I don’t know how many ways there are to rearrange the words in my limited vocabulary. I don’t know how I’ll feel in the future. But, for now, I am enjoying this.

I hope that you are enjoying this too.
Thank you for reading, thank you for listening and thank you for your support.

How did I start writing again?
I call it “Bad poetry reverse advent”. It is silly. But, if you like, I’ll tell you about it next time I do one of these blog posts.

Thanks again.

[13/01/19]

Backed up

“You’ve got to get a poem out,” I tell myself in bed.
“Your thoughts are stale, stagnant, and congested in your head.
Your constipated consonants are backing up your bowels.
Your deficiency in assonance: a stomach-full vowels.
Your apathetic rhetoric is sounding rather tired;
Today’s a day to hope and pray that you might be inspired.”

“You’ve got to get a poem out,” I tell myself in bed.
But I’m not sure it works like that, so let me sleep instead.

[29/12/18]