Most of my friends know this on Facebook, but I’m not sure how many people outside of there know it, so here goes:
I write at least one good poem every single day.
Now, by that I do not mean that I believe every single thing that comes out of my fingers and is poetry is good. What I mean is that I hold myself to the standard of writing at least one good poem a day. If I sit down and write a poem, and it sucks to the point that I can’t even make it not suck by changing around words in it, I delete it and start over. Rinse, repeat, for as long as it takes for a good poem to come out of me.
You probably have an image in your head of me obsessively writing poems all day long, maybe amidst a sea of crumpled up papers.
That could not be further from the truth. I would say that 95% of the time or maybe even higher, I bang a good poem out in one shot.
This is somewhat due to the fact that I’ve been doing this for quite a while now. I began this journey on September, 26th, 2014, and since then I’ve written over 1,200 poems. (1,217 to be exact—as of the writing of this blog post.)
Two years and change might not seem like ‘quite a while’, but when you’re forcing yourself to write one good poem every single day, it’s damn sure quite a while. At this point, it feels like I’ve been doing it my whole life.
I should mention though that I have been writing poetry ever since I was about 13 years old, so this isn’t a form of writing I just picked up. But, I wrote poetry very sparingly over those many years, and the quality was inconsistent. Like most creatives, I waited for ‘inspiration’ to strike me—which is to say, mostly I just did other stuff. That was until 2014, when my entire attitude towards creating changed.
In 2014, my mom and best friend in this world was diagnosed out of the blue with Stage 4 breast cancer. She passed away six months after her diagnosis, after a hard-fought battle. I was with her every single day as her caretaker. It was the hardest time of either of our lives.
After that harrowing ordeal, my entire creative philosophy changed. I realized that none of us has any idea how long we have in this world. For all I know, this blog post could be the last thing I ever write. For all you know, this blog post could be the last thing you ever read. Literally all any of us has is the present. We aren’t even guaranteed one second from now. All we have is this.
For me, as a creative, to spend even a single day of my life not creating suddenly felt like a complete and utter waste of time. That feeling hasn’t shaken from me yet, and I hope it never will, because I have created more and better creative work in the last two years and change than I have in all the years I’ve spent on this earth prior to that.
In the last two years or so, I have written and published seven books of poetry, one novel, one book of ten short stories, and one novella. That’s 10 written and published works. And it’s all because of deciding to write one good poem every night, and holding to it.
Holding myself to at least one good poem every day was my way of reconnecting with my muse, which up until then I’d had a rocky, on-and-off relationship with at best. Most artists do. They booty call their muse once every few weeks, if that, and expect her to be instantly willing and in the mood, which she often isn’t. (And can you blame her?) I didn’t want that anymore. I wanted a serious, committed relationship, which is what she has always wanted, and has always deserved.
So, every day (or rather, every night—I write my poems before bed) I showed up and wrote a poem. And right away she could sense a true difference in me, because what came out was great. The best poem I had ever written. (You can read it in my first poetry book, Legitimate Forms of Cum. It’s the first poem in there.)
We’ve been inseparable ever since. And on top of that ritual, whenever I am writing a novel or a short story or a novella, I force myself to write at least one page of it a day, on top of writing one good poem. (Notice I didn’t say one good page a day—novels are they’re own beast, and I’ll talk more about them in another blog post.)
This has worked wonders for me, and I know it can work wonders for anyone. I believe that this ritual can help anyone who wants to accelerate the quantity and quality of their creative writing. Just start slow—a poem a day—and then you’ll start doing more and more creative writing as well, and it’ll flow great and be great. It has absolutely changed my life, and the lives of friends who have taken me up on it.
To those of you who have perhaps never written poetry before if your life, I’d say don’t even hold yourself to one good poem a day. Just write a poem a day. Hold yourself to just that bit of diligence, and you will get better over time and a voice will emerge and all that.
In closing, here’s the poem I wrote today. It will be in my upcoming poetry book, due out sometime in the Spring or Summer of this year: