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The 30-Day Writing Challenge: An Alternative to NaNoWriMo for Writers Who Fear Commitment

I don't know about you, but I'm afraid of commitment.

I find it difficult to choose a movie because I think two hours is too long to focus on the same story. I've had three separate Facebook accounts, over 10 different email addresses (five of which are currently active), and I've dyed my hair more colors than I could count on both my fingers and my toes. I'm the person who researches the restaurant ahead of time and still stares at the menu long after everyone has decided what to order.

Time CommitmentSo forgive me for not jumping at the opportunity to write 50,000 words in a month. Ain't nobody got time for that.

Okay, so I know the idea is that even moms and full-time employees can find time, that prioritizing writing over other things is important to nurture your artistic self, and that fitting writing into your day every day is what makes a writer, well, a writer. I get it, I do. I get all of it.

Even so, I would like to see my family for more than 30 minutes after I get home from work, and—sue me—but going to new restaurants with my friends is, like, the Olympic sport of my life. I'd still like to write every day; it's just that producing such a high volume in such a short amount of time is what sends single girls like me running and screaming. So what's a whiny writer like me to do?

Luckily, the ability to produce a high volume of good writing doesn't just happen overnight. In reality, writing doesn't have to be so intense. It's all about baby steps. (Like, I guess one date wouldn't hurt, and it might be fun to post that I'm "in a relationship" on Facebook.)

Writing for a few minutes every day doesn't sound so scary, does it? The trick is that it all adds up. That's why we've created a less intense alternative to 50,000 words in 30 days. This is the 30-Day Writing Challenge, where we've provided creative writing exercises for every day of the month. The best part is that you can write as much or as little as you'd like without pressure and without having to feel bad about it. After all, it's all about creation in any volume, right?

The 30-Day Writing Challenge

Day 1

Take us through a written walk down your street and to your favorite place through the eyes of somebody else.

Day 2

Think of three people in your life. Give your character the hair and laugh of person 1, the face and bedroom of person 2, and the wardrobe and mannerisms of person 3. This is your new protagonist. Feel free to give him or her any other characteristics you'd like. Give us an idea of who your character is by describing only the first 60 seconds of the character's day.

Day 3

Now send your character to his or her grumpy grandmother's house for a visit. Write the scene of your character's arrival.

Day 4

Imagine that your protagonist has just turned into a statue. Describe his or her thoughts.

Day 5

The last liquid you drank has turned your protagonist into a superhero. What do your character's new powers allow him or her to do?

Day 6

Think of your favorite food. Try to make it sound as disgusting as possible.

Day 7

Spoil the ending of your favorite movie without any context.

Day 8

Take a nondescript sentence such as, "How are you?" Write the same line from at least five different points of view.


Day 9

Turn a Tweet into a haiku.

Day 10

Try to convince your reader that the mythological creature of your choosing exists.

Day 11

You are now a dragon. Describe your hoard.

Day 12

Take the first line of your favorite novel. Remove and replace the nouns and verbs, and write a story that begins with your new line. Delete the first line.

Day 13

Think of the worst pain you've ever felt. Now give your protagonist a papercut and over-exaggerate the pain using your own descriptions.

Day 14

Your character meets somebody new on the bus. His or her opinion about the person is changed by the end of the bus trip. How did this change occur?

Day 15

Characterize the second-last app on your phone or the last website you've visited (before this one). Send this new character to the supermarket.

Day 16

The last thing you touched (other than the keyboard, mouse, screen, etc.) is trying to kill your protagonist. Explain why.

Day 17

A magic trick involving cards has gone horribly wrong. What are the consequences?

Day 18

Free write about your first protagonist (from Day 1) meeting the new character from Day 15.

Day 19

Cross an item off your bucket list by doing it in your writing.

Day 20

Ask somebody you know how his or her day was. Make any kind of poem out of their answer.

Day 21

Your character's skeleton is trying to escape his or her body. Describe what happens.

Day 22

Find a cliché you absolutely hate. Rewrite it while keeping the intended meaning intact.

Day 23

Make an existing protagonist into an antagonist by changing one small thing about him or her. Write a pitch that sells this antagonist's story.

Day 24

Put your favorite poem through a translator into a different language and then back again. Do this until the poem is no longer recognizable. Rewrite it and turn it into lyrics for a song.

Day 25

One of your characters has been mistaken for somebody else. Write what happens next.

Day 26

Write the log line for a mockumentary.

Day 27

Tell the story of a man who lives in a motel.

Day 28

Your character picks up a locket or a frame. Explain its contents and their significance.

Day 29

Think of your greatest fear. If it's an object, person, or place, make it sound loveable. If it's some kind of experience, make it sound fun.

Day 30

Finish a story with the line, "Nothing ever felt easier to say."

That wasn't so scary, was it?

Which prompts from the 30-Day Writing Challenge were your favorites? Did anything surprise you about your writing? We hope that you've come out of this month no worse for wear than when you started. After all, writing is work, but it's also supposed to be good for the soul. Even if you didn't do all of the challenges, you've written more than you would have if you hadn't taken part in these writing exercises at all. Like I said, it's all about taking baby steps. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some email accounts to close once and for all . . .



Image sources: Nathan Walker/, obpia30/


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