2014 April PAD Challenge countdown: 1. Tomorrow is the day that all the poeming begins. Roll up your sleeves, read some Neruda, drink a little wine--whatever you need to do to get in the zone.
In the meantime, here are some frequently asked questions (with frequently given answers) and a few April poeming tips.
What is the April PAD Challenge?
It's a poetry challenge that happens in April. The "PAD" stands for "poem-a-day." So each and every day, I share a new poetry prompt and share my own attempt at the prompt (usually giving myself 15-20 minutes to write). Then, it's in your hands--and yes, you can totally spend more time writing than I do. In fact, you probably should. (Btw, click here for the official guidelines.)
How do I participate in the challenge?
First, you don't need to register or anything. Many poets follow along silently at home--or share with their writing groups. That said, you have to share your poem(s) in the comments to be considered for publication in the Poem Your Heart Out anthology.
How do I comment on the posts?
You have to log in (see the link up on the top right-hand side of the page) to share your poem in the comments. It's free and easy to create an account.
What if my comments don't display?
First-time comments from users go into a sort of holding cell until they're hand-approved by one of our Writer's Digest editors (usually, this clever and handsome guy named Brian Klems). So if it takes a day or three for your first comments to appear, don't freak--they're likely in that holding cell. Once your comment(s) are approved, you won't have to wait in the future. It's just there as a security feature--to keep out the robots and their spam. (Here's a tip: Register right now--if you're not already--and comment on this post, so that there's no hold-up on April 1.)
Can I put my poem in the comments on any post?
A few days after each prompt is shared, I'll pull the comments off that particular post. So if you want your poem for day 1's prompt to be considered for the anthology, you'll need to post your day 1 poem on the post titled 2014 April PAD Challenge: Day 1 (which won't display until April 1). For day 2, there will be a post titled 2014 April PAD Challenge: Day 2, and so on.
Can I link to my poem on my blog?
Many poets do this, and that's cool. Go for it. But please paste your poem in the comments too if you want to be considered for the anthology. I just don't have the time to go to other blogs and hunt down poems. If they're not in the comments on the specific post, I won't consider them.
How does the judging work?
We are very fortunate to have some amazing guest judges (click here to view the entire list). But they are volunteering their time to this challenge, so I'll be going through each day to winnow down a list of finalists that I will then pass on to the guest judge for each specific day.
Which day does each guest judge appear?
Each post will include at least these basic components of information: poetry prompt, my attempt, and who the guest judge is. Each day, I will reveal a new prompt, poem, and judge. So show up each day.
When will the results be announced?
My goal for the announcement is always July 4, but I reserve the right to extend that announcement if needed.
Where do I get the prompts?
The prompts will magically appear on the Poetic Asides home page each morning. The URL is: http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides. We do not e-mail the prompts; sorry, we're just unable to do that without disrupting the entire WritersDigest.com platform. If it makes your life easier, consider bookmarking the Poetic Asides home page mentioned above--or go to WritersDigest.com, scroll over the Editor Blogs tab, and click on Poetic Asides.
How much does all this "amazing-ness" cost?
The challenge is completely free. Poem away with wild abandon.
Can I enter more than one poem for each prompt?
Yes, and many do. That said, we'll be judging for quality, not quantity--so don't be afraid to take a few moments before posting.
What if I don't post every day?
That is fine. Sure, the main goal is to write a poem each day, but some poets can't keep that pace. If you get and share one poem the whole month, that's a win. Five poems, a win. 10 poems, a win. If you do 30 (or more), even better. But don't stress yourself out; this challenge is more about having fun than anything else.
Want to get published?
Find hundreds of poetry publishing opportunities in the 2014 Poet's Market. It's filled with listings for book publishers, magazines, journals, contests, and more. Plus, there are articles on the craft of poetry, business of poetry, and promotion of poetry. And more, yes, so much more!
So those are the FAQs; here are some tips:
5 Ways to Find Success With Your April Poeming
- Don't put your only copy on the blog. While we don't expect any issues this year, there have been times in the past when comments have disappeared into the ether. So keep copies of your poems at home--just in case.
- Write more, worry less. I usually give myself 15-20 minutes to dash off a first draft--so I don't worry about making it perfect; I just write. Then, I can come back to it and tinker. First, create; then, re-create.
- Play to your strengths. With guest judges, I realize there's the potential that poets will try modifying their style to fit a guest judge's writing style and sensibilities. Avoid falling into this trap. Poets are readers too, and they're often more excited by writing that is unique to them--not something they could've written themselves. Embrace your unique strengths and weaknesses as a poet.
- Read other poems. If you're struggling with a prompt (or even if you're not), reading other poets' attempts can help inspire you. If you read a poem you like a lot, let the poet know in the comments and you'll make his or her day.
- Have fun! Being chosen by a famous guest judge is excellent--and so is getting published in a super cool anthology. But remember that the main purpose of this challenge is to poem and have fun.
I'm looking forward to having fun too; just one day to go!
Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer's Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World's Problems (Press 53). A former Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere, he's been a featured reader in events around the country and often leads workshops on writing poetry and getting published. He's married to the poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of their five kids (four boys and one princess). Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer or learn more at www.robertleebrewer.com.
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