A few months ago, I committed to writing one poem a day.
I am honestly terrible at keeping commitments, but the older I get, the more I see how a little self-discipline does me good.
Plus, I am pursuing writing as a career, and the only way to be a professional writer is to actually write, write and write some more.
I began sharing my poetry on Instagram daily. I gathered a small following.
And I wrote a poem through the proverbial thick and thin: at times around eleven pm and at other times from my perch in a hard-backed chair in my son's hospital room.
I stuffed an unlined notebook in my purse and pulled it out to scribble on anytime a thought, observation or idea assaulted me.
I was ever so faithful to my resolution.
Then, a few day ago, I was fed up, and it wasn't with my writing.
It was with this ridiculous tic I had developed: tapping the Instagram app on my phone every hour to see how many "likes" I had gotten on my newest poem.
Sometimes, I'd write a poem I loved, and it wouldn't garnish much attention. I'd wonder what was wrong with the poem.
Maybe I wasn't meant to write poetry?
At this juncture, in a move I never predicted, I broke up with my commitment to write one poem every day.
My reservoir, from whence had flown ideas and thoughts, well, it seemed to have dried up.
At around one o'clock a few mornings later, I was tossing and turning, wide awake in bed.
Why wasn't I writing?
Then I remembered something I'd read in Mary Oliver's book, A Poetry Handbook:
Various ambitions--to complete the poem,to see it in print,
to enjoy the gratification of someone's comment about it--
serve in some measure as incentives to the writer's work.
Though each of these is reasonable, each is a threat to that
other ambition of the poet, which is to write as well as Keats,
or Yeats, or Williams---...
I remembered this, and I knew why I couldn't write: I had lost focus.
My one-a-day poetry writing challenge was never about harvesting likes.
No, my foray into social media was about becoming a better writer and stepping "out there", being vulnerable!
I had become distracted by the pull of virtual accolades.
This realization was healing water, and it cleansed my creative spirit.
I woke the next morning refreshed...and promptly penned another poem.