Monday, January 25, 2016

February's Monthly Challenge - A Daily Idea

by Stephanie Morrill

Stephanie writes young adult novels and is the creator of GoTeenWriters.com. Her novels include The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series and the Ellie Sweet books. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and check out samples of her work on her author website including the free novella, Throwing Stones.

As much as I enjoy making resolutions at New Year's, I think it can be daunting to set a goal that covers an entire year. Trying to eat a certain way for a whole year or write a certain amount of words in a year, etc. That's why I love monthly challenges. A month is long enough to feel the goal stretching you, but it's short enough that you can push yourself to finish. NaNoWriMo is a great example of this.

I thought it would be fun in 2016 for us to take on monthly challenges as a community. (If you have an idea for one, please send me an email!) Some we might do more than once, so if the month doesn't work for you, or if you're not able to complete the challenge, you'll likely have another chance as the year goes on. If you want a sneak peek at upcoming challenges, sign up for our quarterlyish newsletter. (Yes, it used to be monthlyish. Then I had a baby. So this year, it will probably be more quarterlyish.)

The February monthly challenge is to come up with a story idea everyday for 29 days.

I gave myself this challenge in January with moderate success (more on that in a minute) and these were the rules I set for myself:

1. No holding back ideas. If I thought of two ideas on Monday, no saving one for Tuesday. One of the reasons I wanted to do this challenge was to push my creativity and notice the story ideas all around me on any given day. I wanted to press into my belief that each day hold's its own inspiration.

2. The idea must sound like a story that I would actually write. "Star Wars but with clowns" is an idea ... but it's not an idea that makes me want to grab a pen, much less write a whole book based around it.

How the challenge worked out for me:

Was I actually able to come up with a new idea everyday for a month? No. I did really well for about a week, and then I had An Idea. The kind where you get a bit of a zap and think, "YES. That's the next book I'm going to write." Once I had this idea, I really didn't want to think about any others, so instead I spent several days brainstorming it. Then I spent about a week writing the first three chapters.

And then I remembered I was supposed to be thinking of a new idea each daywhoops!

So while I didn't literally come up with a new idea everyday, I did have one of the best book ideas I've had in months, and that's what it's really about, right? Not just lists of ideas but uncovering a special idea.

What I liked about the challenge:

During the last month, I found I was intentional about pouring into my creative self. Because I was consciously looking for ideas, I listened to a lot of podcasts, questioned a lot of things around me, watched television differently.

How to take part:

If you want to participate in the challenge, you're welcome to do it on your own, or you can fill out the form below. Sometimes it helps to physically sign up for something. Makes it feel more official. You don't have to abide by the two rules I set for myself, if you don't want to. Make this challenge work for you!

When the month is over, I would love for you to send me an email telling me how the challenge went. You don't have to share any of your ideas if you don't want to, but just write me a few sentences about your experience.

Those who sign up for the challenge and send me the email at the end of the month will be put in a drawing for a $20 Amazon.com gift card!

This challenge is for writers of all ages in all countries.
You'll be able to sign up until the end of February 1st and then the form will close.











47 comments:

  1. Wow, this sounds like so much fun! I'd better get a notebook primed for February and all those ideas that'll be pouring in. I think having a Monthly Challenge will be great. :)

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    1. Any excuse to involve a notebook, right? :) I did the same thing, and I carried it around everywhere with me.

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  2. This sounds great! Monthly challenges sound awesome. Hopefully by the end of the month I'll have something golden!

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  3. This sounds like a cool idea . . . not sure if I'll join in for February, though. At the moment, I do not need more story ideas- I need to finish and edit what I've already written and write the ideas I already have.

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  4. This sounds fun! I'm afraid I'm not going to sign up this month, (sorry!), but I hope to do this when I'm not so busy with school. *groans inwardly* Senior year, y'know. 'Nuff said :P

    I tend to get like three story ideas EVERY DAY, and I have to scramble to get them all written down. I'm one of those writers who definitely does not lack in ideas! I try to write them down so that I will be assured that I'll be able to find them later. If I don't write them down, then I get distracted from my current WIP to go write something else, and then nothing gets done :P

    By the way, I really like this blog! I've just discovered it :) I love that there is a community of teen writers!

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    1. So glad you found us, Rosie! We love having new writers in the community :)

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    2. Thank you! :) Just a question, do you still do writing contests?

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    3. Not nearly as often as we used to. We're getting organized for a big one, so stay tuned!

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  5. I'm really excited for this, partly because I come up with soooooo many writing ideas, mainly when I am laying in bed, thinking (I've had some pretty cool ideas come up from the deep dark depths of my brain), and partly because this is the first challenge that I have participated in!



