Sometime in the summer of 2022, the idea of a poetry challenge struck me. How about 100 days of poetry, I asked myself. Crazy? Maybe. Maybe not. I spent a large part of 2022 writing and reading thanks to a research program I was engaged in. I loved the rigorous process; I was building my writing muscle. But I also noticed I hadn’t engaged in creative writing for a long time. That is how I thought this challenge might drive me to write more.
While I had lived many 100 days in my life so far, I had no idea how long 100 days could feel. 100 felt like a large number. I doubted many times if I had what it took to finish the challenge. But all I needed to do was write something – even if it was absolute garbage. I just had to write, and as a sweet surprise, the challenge wrapped up for the 2023 new year. I had planned to write this essay early on but took some time to let the ideas sink in.
Here are five things I learned from writing one poem a day for 100 days from September to December 2022.
Excitement helps you get started, discipline helps you finish.
Starting a project is always fun; the problem is finishing it. I can get started pretty quickly. Ideas and projects hype me up; just as quickly as they get me excited, they also fade away as quickly. I did not want this challenge to fade away. And this meant one thing – write one poem a day. Of course, there were days when I did not write one poem as scheduled, but I made up for it the next day. The goal was to finish. The goal was to show up for 100 days.
Writing is hard work. Therefore the process has to be as easy as possible.
We need to admit this. Writing is hard work. And to make it less hard the process has to be easy and defined. I knew I would fail if I waited for inspiration to strike me every day for 100 days. And so, I decided to gamify the entire process. I created a separate tab on Notion (a note-taking and database app) for the challenge and decided on having ten themes – one for ten days. Each theme had ten sub-themes – one for each day. I started with the first three themes in mind and added more before the next theme was due. On days when I was slacking, I read and reread older poems and brainstormed future themes. I tried to write either in the morning or in the evening as a rule (and a bonus whenever inspiration came along).
It’s about the CLIMB
The Climb by Miley Cyrus has one of my all-time favorite lyrics.
“Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb.”
Today when I look back on the challenge, I realize that the joy was in the process – it is indeed about the climb. I am not sure where these 100 poems will end up or if they will ever find a place beyond my computer, but I am glad they came along the way. I looked forward to writing something every day. And one of the most heartwarming parts of the challenge was (and it still is) the conversations I had about poetry, mostly with friends and family. Some of my friends took on the challenge; some asked me about it every time I met them. I just met not one but two connections a few weeks back (and it’s March 2023, the challenge ended in December 2022) who asked me about the poems and the challenge as we conversed. I felt fuzzy (still feel it) from the inside to know people cared.
The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on. —Louis L’Amour
Some poems were crap. Some were not-so-crap. Some I love; some I don’t want to look at for maybe a few months, if not years. Some make me cringe, and some I am glad I was able to write. To reach the good ones, I had to get through the not-so-good ones. The faucet must be turned on to get the water. And the water that flows might not be crystal clear, but to get to the clear water, I had to keep the faucet on, and I had to keep writing.
Keeping promises makes you stronger.
The idea of commitment helping us grow was something I heard from motivational speaker Rajdeep Manwani’s keynote at Citation 2018 (the annual conference of Toastmasters in Nepal). And I can vouch for it. It did make me grow. I feel good about being able to complete the challenge, and it gives me more confidence to try other things. I can be better assured now that I can reach the finish line.
You can find some of the poems from the challenge here.
Hi there, this is Alfa. I run this blog out of sheer passion and love for art. If you found this post useful, do follow the blog. You can also follow on instagram @thewordcastle.
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