Last week, I posted the guidelines for the 2017 April PAD Challenge, which will start at the end of this week. This will be my 10th time through, so I thought I’d share some tips on how to get through a month of daily poeming.
Revision doesn’t have to be a chore–something that should be done after the excitement of composing the first draft. Rather, it’s an extension of the creation process!
In the 48-minute tutorial video Re-creating Poetry: How to Revise Poems, poets will be inspired with several ways to re-create their poems with the help of seven revision filters that they can turn to again and again.
Consider Different Approaches
For each prompt, there’s a new poem to write. In fact, several poets over the years have shown there are often dozens of poems they can write from just one day’s prompt. So the first thing I like to do after encountering a new prompt is to consider different approaches I could take for the prompt.
For instance, the prompt might be to write a scary poem. Of course, I could write a straight up scary poem, and that would be fine. But it’s possible to write a humorous poem that includes horror elements. Or write a poem that’s scary, but maybe not in the traditional sense of zombies, vampires, or killer clowns. Instead, it might be food safety or a strange phobia.
Outside of considering different subject approaches, I also like to consider form for a moment. Do I want to write a poem that rhymes? Or would I rather go all free verse (or even prose) and figure out structure later? Sometimes when I’m not sure, I’ll just pick a traditional poetic form and use the constraints of the form to help me figure out which direction to take my poem.
I like to take a minute or three to consider different approaches, because I’m a busy guy. After that, I just write. No worrying about publication, what everyone’s going to think when they open the day’s prompt and poem example, or really anything other than writing until the first draft is done.
For me, the goal is not to write a Best American Poem each time I sit down; it’s merely to create and see where that takes me. Often, I come to a poem with certain ideas and through the process of creating I find myself somewhere new. And it’s not unusual for those first drafts to kick me into a new poem that’s going somewhere else completely.
I firmly believe that poems beget poems. So don’t worry about being perfect; just write!
And yes, have fun. Let me say it again: Have fun!
If you miss a day or three of the challenge, that’s fine. Don’t stress out. If your poem isn’t highlighted as a top poem of the month, that’s fine. Hundreds (if not thousands) of poems written specifically for the April PAD Challenge have been published over the past 9 years; not all of them were named top poems of the month.
Instead of stressing over that stuff, seriously, just have fun. Write. Create. Experiment. Enjoy the process of writing and writing with others who are enjoying the process of writing.
One last time: Have fun!
Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He’s a featured poet at the 2017 Austin International Poetry Festival (April 6-9) and is about to start his 10th year of prompting poets to poem on Poetic Asides beginning on Saturday morning.
Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.
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