Now, for this month's topic: pressure-free creativity.
After attending the SCBWI Marvelous Midwest Conference in May, I decided to try a new approach to my work-in-progress: revising the project to incorporate poetry. But I kept procrastinating on the revision. I blamed my lack of progress on needing to prepare and give so many talks this spring and summer. Then, about two weeks ago, I realized that what was really hold me back was fear.
I talked about Fear & Creativity in general, and my fears regarding this project in particular, back in my November 2018 newsletter. After sending that newsletter, I managed to overcome my fears and begin moving forward on my work-in-progress--until I attended the conference. Sadly, I learned there that the approach I'd been taking was unlikely to result in a manuscript that would interest a traditional publisher. My odds for success would be better with a poetry-centered approach I'd considered in the past, so I decided to go back to that idea.
Not long after I decided to return to the poetry idea, though, a new fear reared it's ugly head: the fear that I’m not a "good enough" poet to make the revision work.
Ironically, poetry-writing was my first love, from my junior high school days. My first published piece was a seven-line poem that appeared in an anthology of works by Chicago school students. I'll never forget the thrill I felt at seeing that poem in print, and I still have a copy of that book.
So this time, when fear threatened to paralyze me, I realized I needed to take a break from my work-in-progress to focus on recapturing my love of poetry. I began by reading a poem a day. I'm working my way through 99 Poems by Dana Gioia (Graywolf Press). I don't just read the poems, I study them, copying out the lines that intrigue me most. I'm also re-reading Poetry Matters: Writing a Poem from the Inside Out by Ralph Fletcher (HarperCollins). Fletcher's book is actually intended for 8-12 year-olds, but that's one of the reasons I find the book so helpful. As the School Library Journal reviewer said, it's a "concise, nuts-and-bolts guide to creating poetry."