by Carolee Sherwood
Wednesdays this month, we’ve been trying to give you list-based prompts. Today, I’d like you to do a quick 5-minute free-write on this subject: “I don’t think I can.” Start every sentence in the free-write with “I don’t think I can.” (I don’t think I can write another poem. I don’t think I can live without chocolate. I don’t think I can clean the house before my husband gets home.) Repeat it and repeat it.
Don’t think too much. Move quickly. You’re not trying to craft a poem at this stage. You’re just trying to move fast enough so that your mind accidentally gives up poem clues. You’ve been at this NaPoWriMo thing for a while. Your mind is onto you. You’re going to have to trick it.
Then, you have a couple of choices for writing your poem. The first option is to cross out all the “I don’t think I cans” and see what list of actions you end up with. Do they tell an interesting story? Do they create a small character study? Are they “shoulds”? Are they things you want to do but haven’t? Are they things you’re afraid to try? What if you tried them? You can title your piece “I don’t think I can” or give it a new title that twists the meaning of your list somehow.
The second option is to choose one of the things your list says you can’t do and write an instruction poem describing “how to” do that thing.
You have plowed through NaPoWriMo. Today is Day 29. You can do it!
(You may wonder, “Why bother to write ‘I don’t think I can’ so many times? Isn’t that busy work?” It’s not busy work. You repeat the lead-in to your sentence each time so that your brain gets into a rhythm and so that it resets itself and removes the temptation to get too clever or slow down and think too much. Just keep writing. The first thing that comes to mind: I don’t think I can. And then write down the next thing.)
Note: This month, since we’re all trying to write every day, we’re leaving the comments open with each prompt so you can post links to your poems as you write them. So, go ahead and write your poem, post your poem (with a link to Read Write Poem and a Read Write Poem tag, if you would) and come back to this very spot and share your link with us.
Of course, if you’re a creature of habit, you can always post your links at tomorrow’s “Get Your Poem On” post. Who are we to mess around with what works for you?
And don’t forget to go read the poems of others in this wonderful writing community. We’re all in this NaPoWriMo “mess” (ha ha!) together; let’s support each other in the insanity that is writing (every day)!