Inspiration is everywhere.
Where do find most of your ideas? Internally, through personal history and your own experiences and/or purely imagined? Or externally through the things you see, hear, and touch?
The November In Print Challenge is to expand your influences. If you usually write from your imagination, sprinkle some found information in the story. If you’re mostly influenced by the world around you, dig a little deeper in your own head. If you’re soundly in the middle, using both inside and outside yourself for ideas, your challenge is to identify the inspiration and focus solely on one side, then the other. Are you surprised what you come up with when you consciously think about what’s guiding your words?
How do you overcome all of the distractions that modern technology offers? Does the ability to dictate on your phone, type on your iPad, or have multiple screens open on your computer help you to be a better writer? Or are all of those applications additional interruptions, keeping you from the written word?
The In Print Challenge this month is to get back to basics. Reconnect with old fashioned – archaic? – pen and paper. Jot down some notes, feel the words literally flow from your mind through your hand to the page. Need to do research? Go to the library, look it up in a book. Put down the Kindle, pick up a paperback. There’s only so much we can do the old-fashioned way, but it’s important to remind ourselves from where we’ve come. It may help us appreciate what we’ve got now and where we’re going. Some of us have been writing long enough to remember before doc files and spell check. We might not want to trade those things, but every once in a while, it’s good to pick up a freshly sharpened pencil and feel the cool sheet of paper in your hand.
What are you afraid of? Spiders? Heights? Success? Failure? Those last two are really two sides of the same coin now, aren’t they? As writers we are faced with opportunities every day to both succeed and fail. How are you contributing to either? Not-writing is more of a failure than submitting an being rejected. Scribbling on the back of a bank receipt is more of a success than not getting down any words at all. To paraphrase a famous hockey player, “You miss 100% of the stories you don’t write.”
This month In Print challenges you to face a fear. Clean the basement. Climb a tree. Write something. Submit something. Whatever your phobias are, you can’t overcome them until you face them. Trust us when we say writing is easier than flying a place. It may even be easier than squishing that spider (more rewarding at least).
This month’s challenge is all about “time.” What would you do if you had more? What would you do if you had less? How would your priorities shift?
Now, consider how you spend your time in general and also how you spend your time specifically as an author. Does your writing get the time it deserves? Do you put it on the back-burner because there’s always something more important to do? This month, In Print challenges you to make writing a priority. Even if this is the month you’re taking the family to Florida. Or moving into a new house. Even if you’re in the middle of some major landscape renovations. Or planning a wedding. Keep that notebook and pen close at hand and give yourself permission to write!
To paraphrase Snoopy, June was a dark and stormy month. Let’s hope July gives us some pool weather! While you’re dipping your toes, take some time to dip into some prose too. The July In Print Challenge is to work on a blog. Blogging is akin to keeping a diary (only potentially more public). What are you willing to share? Journal your summer adventures with as few cliches as possible. Instead, focus on evoking emotion and put the reader in your moment. Write on a regular basis; once a week, every other morning, etc. Experiment with lengths, subjects and techniques.
Summer is here! Those lazy, hazy, crazy days are going to go by so fast and – before you know it – you’ll have to write that dreaded theme on “What I Did During the Summer”. This month’s In Print challenge is to get up and get out. Spring has been kind of a bust and most of us have probably spent a lot of it indoors. Now is the time to sample what the world has to offer. If you are writing about a place, take a “field trip”; gather fresh information on the sights and smells and sounds and incorporate them into your work. Spice up your characters with a sprinkling of reality from the people you see when you walk through your neighborhood, your town, or some far off place. This year when you write that theme paper, it’s not going to be all about yard work and summer jobs. This year it’s going to be great!
The In Print website is looking for guest bloggers. It’s not too late to begin the In Print ABC Blog Challenge. There is no time limit on when to begin or how often to post. Think of it as a new goal for your updates resolution! Send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The In Print Challenge for May asks, what have you done with your writing lately? Writers write, it’s what we do, but what do we do with what we write? We share with friends and family, we submit to journals or contests, we have it critiqued in group, and (mostly) we don’t do anything. This month, In Print challenges you to do something! Send a query letter, maybe a professional will want to see your pages. Enter a contest– publication, cash and notoriety are great ego boosts (and they look good on your writer’s resume). Take your turn in the critique group. Learning to share your writing is pretty important– get feedback from people you trust. You have the month of May to do something with your work. Good luck!
SPRING IS FINALLY HERE! Time to clean out those closets (to find your shorts and swimsuit, of course), but wait — what is that? A collection! You’ve found a treasure trove of collectibles! The April prompt is to write about a collection. Your story could be based on fact, or wish fulfillment. Is it a collection of baseball cards from your youth now worth thousands of dollars? Or a collection of hidden demon-calling paraphernalia (how’d those get in there)? Better figure out what you’ve found and what you’ll do with it in a thousand words or less.
It’s April and In Print has a reminder for you — not about your taxes being due, but to challenge you to update your challenges. Heading into the fourth month, how are your New Year resolutions? In Print challenges you to evaluate your progress and drop/add new writing goals. Did you bite off more than you could chew? Have you surpassed some goals? Use that evidence to create new goals. You know what you can do, you know where your weaknesses are — use that information to give yourself a good solid challenge. We’ll check back in August.
Spring is in the air… or at least within sight. Your In Print Challenge this month is to do a little Spring Cleaning of your writer files. Go through those beginnings that need endings, those chapters you put aside, poems you didn’t know what to do with and those short stories you meant to submit but didn’t get around to. Dust ’em off, edit them and find a new file for them– hopefully in publication digitally or In Print.
In honor (and anticipation) of March 20, the prompt assignment is to write about Spring. A perfect prompt for any genre, focus on the emotions that the new season inspires. Reminisce memoir-style, spin poetically, or conjure up some snow-melting, sun shining, windows wide open, buds emerging, spring cleaning inspirational short story. Keep your enthusiasm in check with a thousand words or less.
It’s not too late to begin the In Print ABC Blog Challenge. But if that’s not your writing challenge of choice, In Print wants to encourage you to discover your own challenge. It’s a new year (2013, who believes?!) and time to get serious about this writing thing. This months IP Challenge is to get YOU to commit to your own challenge! Are you going to finish that manuscript? Are you going to submit those poems for publication? Are you going to enter the In print Contests this year? Challenge yourself and then let us know! Share your goals so we can share your successes.