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16 Writing Challenges to Inspire Your Craft

20 mins read

Writing can get kind of lonely sometimes. 

Not only that, but it can get stale. Sometimes we fall into a formula when we write books, or we can’t get ourselves past the first few chapters of an idea, or we’re stuck in the dreaded middle section of our novel for what feels like forever. It can feel a little like getting stranded, and it’s no wonder some writers jump ship on their projects. 

But it doesn’t need to be so lonely, nor does it need to be boring! Participating in a writing challenge might be your ticket out of that sticky spot. 

What are Writing Challenges?

Writing challenges are exactly what they sound like. They’re challenges created for writers with the intent of getting writers to, well, write! These aren’t writing contests—there often isn’t a cash prize or publication prize for people who participate in writing challenges. 

If there isn’t a prize, why should you bother?  

Why Should I Try a Writing Challenge? 

Writing challenges do a few excellent things for their participants. First and foremost, they connect a participant to a community of writers participating in the same challenge. This sense of community helps writers amp each other up—it’s a team dynamic we don’t often get to experience as writers, and it can make the world of difference powering through a first draft or a difficult round of revisions. 

Writing challenges also encourage writers to practice, often every day. Of course, you don’t need to write every single day to be a “real” writer, but just like athletes do marathons, writers can get a lot out of a good challenge. You can flex your writing muscles, maybe try something new, and have some fellow participants to commiserate with. What more could you need? 

For me, personally, writing challenges often feel a little bit like writing camp. You get to stay in the comfort of your own home, but you’re meeting people online, you’re working on a new project, and the whole enterprise has that fun, novel feeling you get at summer camp. The momentum might not last forever, but you don’t need it to! The goal is to have fun and make something. 

If you’re looking to try something new, power through a difficult draft, or just crank out words, writing challenges might be worth checking out. And lucky for you, we’ve compiled a list of some writing challenges you can participate in! 

Here are Sixteen Writing Challenges to Enter:

1. NaNoWriMo

“National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 as a daunting but straightforward challenge: to write 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days. Now, each year on November 1, hundreds of thousands of people around the world begin to write, determined to end the month with 50,000 words of a brand new novel. They enter the month as elementary school teachers, mechanics, or stay-at-home parents. They leave novelists.”

NaNoWriMo is perhaps the best-known writing challenge, and it’s a doozy. Contrary to popular belief, the challenge isn’t really to write an entire novel in a month—it’s to write 50,000 words of a novel, which is not a whole lot less difficult. It’s got a built-in social media system to connect with other writers working in similar genres, a word count tracker that measures your progress, and rewards you with badges as you complete milestones throughout the month. Here are some other ways to set yourself up for success, too.

If NaNoWriMo happens at a bad time of year for you (for example, I could barely do this challenge in college, since it was exactly when my classes started heating up), check the website for Camp NaNo and other challenges that happen throughout the year. 

2. Write NonFiction in November Challenge (WNFIN) 

“During the Write Nonfiction in November (WNFIN) Challenge, also known as National Nonfiction Writing Month (NaNonFiWriMo), you are personally challenged to start and complete a work of nonfiction in 30 days. This can be an article, an essay, a book, a book proposal, a white paper, or a manifesto.”

This challenge is intended as an alternative to NaNoWriMo for Nonfiction writers. Instead of using a word count and word goal to keep track, this challenge encourages the honor system, and the intent is to complete any work of nonfiction. 

3. EBookWriMo

“Your mission (should you choose to accept it): Write an ebook for your audience in 30 days, from November 1 to November 30.” 

This challenge encourages its participants to complete a polished ebook in thirty days. The premise is simple: novels are huge, and ebooks are generally smaller. This challenge takes you through actionable steps to write and polish an ebook, with the goal being to have a completely finished ebook for your audience by the end. 

4. StoryADay

“StoryADay is a creativity challenge:

Write (and finish) a short story every day during May and/or September.

