April poetry challenge sparks new insight for writer

For someone who’s really bad at social media, I don’t really know why I’ve ended up running five different Instagram accounts. Yep, you read that right — five. Two personals (with a total of 100 followers combined) and 3 public accounts that I run for different hobbies, which in itself has become a kind of new hobby. The most recently created of the three is the only that I’ve ever made for a specific event, called “escapril.”

Escapril is a month-long poetry challenge created by up-and-coming author and poet Savannah Brown, who constructed a list of 30 prompts for the month of April, when the challenge takes place. When I first stumbled upon the list (via indie artist Dodie), I thought it would simply be a fun way to get to writing more.

I created the account for escapril the first day of April, after realizing that only sharing the poems on my main account to friends — half made up of people who didn’t care about reading them and half those who see my writing every day — would be a waste. I wasn’t expecting very much attention; I was used to few likes and fewer comments, and I posted only for the satisfaction of knowing that I was sharing my writing with others who also spent their free time writing.

However, I was pleasantly surprised. That first post — which was just a screenshot of the poem from my Notes app on my phone — got comments, from fellow writers participating in escparil that, after reading their writing, became quick fans of. After spending a day floating around in the escapril writing community and seeing what others were doing with their writing and posts, I started posting my writing with visuals, which I continued throughout the month. I would write the poem for prompts two or three days prior to when they were to be posted (to allow time to edit them to completion or semi-completion) and would design the visual for the poems the night before. And while it was fun, I also kind of hated it.

It was a challenge, almost as much as the writing aspect was. It took me anywhere from 15-20 minutes to design visuals on my phone, and because I always waited until the very last second to do this, I would be tired and cranky and wanting to simply finish it so I could go to bed. In this respect, I was being stupid. There was no reason for me to ruin my sleep schedule for this challenge, but, uh, that’s what I did.

True to the “challenge,” it was hard. In the beginning, I wasn’t very used to writing by prompt, so I felt a little lost when I was writing. But as the month went on, I was able to take the prompts and use it more loosely in the pieces, when before I was sticking to them more strictly. The challenge definitely helped me improve this aspect of my writing, as well as my self-discipline in writing and editing by a certain date and time. And rather than being motivated by a harsh deadline or specific necessity, I knew that this was for myself and the writing community, which made it actually enjoyable.

However, I did burn out. Towards the end, I was just ready to be done. I was still having fun, but I was busy with so many other things that I simply wanted to finally be able to have a break. The community still continues now, though at a more toned-down pace. Many of those in the community also felt burned out, and aren’t as active on their accounts anymore because there is finally a chance for a much-needed break.

All in all though, escapril was a great experience. The community on Instagram exposed me to so many different styles of poetry that have led me to think even more outside the box in how I approach prompt writing.