Poetry Action Plan 2018

Next year will be 10 years of the Poetry Action Plan! Even in the years when I didn’t think it would help, it did.

A Poetry Action Plan, or PAP, is a road map for how to think about your writing life. There are four steps to creating a plan. To sum it up:

  1. Define your goals. What is most important to you as a writer.
  2. Be realistic about what can you achieve.
  3. Track your progress.
  4. Prepare for setbacks BUT be open to opportunities wherever they appear.

And if I had to add a fifth step, I’d say don’t be too hard on yourself for not accomplishing a goal.

Last year, after dealing with the death of my ex-husband at the end of 2016, I was just trying to stay above water. We were used to our little system of pick ups and drop offs. And while I never thought I had enough time, I really missed (and still miss), the balance of another parent, for everything from child care to having another voice in the room. But I managed, somehow, to get a few things done.

Some tasks could have done better. Even though I veered off my list (see Stress List), I still had a pretty good year (see Brag List).

My 2017 List:

  • Write a poem a week: I wrote 45 poems. It happened in spurts when I wrote a poem a day. Many of them are trash, so quality does not equal quantity.
  • Send out a submission once a week. I did not submit one poem in 2017. Not. One. (Here’s where being kind to myself matters.)
  • Only take on writing projects that have meaning for me. This I did do, and I think the quality of the projects I took on made a difference. I don’t have to accept every offer that comes my way. Makes a real difference when deciding how best to spend my time.
  • Yoga! Nope. (Y’know, yoga has been on my list for two years. I think I should take it off and op for something else.)

What works best for me are some hard and squishy goals. I do better with hard numbers and some that are more subjective.

In 2018, I will:

  • Write a poem a week. Even if I write in them in batches, it’s still a good goal to have.
  • Submit to eight top-tier journals. I’m swinging for the rafters. Now I thought about submitting to a new journal a week but I'm going for quality over quantity. 
  • Help my third book find a wider audience. Rewilding will be released in November, so I’m starting marking and promotion now. The real challenge comes from not overextending myself. I need to find new opportunities, which makes the whole process worthwhile. Otherwise, it’s not worth it to be away from my family.
  • Swim! 
If you're curious, here's my PAPs for 2017 and 2016.

Good luck with your PAP!


Dear January, Wishing you a better 2018! With hugs and love.
Sean Wright said…
Hey January,

I heard about the PAP on another tour members blog. I did something very similar (same structure different terms) in 2016. I concur with everything on your plan, it works. Oh and being kind to yourself - a thousand times yes. Wish I'd found yours and other tour members blogs a couple of years ago.
ren powell said…
I hear you regarding the submissions. I promised myself that for 2017, too. I submitted a single poem. I've made a pretty grid on paper this year - hoping a visual tracking system in my face every day will help me remember it matters to me.
January said…
Hugs, Jeannine! Wishing you lots of poetry in 2018.
January said…
Sean, I can't believe we're still doing this 10 years later. But glad you've caught up with us now.
January said…
Ren, I have a grid, too. Time to dust it off and submit. Happy 2018!
Anonymous said…
I think I sent work to only five or six journals, January. 2016 was hard for me too, because my father died. And then the elections happened...

I like your open ended goals and the added goal of being kind to ourselves. You have accomplished so much in the last ten years, all while working and raising your family.

I'm so glad we are rekindling our blogosphere!

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