Much as writing can challenge us, it’s also important that we challenge our writing once in a while. Write to a prompt. Race your writing peers. Aim to achieve a word count goal. Why? These inject a fresh approach to our work and push us to new levels of what we can accomplish as writers. Word counts can really begin soaring. New and unexpectedly satisfying stories can come about that you never would have thought of without that prompt. And once we know what we are capable of achieving, we will hold ourselves to that standard in future writing. And, ideally, we’ll reach even higher with the next challenge.
What’s more, writing challenges can be fun! They’re also a neat way to promote ourselves as authors from a different angle. Rather than the typical “Here’s my book—read it” approach, generate buzz and interest from readers and fellow writers alike by promoting challenges.
What writing challenges should you do? Any that sound intriguing. If you wish you could write faster, word sprints and word count goals are your ticket. If you’d like to hone your craft by broadening your range, do word or story prompts. My first and favorite challenge was November’s National Novel Writing Month challenge (NaNoWriMo). I also like story prompts. Learning to write readily to a prompt has allowed me to submit work based on special calls from publishers.
At the bottom of this post, I list a number of different challenges. If you know of any others, feel free to add them to the comments!
How often should you do challenges? I dare say I believe in too much of a good thing, and challenges are no exception. If you become too preoccupied with the challenges themselves, the writing you produce may suffer. You may get burned out. Take breaks between challenges or when you start feeling like too much is on your plate.
Just a few challenges to try:
Write or Die (a tool more than a challenge, but one many swear by)
Random Genre Month (Edit-not currently active but worth a look see)
30 Characters Challenge (30 in 30 days) (Edit:done in 2012, but worth looking at)
The Trifecta Writing Challenge (Edit: Challenge Ended, but site is still up)
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J. Rose Allister is the author of more than twenty-five books, primarily romance and erotic romance. A former editor and submissions director, she now works as a mild-mannered hospital secretary by day, naughty writer by night.