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How Writing Challenges Help Authors

Updated on December 16, 2017
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Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience. She holds degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

Authors have many opportunities to improve their writing, explore new aspects, and challenge their own thoughts and ideas. They are all over the internet.

Sadly, most ignore these opportunities or chase false ones. A good challenge can really help you exercise your writing. So what are these challenges and where can you find them? Let’s explore them.

Flash Fiction Writing Prompts

Have you tried a flash fiction writing event? First of all, do you know what flash fiction is? It is a short piece of a scene or story that ranges from 100 words to no more than about 750 though these numbers can vary from place to place. It doesn’t have to tell a complete story though that can be an added challenge and very interesting.

These prompts can come in a word, phrase, song, scenario, or picture. Typically when I host one of these events, I post pictures and encourage the writers to write a quick flash fiction piece based on what they see, or don’t see. Some great stories have been born with such events.

Writing Sprints

I had not heard of one of these until recently. A friend invited me to attend one. Why not give them a try? What could it hurt? Nothing at all! So I did it. And it was great!

A writing sprint is a set time where writers come together and focus on writing as much as they in the allotted time period. Let me give you an example of the one I attended.

The host allotted 2 hours for the entire event. At the verbal starting gun we stepped away from all social networking channels and just wrote. Our time limit was fifteen minutes. When the fifteen minutes was up, we jumped back online and reported how many words we had written in that time period. After five minutes of conversing, we did it again.

The result of these writing sprints was a lot of writing down in a short amount of time. If you have trouble making time to write or focusing, this can really help.


This is a wonderful writing challenge that many writers take up each November. The goal is to write a whole novel of at least 60,000 words in one month. That does sound daunting, but it really can be done. Writers have done it time and again due to this challenge.

How can this happen? It technically only takes 2000 words a day to be written. When I say that, so many people gasp. That number sounds so large to them. The truth is that 200 words can easily be achieved. But it is harder for a writer new to the task. I have been writing for over 6 years and a few thousand words is nothing now. I can fly through hundreds in a matter of a few minutes.

The key is to have in your head already laid out what you want to say. If you have to think hard as you write, then that 2000 words will be hard.

Before I leave this section, let me point out that the work achieved with Nano Is not the final. It is only the rough draft. A major accomplishment achieved, it is only the beginning. The purpose of the writing challenge is to help you get that novel started that you keep putting off and help you finish it as it is so easy to say you’ll work on it tomorrow.

Other Writing Challenges

There are other writing challenges that can be found online. Some of them are ones that individual groups create. Go online and look around.

- Young Writer's Project has several challenges that can be inspirational.

- Writer's Digest has also published several ideas for challenges.

- NaPoWriMo is the poetry version of the big November fiction writing challenge.

- Yeah Write has multiple writing challenges going on all the time.

- StoryaDay is a site where you can share your goals and how you did.

- 12x12 is a challenge for children writers to create 12 picture books in a year.

Create Your Own

Don't be scared to create your own. It can be so much fun. Get a group of writing friends together. Set up a challenge that you can all do in person or online. Have contests against yourself and each other. You could create unique ones just for your own group.

Have fun while you write.


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