I don’t know about you, but I’m stuck in a writing slump.
For me, these come after I’ve finished a big project. I’ve been working on something for so long that when it’s finally done, it’s like I have no idea how to write anymore or what else I would even work on.
But writing slumps can strike anytime, and they’re awful. I designed this writing challenge to help writers break out of a particularly bad case of writer’s block, but honestly, this would be perfect for anyone who writes, and here’s why.
How Writing Challenges Can Help Get You Back Into the Swing of Things
If you’re in a slump, writing challenges can push you to get back into the habits you once (or never) had. Here are some of the ways writing challenges make that happen:
1. Fresh Ideas
These writing prompts will keep you generating tons of new ideas, and a few of them will even ask you to leave your house (I know, I know, I’m evil). Getting some fresh inspiration and forcing yourself to write about new people, places, and events will breathe some clean air into those old writerly lungs.
If you’re aiming to write for a living, it’s very important that you start working on self-discipline. No, you don’t necessarily need to be writing every single day. But think about it like this: if you didn’t go to work every day that you didn’t feel like it, would you ever go to work?
It’s the same with writing. We love it, sometimes we hate it, but we’ve gotta figure out a way to keep at it regularly. That way, instead of depending on motivation or inspiration, we can depend on ourselves! Yay!
Practice makes perfect. If you’re an athlete, you wouldn’t consider yourself a pro player just because you happened to hit one very impressive home run a few years ago. You’ve got to keep working those muscles and building those skills so you can keep hitting home runs in the future.
This writing challenge will keep you writing every day. And, again, you don’t necessarily have to write every day for your entire life–however, by coming back and working on new prompts every day, you’ll develop some new skills and maybe dust the cobwebs off some tricks you haven’t used in a while.
Without further ado, let’s get started on our thirty day writing challenge!
The Writing Challenge
Day 1: Go for a walk or drive around your neighborhood. Write a poem about one of the buildings you see–who used to live or work there, and do they still? Bonus points if you write about a building you’ve never noticed before.
Day 2: Put random coordinates into Google Earth and see what comes up. Write a paragraph, no more, about what you see. Even if you landed in the middle of the ocean, take moment to describe what’s there and what you think might be lurking.
Day 3: Make a list of all of your writerly goals for the next calendar year. Do you want to finally finish up that manuscript? Start finding cover designs for your novel? Find beta readers? No matter how far-fetched it may feel, write it all down.
Day 4: Consider your favorite book from childhood. Write a short story (or just a brainstorm–no pressure to create a complete work here) about an alternate ending. Does the bad guy win? Does the girl fall in love with someone else?
Day 5: Rewrite a Disney movie from the POV of the villain. This can be a movie script, a short story, a poem, or just notes in your phone.
Day 6: Take one of your favorite stories and turn it into a poem, or vice versa. This can be something you’ve written or an old favorite off your shelf.
Day 7: Make a list of your favorite tropes in TV shows, movies, or books. If you’re not sure what tropes are or what sorts of tropes are your favorites, check out this list. Tropes are the building blocks of fiction, and writing down your own will help you identify what you like and what you might want to write about in the future!
Day 8: For one day, keep a detailed journal about where you’ve been, how you’re feeling, what you’re eating, and the conversations you’ve had.
Day 9: Go to a coffee shop or bar and do some good old fashioned eavesdropping. Write down a conversation you overhear. If you’re unable to go to a coffee shop or bar, try this with a TV show you’ve never seen before.
Day 10: Use the last line of your overheard conversation as the prompt for a poem.
Day 11: Turn the overheard conversation into a short story (you get a lot of mileage out of eavesdropping, it turns out!).
Day 12: Take a random book off your shelf. Flip to any page and take a look at the first sentence. Use that sentence to start a short story or poem.
Day 13: Pick an emotion you feel strongly about (no pun intended). Write it at the top of your page, then write a piece of flash fiction about that feeling. Flash fiction can be up to a thousand words, but keep it as short as possible.
Day 14: Take your journal, notebook, or laptop (if possible) outdoors. Describe your surroundings as if you were a complete stranger.
Day 15: Take a stroll, drive, or hike to a new place, and bring something to write with, even if it’s just your phone! When you get to where you’re going, write stream of consciousness for fifteen minutes, nonstop. It can be about anything at all, even if you’re just writing ‘I don’t know what to write’ over and over again.
Day 16: Locate one of your favorite books. Write down everything you love about it. Is it the characters? If so, which characters are your favorite, and why? Just like with tropes, knowing what we love in media will help us recreate it in our own work.
Day 17: Using a book you own or have already read, write a short story and imitate that author’s style. Try to sound as much like them as you possibly can, and really get into what makes their style distinct from yours.
Day 18: Go back to a book that you truly hate, if you still have a copy. What did you dislike about it? Make a–you guessed–list of everything in it that didn’t work for you. Are these things that often bother you in stories?
Day 19: Take the list of things you didn’t like about that book and write down ways you might have fixed those problems. It’s okay if you don’t know, or if it’s way too far gone to be saved–we’re just imagining a world where it was better, with you at the wheel.
Day 20: Turn something that you’ve written or something you’ve read into a writing prompt. Send that prompt to a writer friend and see what sort of story ideas they come up with!
Day 21: Similarly, ask your friend to describe their favorite book or movie without giving away with book or movie it is. Use this description as a writing prompt, and when you’re done, ask your friend which story they were describing to see where you differed.
Day 22: Grab that list of writing goals you made from Day 3. What’s the most pressing goal on that list, or the thing you want to do the most? If it’s all important and you can’t pick, choose one at random. List three things you can do in the next week to get closer to that goal. If you can’t, list three things you need to research.
Day 23: Write a letter to yourself on your first day of high school.
Day 24: Write a fake job posting for a different era in history. For example, write a job posting for a footman at Downton Abbey, as you think it might appear in the London papers. If you’re not sure how to do that, research newspapers from the era in history you’re interested in!
Day 25: Turn your favorite feel-good story into a dramatic horror.
Day 26: Invent a new character, completely from scratch. They can be someone for an existing project, someone to fit into the world of your favorite show, or someone totally random, doesn’t matter. Find a character creation template and fill it out with every detail about them.
Day 27: Try finding a writing partner! This often takes more than one day, but lay the groundwork–check out the #amwriting tag on Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok, or see if your local college or library has a creative writing club or poetry meetup. One of the best ways to stick with writing is to find a community of like-minded people to commiserate and hold one another accountable. It doesn’t happen overnight, but see what your options are!
Day 28: If you don’t usually listen to music while you write, pick some music to listen to. Make a journal entry about how that type of music makes you feel and whether it helped. If it didn’t, try a new genre–maybe classical puts you to sleep, and the Mario Kart soundtrack is where it’s at (that’s true for me, anyway).
Day 29: Describe a favorite childhood memory from the point of view of a narrator who doesn’t know what’s going on.
Day 30: Take a look at all the snippets and pieces you’ve made over the last thirty days, and give yourself a pat on the back for all your hard work! Pick five of your favorite new stories or pieces and set them aside to work on later.
I hope this challenge has given you some new ideas for a story, or at least gotten you thinking about what you want to work on next. If you skip a day, feel free to pick up where you left off or skip the days you’ve missed–the point isn’t to complete this, but instead to practice as much as you can.
What was your favorite part of this challenge? Do you have any new story ideas? Let us know in the comments!
Still feeling stuck? Implementation is key! Take our Writer’s Block Quiz to help discover more ways to get un-stuck.
Disclosure: Some of the links above may contain affiliate partnerships, meaning, at no additional cost to you, Self-Publishing School may earn a commission if you click through to make a purchase.