Was your New Year’s resolution to write more? Maybe to write better? By this point, you’ve probably realized that both are easier said than done. If you haven’t put any real goals in place—the kind that you can track and complete—it’s difficult to make good on such vague resolutions. That’s where writing challenges can make a difference.
Not only will these challenges give you small milestones to work toward, but some will also give you the opportunity to get in touch with a supportive community if you run into complications.
1. Ultimate Blog Challenge
Once a quarter, the Ultimate Blog Challenge becomes a virtual event mostly run through a Facebook page with about 11,000 members. The basic idea is to write a blog post every day of the month and then share it on Twitter and Facebook for all the other members to see.
Participants get daily emails with inspirational prompts as well as the chance to network with fellow bloggers. The site may look like it’s from 2002, but don’t underestimate the power of peer pressure.
2. NaNoWriMo, a.k.a. National Novel Writing Month
If you aspire to be the next Great American Novelist but haven’t even finished your outline yet, this mega-challenge is for you. Why? Because if you follow through with it, you’re going to write an entire book in a month.
Since NaNoWriMo is a well-known challenge, it has a fantastic support network. The site’s prep section offers webinars, Twitter chats, and even trophies and other virtual encouragement that provide maximum inspiration for finishing that novel by the end of November.
Just remember, for the love of all that is holy, don’t become this woman.
3. Write a short story every week for a year
Your weekly short stories don’t have to be groundbreaking. They could be about something you saw on the street, a conversation you overheard on the subway, or a dream you had. The true purpose of this challenge is to start seeing the world as a place that’s filled with stories—and like Bradbury said, at least one of them should turn out to be a winner.
4. Write 10,000 words in a day
Writing 10,000 words in one day sounds crazy, right? Not if you’re a word sprinter—that’s how the adorable website The Sprint Shack refers to its followers. One of the site’s authors, Faye Kerwin, details exactly how you can meet such a high word count in 24 hours. There’s even a hashtag, #10kWritathon, if you want to publicly chronicle your journey for all to see.
This is a great challenge, whether you’re way behind on a deadline, need to finish some work before a vacation, or just want to atone for your previous literary sins.
Hint: You’ll probably have to turn off your Internet. Say farewell to Reddit for a while.
5. Start a five-year journal
Before you panic, know that this is not as big of a commitment as you think. All you have to do is write at least a single sentence a day based on simple prompts. Then do the same again the next year, and the year after that, and so on, using the same prompts each year and writing under the previous year’s entry. (There are even five-year journals available online for this specific purpose if you don’t want to use a traditional journal.)
The idea is that you get to look back and see how your answers to the questions have changed with the passage of time. Not only will this challenge give you a new perspective on life, but it will also provide inspiration for your other writing projects. And as any good writer knows, those things go hand in hand. You can’t be a good writer without perspective, so if nothing else, it’s worthwhile to take on one of these challenges just for the experience.