Monday, April 15, 2013

NaPoWriMo Week Three - Time is on Your Side

The trail seems long when you are in the middle.
"On A Quest" by Ehecod
Week Three of NaPoWriMo is always the hardest week of the month.  Two thoughts come to mind - first, that the middle of the trip always seems the longest part, and second, that time limits can seem so restrictive.  But time is on our side in this month-long quest.  That's because with a limit in mind, we know that there will come a time of rest.  We know that our journey will eventually end, and then we can put down the pen (for a short time) and bask in the glory of our accomplishment.

For inspiration and more insight into our themes of journeys and time limits, we have this compelling piece of art: "On A Quest" by Ehecod on  It depicts a scene that certainly appeals to me right now - a small person, a long path, and in the distance there is perhaps the end of the trail, way up high.  It isn't just the content of the image that appeals, it is knowing that it was done quickly.  This image might be termed a "speed painting" as it was done in about an hour.  It is amazing what can be conveyed in such a short time - the sense of distance, space, longing, weariness, determination, beauty, and so much more.  Putting a time limit on our work can be highly motivating, challenging us to see exactly what we can do if we focus, concentrate, and really apply ourselves.  The time limit means we know that the end is always in sight, and so we feel more free to really go all out with our effort.   

This is the week to use time limits as a powerful tool.  If you've fallen behind, time limits can be the key to catching up, and getting back on the trail.  Here are the prompts and exercises for week three, starting with this evocative art. 

Monday, April 15 - Monday is, of course Art Day.  Take another look at "On A Quest."  What emotions does it bring up?  What is the story of of this person, and what will they find when they finally reach the city on the mountain?  Use some of these words and phrases to form a draft poem, but give yourself a time limit - fifteen minutes at most.

Tuesday, April 16 - Tuesdays and Saturdays are Pick a Prompt Days.  Visit the archive of speculative fiction prompts on this blog entitled "Prompt the Muse."  For this prompt, pick something that you can do with a time limit - say twenty minutes from start with the prompt to finishing the draft poem.  Don't think about it too hard, just get the words down.

Wednesday, April 17 -  Choose a hobby that you enjoy, and answer these four questions, with four words each.  Do this fast, two minutes total, and don't feel the need to stick to the questions too closely.  Hobby consists of?  It makes me feel?  Sensing it is?  It provides?  It relates to?  I chose my hobby of origami, and my lists are:  Hobby consists of - origami, paper, crafts, folding.  It makes me feel - satisfied, frustrated, accomplished, entertained.  Sensing it is - beauty, symmetry, smooth, light.  It provides - soothing, escape, perfection, controlled.  It relates to - creation, birth, new, real.  Use at least two words from each section to draft a poem.  For this you get eight minutes, for a total of a draft poem in ten minutes.

Thursday, April 18 - Thursday is Camera Day.  Take some pictures with your camera, and choose one to use as inspiration for a draft poem.  In keeping with our themes, find one that makes you think of a journey/quest, or something that brings up the concept of time and deadlines.  Feel free to take photos all week, and then pull out your favorite for Camera Day.  (If you don't have a camera, draw a picture of the scene, and then use that for your inspiration.)

Friday, April 19 - Think of a time you were confronted with a deadline.  It can be a work project, trying to catch a plane, an upcoming holiday, or anything that had a hard and fast limit.  Think of this subject and your deadline in two ways.  First, write out negative words and phrases that come to you about your subject and its deadline.  Then, write out positive words and phrases about this subject and deadline.  Use this material to create a draft poem in two stanzas.

Saturday, April 20 - Tuesdays and Saturdays are Pick a Prompt Days.  Visit the archive of speculative fiction prompts on this blog entitled "Prompt the Muse."  Find a prompt that makes you think of a long trek, quest, or trip.  Do the writing, and then choose images, phrases, or sensations from your writing to include in a draft poem.

Sunday, April 21 -  Short poems can take longer to write than long poems, but for this week, we are going to form a set of haiku on a schedule!  Give yourself four minutes to write down words that evoke the four seasons.  Don't be too restrictive, feel free to associate as you like.  Now, pick a subject that exists in all four seasons - sports, holidays, events, or even yourself or your pets, for example.  Give yourself four minutes to write four sentences, each with your subject and some of your seasonal words.  Give yourself another four minutes to go back and try to reform each of these sentences into the 5-7-5 syllables per line pattern associated with haiku.  It does not need to be perfect, go with the flow and the sense of the tension in the lines.

If you are behind, you can use these four haiku as four separate poems.  If not, you have a nice set of poems for your 21st day of NaPoWriMo.

Image Credit: "On A Quest" used with the generous permission of the artist, Lassi, Ehecod on  

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