By Rebecca Kenny
So - April is upon us, and along with it come showers, Easter and National Poetry Writing Month - or NaPoWriMo for short. Thirty days of writing poems - every. Single. Day. to some, it sounds like Heaven; for others, it's an opportunity to flex those muscles and rise to a difficult challenge.
Loved by poets across the world, NaPoWriMo is an opportunity to experiment, to feel pushed out of a comfort zone, to work towards that collection you've always meant to finish and more - but it can also have its pitfalls. As with any 'challenge' that pops up on social media nowadays, the pressure to post consistently good material can be overwhelming - especially for neurodiverse writers who can struggle with executive functioning and then punish themselves for not managing to complete the tasks.
Bent Key is passionate about poetry, but we aren't passionate about pressure. To help you settle into NaPoWriMo and get the most out of it, we've put together a handy set of reminders to help you navigate the month without feeling overloaded or excessively stressed.
We encourage all of our followers to check out our #bentkeyprompts over on Instagram and Facebook, where you can use the hashtag to be in with a chance of winning a free Bent Key book of your choice - we will be sharing all poems and art to our feed throughout April. However, before you dive in, be sure to read on -
Reminder 1: Try to embrace imperfection.
NaPoWriMo is an opportunity to dive into the creative process; it is the ideal time to try new things. Perhaps there is a new form of poetry you want to work with, or a prompt you'd like to give a go - however, when the aim is to post every day for a month, perfecting your pieces before posting can be tough on the old brain box.
Instead, try to embrace that which is imperfect - share your scribbles instead of poring over background elements in Canva; accept that there will be spelling errors; eat dinner instead of fixating on that single line that's been bugging you all evening. Enjoy the process of creating - because that is what this challenge is all about! We all know that the process is messy, and you will come across all the more authentic for sharing your work, warts and all.
Reminder 2: Keep it simple.
There is often a pressure on the Internet to create the best, brightest, most epic pieces to share on your feed - but sometimes, less can be more! Remember - haiku and limerick forms can be just as beautiful as sonnets and elegies. You don't always need to write lengthy verses; if you come up with a great couplet and are happy with it as is, why punish yourself making it longer? Sometimes, the greatest work you produce is the stuff you put out when you're not overthinking it.
Reminder 3: It is OK to take a break.
Just because it's NaPoWriMo, it doesn't mean you have to post every day. If the day gets on top of you, or you find yourself fresh out of inspiration, don't force it. You can't pour from an empty cup, as the old adage goes - so make sure you take time to rest if you need to. It isn't failing if you are taking the time out to refresh your mind and quench your soul's thirst - look at it instead as a top-up to your creative batteries. You wouldn't go to work if you were sick; don't force yourself to write if you are struggling mentally or physically.
Besides, sometimes the prompts just don't speak to you - and that is OK too. If you don't want to post, don't! And don't feel you have to make apologies, either - you don't.
Reminder 4: Comparison is the thief of joy.
If you write, you're a writer. If you write poems, you're a poet. Simple.
Try not to compare your output over the month with other writers on social media. You aren't them; they aren't you. You'll never be able to produce what they do, and vice versa. The world would be a pretty boring place if we were all the same, right? I can guarantee that there are people out there who go through your feed and feel your words in their soul, whether you think that is the case or not. Try not to get stuck in a cycle of thinking you'd be better if only I was more like... It is the quickest way to make yourself miserable.
Reminder 5: Share, share, share!
You know that feeling you get when someone shares something you've written? Try to give that feeling to other writers throughout the challenge. It's a confidence booster to see someone share your words, and if we all make a commitment to raise someone's work throughout the month, we will all end up feeling pretty damn good about ourselves, right?
This isn't just a challenge for you - it's a community project, and it works best when we are all supporting each other.
Final Reminder: If you're not enjoying it - jib it off!
NaPoWriMo is supposed to be fun. If it isn't fun, it isn't worth doing.
If you feel yourself getting anxious, overloaded, stressed-out, upset or panicked - stop. There is no need to force yourself into a situation where you feel miserable. I promise you, your followers won't mind.
Poetry fans love good poetry; it doesn't need to arrive on a conveyor belt powered by anxiety!
Rebecca Kenny is the founder of Bent Key. She writes about life, love and the mundane bits of existence that make her feel something. You can buy her debut collection Crash & Learn from the Bent Key shop.