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Preparing for Napowrimo: A brief guide on how to tackle the writing challenge

What is Napowrimo?

Created by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month (Napowrimo) is the largest literary celebration in the world. To celebrate this month-long holiday, we offer to you a series of daily writing prompts to inspire your creative endeavours.

If you choose to take this journey with us, we want to ensure it is a fruitful experience as well as an opportunity for mindfulness and fun through creativity, rather than a strict target-driven agenda.

Why take part in Napowrimo?

Writing a bit every day is great for facilitating an outpour of creativity. We hope that sharing these prompts will encourage the creative force within you to find a form within the physical world, opposed to just swirling around untapped within your mind. Plus, its beneficial to stretch out that ole’ creative muscle. It might feel a bit stiff at first (especially if it hasn’t been used in a while) but through steady use it can become stronger and more flexible. The more you write… the more you write!

We hope these daily tasks can encourage a few mindful minutes, a small respite from life’s daily stresses. Studies show that “finding ways to encourage everyday creative activities could lead directly to increased well-being.” (J.Silvia 2018) It’s nice to practice making a bit of time for yourself to express your inner world, as its good self-care practice. Benchmarking a portion of your daily routine for your creative time can mean that it becomes habit, and you will naturally be more inclined to honour space for your practice.

It can also help build confidence in writing and be validating to feel like you have stuck with something and achieved a goal. The cognitive effect of completing a goal, can be a small step to completing other goals, because its proving that you can do something. We hope the feeling of achievement from writing each poem can help encourage self-esteem!

We can let you in to a secret…these poems are allowed to be rubbish. They don’t have to be perfect or professional- or even fully formed! Maybe some days you choose to sketch or mind map the prompt rather than fully flesh out a poem. That same 2018 study mentioned earlier, emphasises how it’s not just “masterworks of art” that increase wellbeing, making stuff in general makes us feel good, regardless of how perfect the finished product is. The Pressure of perfection can interrupt flow and fun- so remember- it’s okay if it’s not ground-breaking or beautiful. This is an exercise of creativity, not a contest or a graded assignment. And hey, if you can release a bit of this pressure- you might even prefer the poems you come out with when you’re less harsh to yourself.

Who can take part in Napowrimo?

This is for everyone, whether you are a seasoned poet or an absolute beginner!

How do I do Napowrimo? (Neurodivergent friendly!)

As for the actual poetry writing, some like to keep their work to themselves, and some like to post about it. It’s up to you. For some, posting online may help keep them up to date on their goal, but for some that can encourage that dreaded perfection pressure we mentioned earlier. How you take this journey is totally in your control. You can even just think it in your head instead of writing it down. You could say a poem aloud or sing it in the shower. You can write it down and burn the paper. You can trace words in the dirt and let the rain wash away any sign it ever existed. As much as we would love to see your work, you don’t even have to show anyone if you don’t feel comfortable. This is for you, this is an act of self-actualisation and development. You can make it and let go of your emotional attachment in an act of catharsis. Or, show it your mates and splash it over Instagram feeling proud of your work, spreading that inspiration around. This is your path, take it as you please. Find your groove!

One suggestions is that you could make your own little list to tick off completed days (even a sticker chart if you’re feeling snazzy!) Little wins, like ticking off a box, make our brains release dopamine, a chemical connected with motivation and pleasure. Checking boxes can help you attribute positive feelings to the task, encouraging people to stay on their goal. Each box crossed is a reminder of your achievement and a proof of your effort. We want to encourage you to feel accomplished and proud after tick. Little rewards are great for keeping momentum up, especially so for some neuro-divergent people. Plus, you deserve the satisfaction. And who doesn’t love crossing off things!!

Where do I do Napowrimo?

Do this when and where you feel! That being said, having a certain place, time and/or notebook, if possible, may help you keep in the habit and help you to remember, like there’s the special space in the day that we gift ourselves with the time to create. Each to their own, but this is quite useful for people who struggle with keeping up a habit, especially for some people with ADHD. Having a certain environment can help put us in a specific mindset and put us in the mood to do some making!!! Whoop!

When to do Napowrimo?

If you miss some days, you don’t have to have it all done by the 30th. Journeys don’t have to have set dates to be worthwhile. Take your time if that’s what you need. Maybe one day’s prompt isn’t your vibe, skip it or make up your own! Try not to be too hard on yourself (easier said than done I know) this is just for fun. There are purposely no real rules to this, just a guide you can follow at your leisure. Flow through it as you feel.

And finally, we want to strongly emphasise YOU DON’T HAVE TO FINISH THE 30 DAYS!!!! If you lose motivation, don’t have the time or energy- or just forget, THAT IS OKAY. There is value in trying. Your worth doesn’t equate your ability to complete things. Even just doing one prompt is getting the creative cogs going. Try to be gentle with yourself. Here’s a great article emphasising the importance of self-compassion over the act of doing tasks “true self-care must prioritize self-compassion.” The article is written for people with ADHD, but its message is true for everyone!

So whether you follow diligently, float through them when you fancy it, or stop after the first day, we hope that our prompts can help you take some time for yourself, encourage your flow of creativity, and light an inner spark.

Be sure to follow Fawn press Instagram with notifications on for the prompts release on the 1st. If you feel like sharing online- please tag us so we can see your creations! We will be sharing tagged poems on our story and our favs on our main feed at the end of the month.

We will also be posting prompt themed images daily on our story, if you are in need of a little extra inspiration (or a helpful reminder!)

Have fun!

Terra Cotta x

Tamlin S. Conner, Colin G. DeYoung & Paul J. Silvia (2018) Everyday creative activity as a path to flourishing, The Journal of Positive Psychology, 13:2, 181-189

By Kate Fraser-Medcalf, BSc dip.Couns(MBACP) March 1, 2022