The phrase “dumpster fire” seems to have been invented purely for the year 2020. With the year’s passing, most of us are looking with sad puppy-dog eyes at 2021, hoping for a smidgeon of mercy. A modicum of normalcy. An ounce of civility. And a big ol’ dollop of hope.
But, of course, we all realize a better year isn’t solely up to that cherubic baby perched on our doorstep in the 2021-themed diaper. We’re going to have to step up and play a role in our fortunes, too. So we make resolutions. For writers, that often means ignoring the typical “lose 10 pounds” and “try not to murder anyone who doesn’t deserve it” resolutions, in lieu of more writing-focused resolutions.
A very good friend and author, Sydney Salter (Sydney_Salter on Instagram), shared one of her writing resolutions with me. She’s vowed to begin writing poetry a few times a week. A confirmed fiction writer, Sydney doesn’t claim to be a poet, and has no designs on becoming a published poet. But she knows that no matter your preferred genre, it’s important to read and write outside of that genre. So she’s diving into poetry as way to shake up her routine and explore new relationships with words.
I have always been a firm believer in cross-pollinating one’s writing skills. My technical writing has strengthened my fiction by making my language tighter and more focused. My fiction writing has made my article-writing more story-oriented and approachable. And my poetry writing helps me remember how vital rhythm, imagery, and word choice are in any genre.
So, as you jot down your own New Year’s resolutions, consider adding a goal to broaden your writing chops by crafting in a genre that pushes your boundaries.
I’ve decided to join Sydney in her poetry writing challenge. I’m going to try to write a poem a week, just for fun. Like Sydney, I don’t consider myself a poet, but I do love the way poetry sounds, feels, and conjures. And I know that occasional poetry practice strengthens my language skills in my fiction writing.
They say accountability is important to keeping goals. To that end, I’m sharing my first poem of 2021 here—rough draft, unpolished, just an exercise. (Don’t worry. I don’t plan to make a regular habit of subjecting you to my poetic efforts!) Enjoy. Or not. But open up your own notebook and write something wildly out of your comfort zone today. You’ll be glad you did. And the New Year will have one more bucket of creative power splashing onto that dumpster fire. Together, we can douse it, I’m positive. Welcome, 2021.