(or on your own schedule!)

StoryADay exists to promote creativity, not to teach you how to ‘be a published writer’.

(And sometimes we do it all over again in September.)”

If novels aren’t your bag, or the thought of working on a single project for a month feels too daunting, StoryADay might be for you! StoryADay challenges you to write a story every day during May or September—you don’t have to post or publish it, and they give you prompts each day to keep your gears turning. There are a handful of ways that writing stories can make you a better writer, so don’t sleep on this one.

5. 12 x 12 Challenge 

“12 x 12 is a year-long writing challenge where members aim to write 12 complete picture book drafts, one per month, for each 12 months of the year.

A draft means a story with a beginning, middle, and end—NOT a submission-ready piece. Founded by picture book author Julie Hedlund, 12 x 12 has been supporting, encouraging, and educating writers since 2012.”

12×12 is a great resource for picture book authors. One of the biggest perks of this challenge is its community—participating in this will connect you to lots of other authors, as well as resources for writing, revising, and submitting your work. 

6. Chapter Book Challenge 

“The Chapter Book Challenge, otherwise known as ‘ChaBooCha,’ was created by Rebecca Fyfe and first ran in 2012. It runs every year in the month of March. The challenge is to write one completed first draft of an early reader, chapter book, middle grade book or YA novel in the month of March, starting on the 1st of March and finishing on the 31st of March.”

During the month, you’ll find a helpful community to engage with, original articles from published authors and successful agents, and giveaways throughout.

7. Yeah Write Super Challenge 

“The Super Challenge is typically run in two rounds. During each round, we’ll release the prompt on Friday at 10pm US Eastern time. That’s right—you don’t have to stay up all night to get your prompt! Writers then have 48 hours to write a story or essay responsive to that prompt.

Once the writing phase is complete, our judges go to work. Each piece is scored and given positive and critical feedback by each judge. Writers will receive their feedback 12-24 hours before we announce who will advance to the next round. For more information about this phase of the challenge, check out our FAQ.

Roughly ten writers from the first round of competition advance to the second round to compete for first, second and third place prizes.”

If you’re looking for a writing challenge with a little incentive, look no further! This challenge uses prompts to get writers in a variety of different genres competing for cash. This takes place once a quarter and lasts for six weeks, so check in every now and again to see if they’re running a challenge that looks like it’s for you! 

8. 365 Writing Challenge 

“What is 365 Writing Challenge?  It’s an organized group of writers who encourages and supports each other as they try to write consistently for a calendar year.”

This challenge is a subgroup of the 10 Minute Novelists group—just link up with their Facebook page to join! For this one, you and your fellow novelists can cheer each other on as you work a little every day on your novel. Momentum can really build after a while, and this challenge can have you cranking out hundreds of thousands of words by the end of the year. 

9. Writer’s Games 2024

“The Writer’s Games is a two-month, challenge-based competition that can seem daunting until you dive in. It’s not your ordinary writing competition for several reasons. First, all participants must register in advance to participate. Second, competition writing begins only after Events are announced. Third, Events are kept secret until the start of the Event. Fourth, every entry submitted on time receives honest, unbiased feedback from a team of future editors, professors, and literary agents, regardless of placement!”

If you want a challenge with a little pizzazz, here’s your pick! This is another prize-winning option. Find the prompt on their site, take a look at the core concepts, and respond with a short story within their parameters (750-6,000 words) for a chance to win! 

10. Scribophile

Scribophile is a vibrant online writing community that offers a plethora of writing challenges and opportunities for writers of all levels to hone their craft. With a user-friendly platform designed for constructive feedback and collaboration, Scribophile hosts various writing challenges throughout the year, catering to diverse genres and writing styles.

Writers can participate in themed contests, flash fiction challenges, or even set personal writing goals within the supportive environment of Scribophile’s community. These challenges not only encourage writers to explore new ideas and techniques but also foster connections with fellow writers, providing invaluable support and encouragement on the journey toward literary excellence.