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  6. Ahh, I think this is exactly what I need! I struggle with coming up with story ideas. A lot. So putting aside some time to brainstorm future ideas -- even if they're just small quotes or concepts -- will really help. Thank you!

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    1. I was really amazed by the difference it made to be looking for the ideas. I hope the challenge is as helpful to you as it was for me!

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  7. I would love to take part in a challenge, but I'm not going to do this one. I already have way too many ideas! I also don't want to write down any new ideas, because I've found that my best ideas are the ones that stick around even when I don't write them down anywhere.

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    1. I've had times where I've felt that way too. But more and more I see value in documenting them as a place to go when the well feels dry. It's probably no coincidence that I've come to this decision as I've gotten older and my thinking feels a bit more scattered :)

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  8. I'm entering :) I'm currently working on editing two books and writing for the newspaper, but I don't currently have anything I'm actually writing. Which is something I'm craving. Thanks for the wonderful idea:)

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  9. This sounds so cool, I love the idea of it! Random new story ideas are constantly popping into my head, and now they'll actually have more of a purpose :D. I'm definitely entering!

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  10. I love the idea of monthly challenges!
    I don't usually have a problem finding ideas, so I think I'm going to spend February trying to plot one of my stories instead.
    Good luck to everyone else trying!

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  11. Monthly challenges sound like a lot of fun! Don't know if I'll take part in this one but I'm definitely looking forwards to these :)

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    1. We'd love to have you whenever it works for your schedule!

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  12. This is a great idea! I am going to be participating - mine will be ideas for poetry, as I am determined to write more this year!

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  13. Yay, this sounds fun. The problem with me is that I come up with a ton of ideas, but never write them down since I don't think they're The Idea, so I end up forgetting about them. This will hopefully help.

    And I also love how it doesn't take up that much time. I can still do revisions and write and still have time to think up of ideas. Thank you so much!

    ~K.A.C.

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    1. I love that too. Right now my computer time/writing time is so limited that I like having a challenge that doesn't take away from my already crunched work time.

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  14. Yay, this sounds fun. The problem with me is that I come up with a ton of ideas, but never write them down since I don't think they're The Idea, so I end up forgetting about them. This will hopefully help.

    And I also love how it doesn't take up that much time. I can still do revisions and write and still have time to think up of ideas. Thank you so much!

    ~K.A.C.

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  15. I am so excited to do this. I would love to have monthly challenges. I find that I write more and have better motivation when there are other people doing it too, or it comes from this site. If I do it alone, I have less drive to finish. I also loved the 100 for 100. I would love to do that again sometime!

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    1. Thanks for mentioning that, Cait! I'd like to do another round of 100-for-100 during the summer, I think.

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  16. This sounds like so much fun, Steph! Fun idea!

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  17. This is a cool idea--both the idea-gathering month and the idea of a monthly challenge. I think this month, though, I have to focus on ideas for helping my writing class get to the "finish line" (man, and I thought editing my books was hard...) and ideas for how to best rearrange my schedule, haha. :P Will definitely be checking out other challenges in the future!

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    1. We'd love to have you whenever it works for you, Amanda!

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  18. This sounds like a great idea, but right now I don't need to focus on gathering more ideas,( I do too much of that already!)I need to focus on writing the book I have currently going!

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    1. Totally get it! As I said in the post, once I landed on a big idea, I paused the challenge because I didn't want to lose my focus.

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  19. Ooooh, It's been so long since I got in on a challenge since I started working full time. I love this one! Still creative and getting me thinking without having to commit to writing so many words a day. Great idea!

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    1. I'm in need of that too, Maddie Jay! I'm glad it'll work for you!

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  20. I love the idea of monthly challenges! Could I come up with an idea each day for one specific project each day rather than for different stories? I really don't need more story ideas right now but I do need to work on a big project I'm fiddling with at the moment.

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    1. What a great modification of the challenge! I love that.

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  21. I'm participating! I've been seeing your articles on Pinterest and decided to check this blog out. I really like it, and it's giving me some great tips for my writing.

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  22. I think monthly challenges are a great idea! I'm interested to see what the other ones will be about. I'm excited to see what ideas I'll come up with during February's challenge.

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  23. I'm doing this, I need more ideas, but it's already the second in Australia.

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  24. This is such a cool idea! I'm definitely gonna give it a go. :)


    Alexa
    thessalexa.blogspot.com
    verbositybookreviews.wordpress.com

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  25. Bless you for coming up with this idea... I'm taking part with a group of writing-buddies & we are all messaging each other to keep the fun & creativity moving every day! Some sweet ideas have come out--and it's only the second day! (I'm chasing a possible plot idea & have written a few paragraphs already. I'm enjoying trying something new!)

    Thanks for being so encouraging!

    God bless, Hannah (plottingertwist.blogspot.com)

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