Writing Challenges

keep-calm-and-continue-writing-39I recently incorporated a Daily Writing Challenge to boost my creativity and daily output. And yes, I apologize for the lack of posts since Christmas, but personal issues, travel and reevaluating the direction of my life kinda took up a lot of time and energy, so the blog went on the back burner for a while. That while ended today.The concept of a Daily Writing challenge is to try and work with as many aspects of the written word as possible, to gain insight into different perspectives,prose, genre and sub genres, types of narratives, with the purpose of building skill, understanding and enhancing the creative juices.

You can do this in various ways, like using Story Cubes to shape your narrative, using an online plot generator to start you off, or using the Writers Toolbox. I personally prefer getting friends to issue challenges. Not only do you get a completely different take on a story (assuming they are not idiots or only consume Jerry Bruckheimer films) and you get an audience (because they can’t really say no to reading the story they challenged you to write).

Get a partner in crime to issue the challenges, schedule one challenge daily and remember to do follow-up (i.e. did you like it, did they like it, was it easy/hard, key realizations, etc.. Ensure the tasks are diverse in framing, intent and structure to make them as challenging as possible. Being forced to write from the perspective of a black rhino being hunted by an overzealous hunter, writing poetry about the 99 percent, or what a sneeze feels like to a fly passing by, will force you out of your literary comfort zone.

Note: examples provided are just examples. You can do more outlandish stuff. In fact, the more outlandish it is, the more entertaining it is for me to write.

You can set whatever rules that fit your specific preferences, just make sure you have limits on what you can do. It’s the school of dogme and while I don’t use their rules, I have set my own. The premise is, if you have carte blanche to do whatever, whenever and for as long as you need, you won’t learn much or be very creative.The limitations force you to write your way out.

My Writing Challenge Rules are:

  1. Fulfill the challenge to the letter (once the perspective, scene or genre is set, then follow it).
  2. Write what you can in 15 minutes and then stop. (I don’t have to end the story in 15 minutes, just write for that amount of time).
  3. Don’t be afraid of going new places with the writing. (the point is to train your brain, not produce a literary masterpiece).
  4. Write every day (incl. weekends. Everyone can find 15 mins, even on the busiest of weekends. No computer? Use a smartphone or pen/paper. It’s still a thing the latter).

So far I have done 6 challenges, and I can’t see myself stopping. Not only have I produced some fun texts, some of the challenges actually look like the beginning of a concept, or can be tweaked to fit into some of my existing work. Fantastic!

So what do you do to build your skill and enhance your creativity? Beside the obvious consumption of mind-altering substances and indulging in ad-hoc phrenology. If you have a fantastic tool, then do share. 🙂 

1 thought on “Writing Challenges

  1. Yeah I agree, the only way to write better is by writing and reading more. Everyone has their own way of doing it. Like Hemmingway had several places he would write in for different things he d write, so for novels he’d go to one place, for letters to another etc.

    Keep writing! Don’t worry about the amount of output! Sometimes not writing is also good because we find inspiration again.


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