Whether you’re looking to flex your creative muscles, receive feedback on your work, or simply connect with like-minded writers, Scribophile offers a dynamic space where writers can grow and thrive.

11. The Writer’s Workout

The Writers’ Workout is an engaging online platform that provides a range of writing challenges and competitions tailored to writers seeking to enhance their skills and creativity.

With monthly challenges designed to prompt writers to explore different genres, styles, and themes, The Writers’ Workout offers a supportive environment where participants can push their boundaries and experiment with new techniques. From flash fiction contests to poetry challenges and everything in between, writers can find a variety of prompts and exercises to spark their imagination and inspire their next literary masterpiece.

With opportunities to receive feedback from peers and professional writers, The Writers’ Workout encourages writers to develop their craft, build confidence, and ultimately become more proficient storytellers.

12. The Poetry Marathon

The Poetry Marathon is an exhilarating annual event that invites poets from around the world to embark on a challenging yet rewarding journey of creativity and expression.

Held over the course of 24 hours, participants endeavor to write 24 poems, each within a designated hour, pushing the boundaries of their imagination and poetic prowess.

With prompts provided throughout the marathon and a supportive online community rallying behind them, poets have the opportunity to explore diverse themes, experiment with various forms and styles, and delve deep into the art of poetry.

The Poetry Marathon not only fosters a sense of camaraderie among poets but also encourages personal growth, resilience, and the celebration of the written word.

13. Writer’s Digest

Writer’s Digest is a renowned resource for writers of all levels, offering a wealth of information, advice, and inspiration to help them navigate the world of writing and publishing. In addition to its comprehensive collection of articles, workshops, and writing guides, Writer’s Digest also hosts various writing challenges and competitions throughout the year.

These challenges cover a wide range of genres and formats, including short stories, poetry, memoirs, and more, providing writers with opportunities to showcase their talent, receive feedback from industry professionals, and even win prizes. Whether it’s the annual Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition, themed contests, or prompt-driven challenges, Writer’s Digest offers a supportive platform for writers to hone their skills, gain recognition for their work, and connect with a vibrant community of fellow writers.

With its longstanding reputation as a trusted resource for writers, Writer’s Digest continues to inspire and empower writers to pursue their literary aspirations and achieve their writing goals.

14. Reedsy

Reedsy is a dynamic online platform dedicated to supporting writers on their creative journey, offering a range of resources, tools, and opportunities to help them thrive in the world of writing.

Among its offerings, Reedsy hosts a weekly series of writing prompts and challenges designed to spark creativity and encourage writers to explore new ideas and styles. These prompts cover various genres and themes, providing writers with a steady stream of inspiration and opportunities to flex their creative muscles.

With a supportive community of writers and editors, Reedsy’s writing challenges offer a space for writers to experiment, improve their craft, and connect with fellow creatives.

15. Jerico Writers

Jericho Writers is a comprehensive online platform dedicated to empowering writers with the tools, resources, and support they need to succeed in their writing journey.

Amongst this, Jericho Writers hosts monthly writing challenges designed to inspire writers, encourage creativity, and provide opportunities for growth.

These challenges cover a wide range of genres, styles, and themes, allowing writers to explore new ideas, experiment with different techniques, and hone their craft in a supportive and collaborative environment.

Jericho Writers’ writing challenges offer writers the chance to connect with peers, receive constructive criticism, and push themselves to new heights of creativity and excellence.

16. NYC Midnight

NYC Midnight offers a great platform for writers to engage in creative challenges and showcase their storytelling prowess.

Through their writing challenges, participants are assigned prompts within specific genres and have a limited time frame to craft compelling stories or screenplays.

These challenges provide a wonderful opportunity for writers to test their skills under pressure, explore diverse genres, and receive feedback from peers and judges.

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