For the past 279 days, I've written a poem before breakfast, and posted it to instagram. I'm not even joking when I say it's made me a meaner person. At least that's what some people would say.
And I'm meaner (and happier) because of my new creative habit.
Some background about the project: I was stuck, creatively. I wrote sporadically; some days I wrote for eight hours straight, other days for just a few minutes. I felt as if the creative tap was constantly switching between "always on" and "always off". I wanted to get into a creative habit...one I could use to jumpstart my day. So I decided to write a poem every morning before breakfast.
And Boom. Now I'm Mean. Here's How:
I. I guard my time ferociously. The 15 minutes it takes for me to write a poem is sacred. Don't ask me to help you look for a sock, your cell phone or your backpack. The only things which are allowed during this time are the 3 B's: blood, babies or bail. If it's not one of those three things, be prepared to wait a few minutes.
2. I ignore rude people. Look... it's a poem before breakfast, dashed on the corner of a paper towel, or cobbled together on my phone through half-closed eyelids. My starter poems those first few months were clumsy and hesitant, but somewhere around day 150, I hit my groove. I started to let loose a little bit; play with language and just get my hands a little dirty (so to speak). The comments all along have been lovely, especially the readers who tag their sweethearts as a way of sending them a little love note. I love that. But one time, I got this mean comment: 'I usually like your poems, even though I'm an English student. But this is just bad, I thought it would be a quatrain, but it's not." Well. Ok then. For starters, it wasn't a quatrain (a poem with four lines)...it had five lines. So. I re-read the comment a few times. Ok, all afternoon. While considering what to say in my reply. Then I thought about the point of writing a poem every morning. The point wasn't ONLY to improve my writing or to capture an emotion on paper. The point was the art of keeping a habit. And if not everybody likes it, that's just fine. I made an instant policy to delete mean comments which seem to exist only to embarrass, not to advise. Starting with his.
3. I'm overprotective of other people who putt their stuff "out there". It takes guts to step into the limelight. Sometimes it feels like people are lined up in the shadows, just waiting for you with rocks and sticks. And not so silently hoping that you'll fail. Yet people willingly step forward, all the same. It's easy to make fun if you're not the one up there, working your butt off in the spotlight. I'm a defender of 'the out there', as I call it. I don't have to understand it, I don't even have to like it. But what I will do, is to think you're a freaking rock star walking into the 'out there'. And will tell anyone who dares to tease you to stop smirking and appreciate the wonder that is you. So do it. If you are a writer, a maker, a singer, a poet, an artist, a baker...whatever it is you put out into the world: I've got your back.
4. I don't listen to excuses about time. Don't tell me you don't have time - because you do. (I TOLD you I'm meaner now!) We make time for things we want to do. You may not have an afternoon, but I bet you have five minutes. If you can text while standing in line at the grocery store checkout or play Words With Friends while sitting on the toilet, you have five minutes to devote to a project. I've written my poems in the car (the passenger seat!), a doctor's office, the vegetable section of Whole Foods and one time, in a car wash. You can do it. Five minutes, here and there. An afternoon when you can. Little by little is how big things happen.
I wrote another poem this morning, and I'll write another tomorrow. And the day after that. And the week after that. I'm in it for the the long haul, wherever the words lead me. I suspect I'll get a little 'meaner' as I go. I promise to keep you posted.
Your turn: are you meaner than you once were?