Monday, December 31, 2012

Poetry Action Plan 2013

Goodbye 2012. Hello, 2013!

Next to summer, this is my favorite time of year. It’s a time when all of us reflect on the year that was, looking toward the year that will be. Everyone pulls backs, takes stock, and moves forward with purpose. We put our best foot forward. We all, literally, have the best intentions.

A few years ago, I gave my writing goals a real value. My Poetry Action Plan (PAP) was (is) my attempt to structure my writing goals so that the goals become habit. The plan is flexible enough to change as my life changes.

Here are a few tips on you can create your own PAP.

  • Define your goals. What is most important to you as a writer? Is it practicing your craft? Do you want to read your work in public? Is this the year you finally complete your manuscript? Whatever it is, name it, claim it, and put it at the top of your list. 
  • Be realistic about what can you achieve. Having a focus is essential. Pick four or five goals and stick to them. 
  • Track your progress. It’s one thing to make goals, and another to keep them. List items you can quantify so you can gain momentum as you reach your next goal (ex. submit to 25 journals, write two poems a month, etc.). 
  • Prepare for setbacks BUT be open to opportunities wherever they appear. Small acts, such as jotting down a word or phrase or mailing one submission to one publication, will keep you moving forward through times of uncertainty. 

In 2012, my goals were to:

Write a Poem a Week
I wrote 40 poems instead of 52. I’m disappointed about that, but I am considering these poems the basis of manuscript #3.

Read a Book a Month
Poetry, yes. Other genres, not so much. However, because I’m teaching, I am reading more short fiction, which I value as much as reading a novel.

Support the Massachusetts Poetry Festival

Start Manuscript #3
I feel like I indirectly backed into this goal by writing a number of poems this year. I didn’t flesh out what I wanted to do. Didn’t do any research on the topic of race relations in 1960s Boston, didn’t make those connections to my life now. But, having written so many poems toward a manuscript, I can now see what’s missing. The task doesn’t seem so big.

Attend a Weeklong Workshop
I put all my eggs into attending a class at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, but I didn’t find a workshop that fit into my summer schedule and budget. Also, I didn’t get into Bread Loaf. But the truth is I didn’t apply anywhere else beyond that. I need to research and widen my scope. It’s clear that I need a week to myself so I can work uninterrupted.

So in thinking about my 2013 goals, the overriding principle guiding my goals is to be kind to myself. In the past, my philosophy has been to maintain a kind of balance throughout the year. But being a single mother and raising two kids who require more of my time that ever before, I’ve learned that there is no such thing as balance. I have to forgive myself for falling short. I have to accept the limitations of time and energy and work around all the things that keep me from writing.

And I’m willing to do that. Getting up at 4 a.m. to write or getting away for an hour at Starbucks may be the best that I can do for a while. That’s OK. I will still get to where I want to go.

In 2013, my goals are to:

Write a Poem a Week
The writing comes first, no matter what.

Publish Poems in 12 Publications 
I haven’t done much with submissions. Not even sure what poems I have out there working for me. But it’s time to serious about print and online publications.

Complete Manuscript #3
I want to create an arc that ties the past to the present. I’ve decided not to push it through but use this time of thoughtful reflection as an opportunity to learn about myself, my surroundings, and my history. That being said, it would be great to have all the manuscript poems completed by July so I can focus on revision.

Attend a Weeklong Workshop
I have to make this one happen during the summer. Fingers crossed. I will take on four goals in the new year instead of five. I rather complete four goals instead of almost finishing five.

Hope you can use the PAP as you map out your own path in 2013. Don’t forget that your plan is flexible and can change as your life changes. Good luck, and Happy New Year!!


Cindy Veach said...

You're inspirational! Happy New Year! said...

I love this, January. I'm going to share your suggestions over on my blog, as well as use them to create my own plan. I've never been very diligent about making my writing habitual, just writing and jotting down thoughts whenever the muse strikes. Good to you, your children, and extended family in 2013!

evelyn.n.alfred said...

This is a great idea.


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