During the year of 2020, I made a New Year’s Resolution to write one poem a day for the entire year. It was the first time I fulfilled a resolution in its entirety, and to this date it’s one of my proudest accomplishments. I learned a lot with this project, some good things and some bad.
I would recommend challenging yourself to a similar project, and in this article I would like to relay to you some of the pros and cons of writing a poem a day for a whole year.
Pro: Lots of Poems in Your Portfolio
Once the year came to a close, I had written 366 unique poems (it was a leap year). I didn’t give myself a day off, and that work proved fruitful. Now, if I needed to submit a poem to a competition, I could flip through my archives and fine-tune an appropriate piece instead of starting from scratch.
Con: Little Time to Edit
By writing a poem a day, I spent little time editing the poems. I’d crank out a poem, call it good, and stuff it into a personal file. By the end of the year, I had about 366 first drafts of poems. Going back through to sort through and edit them proved a daunting task — I needed to re-read each one, keep track of what it’s about, what needed to change, and so on.
Pro: Experiment with Form
With so many days to write poems, I could take the time to play around with structure and formats. When I’d be stuck on a subject, I’d apply a structural or rhythmic rule for myself and use that constraint to get my ideas flowing. On busy days, I’d write something short and sweet, and on days with more free time, I could leisurely stretch the words and craft a longer poem.
Believe it or not, there’s a lot of days in a year, and doing the same thing for each day can get pretty tiresome. At the end of the day or after work, I’d be especially tired, so to try and crank out a poem would sometimes become a chore instead of a challenge.
Pro: Discipline and Accomplishment
This proved to be a great way to exercise discipline on myself. Taking the time to write a poem each day helped me train myself to write everyday, so once I finished the poem challenge, I carried the practice over to other projects I was working on. In addition, it felt good to write that many poems — I’d share them with friends on my Instagram, and as my collection grew, I felt I could congratulate myself for working so hard.
Con: Constant Search for New Material
At times, I found myself scrambling for new things to write about. Other times, I’d write a poem then realize it sounded an awful lot like one I’d previously written, so I would rewrite the poem to try and keep it fresh. When you’re working the same job doing the same thing over and over, you have a lot of similar ideas bouncing in your head.
Pro: Notice Small Things
When you’re constantly looking for something to write a poem about, you begin to pick up on little details in the world around you. My awareness of my surroundings grew, and writing the poems as I reflected on the day became an almost meditative practice. Forced repetition pushes you to think outside the box and go beyond your personal boundaries.
I found this project to be quite beneficial to me as a writer, and I plan on doing it again. I might modify the parameters for myself — instead of writing one poem a day, I might work on one poem per week. I’d write the poem on Sunday, then spend the rest of the week rewriting and editing the poem until I reach a finished product on Saturday. Everyone’s process is different, so if you feel inclined to try something like this, go for it.
is a writer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Graduating in May 2020 with a degree in English Literature with a Writing Emphasis, Ian writes comics, poetry, and scripts. He is currently an intern for The Brain Health Magazine and aims to work in the comic publishing industry. In his spare time, Ian plays Dungeons & Dragons, board games, and bass guitar.