napowrimo #29: i don’t think i can

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)!

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • FriendFeed
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • E-mail this story to a friend!

46 comments to napowrimo #29: i don’t think i can

read write poem news

  • read write poem napowrimo anthology
    June 20, 2010 | 1:36 pm

    The Read Write Poem NaPoWriMo Anthology is still in production. Selection, placement, layout and copyediting are taking longer than anticipated. Thank you for your patience. I hope to have the piece completed in July. For those who have emailed asking if they can be included, the May 7 deadline for submission of work stands. Those who met that deadline will be included. Please check the post on this site listing who I received submissions from by that date. If you submitted your work by the May 7 deadline in accordance with our guidelines and your name is not listed, send an email to info (at) readwritepoem (dot) org.

  • read write poem napowrimo anthology
    May 5, 2010 | 3:09 pm

    Remember that Friday* is the deadline for submitting work to the Read Write Poem NaPoWriMo Anthology. Check out the guidelines for submission in the main column (to the left). On May 8, we’ll post a news item listing everyone we’ve received work from. If you submitted work and your name is not on that list, please let us know. Thanks!

    *I initially said “tomorrow,” but I meant to say “Friday.”

  • napowrimo congratulations, and a reminder
    April 24, 2010 | 12:05 pm

    It’s the final week of the Read Write Poem NaPoWriMo Challenge! Just 7 days left. With that, a reminder that Read Write Poem will culminate with the anthology featuring work from those who complete the challenge. A post with details for submitting to the anthology will be published May 1. Be sure you remove any information from the site that you want preserved — such as group content and personal messages. Those elements of the site will be removed May 1 as well. The main site will remain up as an archive.

  • ‘underlife’ tour at january gill o’neil’s blog
    April 20, 2010 | 8:11 pm

    January Gill O’Neil’s virtual book tour has moved to her site and is underway now. Check out the lineup at Poet Mom.

  • RSSArchive for read write poem news »