Reflections on Inktober and OctPoWriMo

ReclaimingWell, October was a quite a month, creatively.

I’ve never attempted more than one challenge at a time before.  Moreover, I’d never attempted something that wasn’t a writing challenge before, and this October saw me do both (this was a really special month, you guys).

OctPoWriMo was not a wellspring of expertly crafted poetry.  I was not fond of many of the suggested forms, but because of time constraints, and because of the lingering funk I was in when it came to creativity, I opted in to many of the suggested forms and prompts, even when I didn’t love them.  I’d argue that was good for me; it forced me to be okay with what I considered to be sub-optimal writing — it kind of gave me permission to create something not up to my nearly impossible standards.

In the end, I produced thirty-one poems, a few (very few, but still – a few) of which I am very happy with just as they are — Blue,  Are We Damned?, Here There Are Trees, and A Doe in the Woods come most readily to mind — and several others that I think would be good with some work — Siren, Snake, How Do You Know if Love is Real?, and both of the haibuns fall easily into this category.

The poems that fell entirely flat (to me, at least), are the ones whose forms seem the most “gimmicky;” the blitz, for one, never truly felt like writing poetry (though, as I’ve said several times, I wouldn’t discount it as a writing or brainstorming exercise), and many of the non-traditional syllable counting poems didn’t come out as well as I’d hoped.  Rather than count this as a failure, though, I’d like to walk away considering this a learning experience for me as a writer, discovering and uncovering a little more about what works for me (and what doesn’t) as a poet and writer.

What Inktober did, though, was interesting.  I jumped on Inktober more or less on a whim, because I have never, ever, considered myself a visual artist.  I’ve always liked doodling, but my drawings rarely ventured into more elaborate territory.  People would sometimes compliment a drawing I’d done, but it never went beyond that — I never defined myself as an artist the way I did as a writer.  As a result, I went into Inktober with no expectations — or, maybe the expectation of sucking.  And because I assumed I’d suck — because I “wasn’t an artist” — every time my drawings came out with even an inkling of potential promise, it was a huge, positive surprise which kept me motivated to keep with it.

And at the end of thirty-one days, while I still have a long, longlong way to go, I can see very plainly that the stuff I’ve been producing sucks a little less.  That giving myself permission to not be great and keep going anyway actually lead to me getting better.

I’m am spending my creative energies in November doing NaNoWriMo, as I have almost every year since 2002, and taking a break from (structured, challenge-based) creative endeavors in December (working on lowkey, low pressure personal projects) before jumping back in for another challenge in January.

In retrospect, even if I’ve not been thrilled with the all of the products of my labors in October, I’m proud of hanging in there and producing.  And whether or not I win NaNo, and whether or not I reach 50k, I’m hoping to at least see it through day by day and word by word.

Here’s to a productive November, a recuperative December, and a creatively fulfilling 2019.

Friday, Fri-yay: October 5th, 2018

& (1)So, I think I’d feel worse about being “behind” on OctPoWriMo if I was actually behind on OctPoWriMo, but I’ve actually been working on some poems — I just haven’t been able to pull them completely together yet.  Tomorrow I’ll probably write up three separate posts for each of the entries (the two backlogged poems, plus tomorrow’s entry proper) but get myself back on track.  Weirdly, Inktober, which I expected to be so much harder, has been going really well.  Maybe because I’ve never, ever identified myself as a visual artist, and my expectations are lower?  Anyway.  This is a Fri-yay post!  Let’s yay!

Number One can be that Inktober is going well!!  I’m not a good artist, but I at least find myself sitting down and working on something everyday, and honestly, I’m discovering I’m actually not as hopelessly terrible as I thought, and maybe — through daily practice, even in short exercises — I can actually get better.

Number Two, The Good Place is back!  This actually should have been posted last week, but uhh, I fell off the bandwagon a little with posting lately (and so much else, but that’s another post).  We just finished episode three, and it is so refreshing to be watching a show where I look forward to speculation, but don’t want concrete, long-range spoilers.  I love that this show can surprise me, and that literally any plot twist feels very genuinely on the table.  Also, this show is a multishipper’s dream come true.

Number Three, I have a three day weekend with no plans!  I will probably clean, catch up on poetry, and online shop, which leads me into Number Four…

…It is the first week in October and I am about halfway done my Christmas shopping!  Which probably sounds crazy to some of you, but I’m so, so sick of agonizing over what to do and what to get, and I always wind up waiting until the last minute, and the holiday devolves into a stress-fest, and no thank you.  I love Christmas, and I have a young son; the holidays should be a fun, festive, relaxing time.  If I can be proactive about making that happen, I will be.

Number Five, I saw Hamilton last week!  I honestly don’t even know what to say.  The whole evening felt like a throwback to my theatre-geek high school days, where my friends and I (we went with my best friend and her boyfriend) get dressed, go to dinner, have a sleepover, go out to brunch — you know, we make the night An Event.  I feel like that doesn’t happen often anymore.  We all took the day following the show off, and went out for brunch at an Irish restaurant near our house, and it was damn near perfect.  The show itself was stunning, and the perfect culmination to a season of theatre.

What’s been keeping you in good spirits this week?

OctPoWriMo, NaNoWriMo, and Inktober

ReclaimingTomorrow is October 1st – what??  Can you believe it?  After the shortest summer of my life, I feel like the new school year just got underway, and now you’re telling me next week we’re issuing progress reports?  What is even going on?

Anyway, I’m not mad, honestly, because (as we’ve established) fall is one of my favorite times of year, and one of the few times during the year I usually managed to eek out at least a little time to be at least a little creative.  In years past it’s been NaNoWriMo – which I’m doing again this year, though in what capacity (I’m usually a Rebel), I’m not sure – but this year I thought I’d also try my hand at OctPoWriMo, which is October Poetry Writing Month, along with Inktober.*  I know, when I get ambitious I go all out.

Challenges – especially challenges with a set start and end date – tend to work well for me, because they come with an established structure and deadline, and both OctPoWriMo and Inktober have resources that provide you with the opportunities for daily feedback and prompts as well (yet more externally opposed structure and a chance for immediate peer validation?  Yes, please!)

Adding to that, this year my husband expressed interest in participating with OctPoWriMo, which adds an accountability/competitive aspect to it – I don’t want to slack off when I’m up against my husband (yes, I know it’s not actually a competition, but it’s a tiny fire under my ass, so I’ll take it).

I’m excited to start creating, and sharing with you all – I’ll be doing daily-ish updates throughout OctPoWriMo, but I’ll probably just do an end-of-the-month dump for Inktober, since I do intend to do regular posts as well during October, and I have no interest in flooding anybody’s blogroll with my terrible drawings.  Just, on October 31st, they’ll just be here, and you can subject yourself to them at your own discretion.

Who else is participating in any creative challenges this October?



*I’m not an artist – like, I don’t draw, can barely handle stick figures – but I want to.  Inktober will basically be barely decipherable sketches in Sharpie, but I’m hoping it will at least lead to habitual drawing, which might someday lead to me actually getting better.