Every year as November rolls around, I think about joining in the National Novel Writing Month – or NaNoWriMo for short.
The idea is to challenge yourself to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. That’s an average of 1667 words per day. That is quite a challenge to many writers, myself included. On an average day I am generally happy with 500 – 1000 words. On a good day I might stretch this to 1500, and on a fabulous – albeit very rare – day I can even get over 2000. I think my best day was a super 3000 words, but that mean about 10 hours of work.
I considered joining the challenge again this year, but realistically I just don’t have the time with my many responsibilities outside of my writing.
Poem a day
So instead I am going for an easier, softer and far more achievable goal: a poem a day for the month of November. So far I’m on track. I might even publish a few of them here on this site. (The first one appeared here.)
I have done this successfully before. On a six week holiday in Ethiopia, Morocco and Spain we were away for 45 days and I wrote 55 poems. Admittedly, some of them were haiku, but I achieved my goal. And I wrote some great poems as well.
Thought: perhaps I will create a new habit and write a poem every day of the year. Now that’s a challenge I can achieve.
I enjoy the challenge of getting a good photo of many things in nature. One of my minor interests is photos of trees, especially the trunks of trees and in particular those with interesting or arresting colours or patterns made by the bark.
The above eucalypt tree caught my eye while birding in a park near my home some time ago. The colours stunning the bark are quite special. When combined with the light and shadows cast by the sun, this is quite a noteworthy picture in my opinion.
While looking at it the idiom “barking up the wrong tree” came to mind. (For a definition of an idiom click here.) It’s an expression we use, especially here in South Australia, to indicate that we – or another person – is wrong, or misguided in some way. For example, if I was adamant that we had been to a certain restaurant on a certain date, and keep on insisting that this was correct only to find out I was wrong when later my wife produced proof that we were actually interstate on that day, I could be said to have been “barking up the wrong tree.” Plainly, I was wrong.
- Write a story about a time when you were completely wrong.
- Use the expression “barking up the wrong tree” in a short story.
- Have a character in your story use this expression – but incorrectly.
- Write a descriptive piece about how a dog chased a cat up a tree – but kept on barking at the wrong tree.
- Write an imaginative piece explaining how you think this expression was first used.
- Write a poem which is an ode to trees.
We take many things for granted in our world. Most Australians would assume that running water in our home was an essential utility, one we couldn’t do without. We certainly whinge and complain if the water supply is cut off for an hour or two for repairs or for pipeline maintenance. It’s as if someone had cut off our hand.
I took the photo above in the village of Sefrou near Fes in Morocco when we were touring that country a year or so ago. The people of this village had no water piped into their homes. They had to visit the public fountain in the street to gather water for their domestic use, probably several times a day. It is a hardship we in western countries would not tolerate, but for these people it has been a way of life for centuries.
What hardships do you face? Think about aspects of your life which might be a hindrances to you fully realising your desire to write. Is it a difficult family situation? Perhaps illness? Is it an unrewarding job you must maintain to survive? What about that disability?
Write about the things that hinder you from fully realising your potential as a writer. Turn your scribbled notes and ideas into a magazine article, or a short fictional story or even a touching, emotional poem.
On a recent caravanning holiday in the high country of Victoria, Australia, we visited the beautiful town of Bright.
The trees in the district were magnificent, showing numerous colours of autumn.
Writing prompt: write about the colours of autumn in your part of the world. Perhaps a poem describing the colours, or a short story where the leaves of autumn play a significant part of the plot.
The Writers’ Digest magazine is currently promoting a Poem a Day challenge. Participants are encouraged to write a poem every day for the month of April. I think it’s a great idea to get people writing, and they have a writing prompt every day to help you along.
Part of the deal is that the prompt is posted every morning and poets can take it from there, writing whatever the prompt brings to mind. For the brave there is also the opportunity to share your poem on the blog site, inviting others to comment.
A few years ago a fellow poet went on an extensive trip overseas. She told me before leaving that her goal was to write a poem every day during her trip. That seemed like a great idea, so I borrowed the idea when my wife and I travelled Ethiopia (to visit our daughter), Morocco and Spain. We were away for 45 days and I wrote 55 poems so I exceeded my goal. Most of these poems were vignettes of sights we saw, or responses to our many wonderful experiences. The poems ranged in length from haiku through to longer works over 50 lines. It proved to be a very rewarding and creative time. You can read about my travels on Trevor’s Travels. You can also read some of my poetry here.
To find out more about the Poem A Day Challenge click here.