30 Quick Writes

November is NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month). It began in 1999 as a way of encouraging authors to write a certain number of words on their novel every day. Undoubtedly, it has resulted in the publication of novels that would not have been written otherwise, and that’s a good thing.

I adapted that idea to writing poems, not a novel. For the last two Novembers, I have written a poem first thing every day.

I prepare weeks ahead of November by making a list of topics I could use for my poems. Any idea that pops into my mind is added to the list, no matter how unusual it might seem. I don’t often have 30 topics ready by the start of November, but that’s all right because I want to be really spontaneous about this and add ideas as the month goes on.

I don’t try to perfect the poems in any way. I just quickly write each poem, letting the words flow without any reservations, reflecting my feelings at that moment. They don’t even have to make sense. I don’t worry about punctuation or line length.

Then, when the month is over, I have 30 poems I can revisit and polish whenever I have time. Sometimes I’ll hear about a contest or publisher that is looking for a certain type of poem. I check my on-line folder of NANOWRIMO poems and often find one I can work on for a specific market.

Here’s a list of some of the topics I’ve compiled by the start of November these past two years. Feel free to use them to write your own poems. And then, maybe you’ll start your own list for this coming November.

Satisfying Soup


Mama’s Tenacity

My Ancestors

Two Rocking Chairs, Side by Side

Waiting to Die

Voices of Nature

College Graduates on the Cusp of Life



Do Not Pass

A Mother’s Kiss and Prayer

Grandma’s Hands

Houseplants in Winter

What Time Does to a Small Town

The Sweet Spot in my Garden


The Parts of Me I See in my Daughter

Photo by USFWS Mountain-Prairie, sourced via Flickr under a Creative Commons License. Post by Marilyn Kratz.

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