When I kicked off 2021, I went into the year knowing I wanted to challenge myself with twelve, monthly themes. In January, I participated in #makedontbreak and created daily art. That time gave me permission to explore new-to-me mediums, helped me build my Deviant Art portfolio, gave me content for my ko-fi, and allowed me to explore what art I enjoy making.
For me, deciding to write #28DaysOfPoetry was a no-brainer. I picked a theme, Into Shadow, and assumed this challenge would yield the same, if not similar, benefits.
I was wrong.
I did (and have) been posting daily poems to my Patreon on a variety of subjects that are grey, if not utterly dark, for me. I even submitted a few poems to markets for the first time since college, too. Outside of that, however, this has been a practice about carving space to write as opposed to discovering something "new"—because writing is my core competency. At times, the daily practice of writing poetry has been a touch exhausting. There's a lot of decisions that go into writing poetry, and that process can be slow. Outside of rhyme and meter, each word and subject is a choice.
I'll give you an example. If you've followed my work, you know I write about magic, mystery, or mayhem—sometimes all three! I don't typically write about politics, for example, but I do have a gnawing fear about who the 47th president will be. Great topic for a poem, right? Except, exploring this in poetry doesn't encapsulate the emotional labor of diving into a subject I loathe. But, that was partly why I took this challenge in the first place.
In many ways, this exercise is helping me figure out what subjects I don't want to write about. This lesson surprised me a bit, because I'm usually so focused on what I can do rather than what doesn't work. It's also a fairly defined and encapsulated exercise—I am not dragging my shadows with me into March, nor is it affecting my other work. If anything, writing poetry gives me a deeper appreciation for word choice and lyrical rhythms.
What's next for me? Well, in March I've decided to tackle a fitness challenge for something completely different. Then, in April I'm participating in a jewelry design challenge. I'm looking forward to them both!
Have you taken on any monthly challenges for your writing? How did it affect you? Your writing? Chime in below!