Today is the last day to complete a full draft of a prose piece six hundred words or less, or a poem of thirty lines or less, in response to prompt 1: The Death Tarot Card and Writing About Endings. If you did get a draft out of this exercise, feel free to email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Prompt 1 Response” so we can swap and give each other feedback. Leave a comment here letting me know that you sent it so I can make sure it doesn’t get lost in my spam.
I’ll admit: I put off working on this draft for a while. As in, until Wednesday night when I finally told myself I couldn’t watch this week’s episode of the Bachelor until I did so (also email me if you want to discuss this season). As I’ve said here before, writing is hard. Everyone knows that. Before this draft, I’m not certain when I most recently sat down and consciously decided to write an entire draft of a poem. Sure, I’ve gotten a handful started–the first stanza or two that’d been floating around in my head finally down in a Word doc. But, once I get past that initial point of ease, I usually get anxious, overwhelmed, and disappointed in myself. Thus, abandoning the project for another day, which still has yet to come for many of these half-drafts. Anyone who’s ever seriously tried to write is probably familiar with this phenomenon.
But I made a goal to write a full draft in response to a prompt every other week, and then I put that goal on the internet for all to see, so now I have to do it (a post with my all my goals for 2019, writing and otherwise, is upcoming for later this week). And, predictably, it was hard. I’m out of practice, and, too be honest, I sometimes feel like I’m out of ideas (another reason why I love prompts). But one thing I do often to trick myself into productivity is tell myself, Just do it for three minutes. I put on a timer, minimize all of my other windows and tabs, turn off the TV, and write (or work, or clean, etc.–you can do this with most anything) nonstop for three minutes, not caring about whether what I put down on the page is “good” or “bad.” Nine out of ten times this works. I may not keep every–or even any–thing I write during those three minutes, but it usually sparks momentum into an idea or an image that I end up exploring for four minutes, ten.
Once I had somewhat of an idea on what kind of ending I wanted to write about (a breakup and a bad habit, it turned out), I set my timer and got to work. Normally for me thirty lines of a poem is a lot. I tend to write medium- to small-sized poems, around fifteen lines. With this prompt though, I got to stanza four and went, Wait, I just had to scroll down on the page. How many lines am I at? I was at twenty-four then, and finished at an even thirty. Though, I think in my revisions I’ll find I have about one more good stanza to go. And I even like what I wrote (for the most part)!
I’ll be honest, I was expecting to hate this prompt. Well, not the prompt, but the result of it. My first full draft in a while I was pretty sure was going to go poorly. And, of course, I’m glad to have gotten over the initial anxiety that had me putting this off, which was my aim in the first place more than draft, even. Just the fact that I came out of this with a draft I’m mostly happy with an unexpected bonus.
I will say though, it was a tough one to write. At least two other people that I know of having worked on this prompt had a good little cry session while writing, in addition to myself. Hopefully the next prompt won’t result in quite so much soul-baring, but I can’t make any promises. If you have any prompt suggestions for the future, I’d love to hear them. And again, if you wrote to this prompt, I’d love to see your results and share mine, too.
Prompt 2 will be going up March 14. In the meantime, I’ll be revising this draft and revisiting at least one of those old half-drafts floating around in my Evernote.