Monday, September 23, 2013

Writing Challenges

I've been wanting to write this post for a while, mostly because my memory is a shifty thing nowadays.


Where was I...

Right, well, by the time I remember there's a writing challenge I want to do, I've already missed half of it. So I'm compiling a list of writing challenges in one handy-dandy place. If I've missed your favorite, let me know and I'll add it to the list.

You think you got the chops to be a writer? Well do ya, punk? Then sign up for one of these challenges and show your mad skillz.

Dang kids and all their bling verbiage...

Monthly Challenges
Slice of Life Story Challenge - March
Every Tuesday during March, post a 'Slice of Life' story (Slice of life is a phrase describing the use of mundane realism depicting everyday experiences in art and entertainment). This challenge is also designed for writing classes in schools.
A to Z Challenge - April
" would start beginning April First with a topic themed on something with the letter A, then on April second another topic with the letter B as the theme, and so on until you finish on April thirtieth with the theme based on the letter Z. It doesn't even have to be a word--it can be a proper noun, the letter used as a symbol, or the letter itself. The theme of the day is the letter scheduled for that day."
Green Moms Network Blog Writing Challenge - April
Post as many times during the month as you feel comfortable. Use the provided topics. Members entered for awards.
Camp NaNoWriMo - July
Write 50,000 words during July. Awesome support system.
WriteNow Blog Challenge - August
Write a blog post every day for the month of August.
October Memoir and Back Story Blogging Challenge
This challenge is in your own creative hands with multiple options. The overall theme is Memories. This year (2013), blog on odd-numbered days and blog hop (reading each other’s posts) on even-numbered days.
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) - November
Write 50,000 words during the month of November. Awesome support systems.
StageofLife.Com Writing Contest
Each month, StageofLife.Com posts a writing prompt for everyone's different life stages. Prizes offered.
10 Day Writing Blogger Challenge
This challenge runs for 10 consecutive days, but will remain open to join in, for 5 months (JULY – NOVEMBER).
Insecure Writers Support Group
The first Wednesday of every month, post your thoughts on your blog. Talk about your doubts, fears, struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others and connect with your fellow writers.
Weekly Challenges
Trifecta Writing Challenge
Trifecta consists of two weekly challenges: one weekday prompt and one weekend prompt. - See more at:
Trifecta consists of two weekly challenges: one weekday prompt and one weekend prompt. Editors mention top three winners, while the top winner receives 'Trifecta Winner' logo for their blog.
Trifecta consists of two weekly challenges: one weekday prompt and one weekend prompt. - See more at:
What If? Weekly Writing Challenge
Every Sunday, What If? Weekly Writing Challenge will issue a challenge using a what if scenario. You have until Thursday at midnight, Eastern standard time, to get your post in.
So what are you waiting for? Get writing!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Reach For The Stars

Motivational Me, Circa 2010
In honor of the Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG) two-year anniversary, I started back to the gym today. Well... yes, I started going back to the gym, but not for that reason.

Three years ago, I took the Body For Life challenge. I lost an amazing 35 lbs. and felt great. I took a writer's workshop in St. George, Utah with David Farland and made lots of friends. Life felt like it was finally going in the right direction.

After three years of watching the scale climb past my beginning Body For Life weight, things are looking pretty bleak. I've developed Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and to complicate matters, I have teenagers. Which came first, the teenagers or the anxiety? You decide.

But I digress...

So, after encouragement from my doctor and therapist, I finally decided I really needed to go to the gym. My wife, knowing we both needed gym time, got us all squared away so we could start going again.

And then nothing happened.


Well, mainly my GAD kicked in because, lets admit it, the world--and life in general--is just better when you stay in bed all day. The biggest problem I was experiencing was failure to start.

'Tomorrow,' I'd say. Daily. Until I realized it wasn't true. I wasn't going to start unless I actually did it. So I decided to skip my morning refill, and start off slowly at the gym. And I enjoyed it, even though I was out of my comfort zone. Now I won't be able to beat myself up for starting. Now it's about continuing.

One of the things that motivated me to jump in was an address author Stephen Lovely gave to the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. He began by discussing several strong points that studies have found concerning mental health and creativity.

"First, the suicide rate among writers and artists in nearly 20% higher than the among the general population. Second, writers and artists are 10 to 20 times more likely to suffer from manic depressive illness than non-artists. Third, writers and artists are nearly 10 times more likely to experience major depression. The lives of writers are full of mental illness, mood disorders, psychosis, anxiety and hospitalizations. The only good news for we fiction writers, is that the poets suffer far worse.

The link between mental illness and creativity has been studied at length, and it's pretty clear that both share a genetic and/or neurological substrate, a common ancestor. Whatever genetic inheritance you received from your ancestor that predisposes you to be a creative writer, chances are that same inheritance may predispose you to suffer from mental illness. It's not that having a mental illness allows you to be a talented writer, but that being a talented writer makes you mentally ill. Don't laugh, plenty of people believe this.

. . . .

I want to tell you about a drug I take for this problem. A drug on which I've come to depend. This drug increases cerebral blood flow increasing the supply of glucose and oxygen and nutrients to the brain, while removing toxic substances. It improves the brain's performance increases alertness and attention and memory and the ability to process complex thoughts. It prepares and stimulates brain cells to bind together, even encourages the growth of new cells as you age, replacing dying cells And, get this, it alleviates depression and relieves stress and increases confidence.

It's a writers dream drug.

Do you know what it is? It's not Adderall, it's exercise, specifically aerobic exercise. In my experience, exercise has done more good for the sustained project of my writing than just about anything else."

So anyway, that hit me pretty hard, and I knew I needed to do something. It's all about finding balance, and when you don't have any, moving in a positive direction is a good thing.

Now I'm exercising. Are you?

To listen to Stephen Lovely's full address, download it from iTunes under the Writing University podcasts.

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