Creative Challenges for the Year
There are many events that occur throughout the year, from year-long challenges to events that happen only in one month, from set-your-own target challenges to daily objectives, and all can be used in some way to spur on your creative skills.
We’ve assembled a list of some of the most popular current challenges going on this year; choose one and flex your creative muscles while settling down to create a habit of creation. As this list contains challenges for various different disciplines, there are handy markers to let you see at a glance which ones might interest you.
|Denotes a writing-based challenge.|
|Denotes an art-based challenge.|
|Denotes a music-based challenge.|
|Challenge requires payment of a fee to officially participate in.|
WriYe (Writing Year) — The biggie, an event to keep you writing throughout the year, with many little one-off and recurring challenges throughout the month. If you want to grow a full-on writing habit, this is a good place to start.
85K90 (85K Writing Challenge) — A year-long endeavour, in rolling sections, that aims to have you complete, edit and release your novel into the world. Well worth trying if you are determined to finally get that book out into the light of day and need some targets to keep you going.
Spirits and Mortals — A weekly Instagram art challenge inviting you to draw the weekly item on the list and share it with the hashtag #spiritsandmortals.
NaJoWriMo (National Journal Writing Month) — This event runs several times a year and encourages participants to journal once a day for a month. To quote their page, “Journal writing will always remain a useful and reflective way to explore your life, record memories, and solve many of life’s challenges.”
February Album Writing Month — Write 14 songs in 28 days. Writing lyrics is an art all of its own and might be a worthwhile challenge for anyone looking to branch out into the most musical form of poetry.
RPM Challenge — A slightly different variation on FAWM, the RPM Challenge is to write either 10 songs or produce 35 minutes of recorded material, where all recorded material has to be done in February itself.
NaHaiWriMo (National Haiku Writing Month) — In the same lyrical vein of the music challenges, you can challenge yourself to produce a haiku a day for the month of February. They also offer daily prompts throughout the year.
Month of Letters — A fairly simple (in theory, if not in practice) challenge: write to someone every day of February. Everyone likes receiving letters, right? Although this one might eat into your budget with the price of stamps…
NaNoEdMo (National Novel Editing Month) — You wrote your novel in November, but now what? Now you’ve had a good break from the sight of it, you could do worse than try this month-long event, which challenges you to spend 50 hours turning your diamond in the rough into something polished and gleaming. If you’re not sure how to go about editing, this is a good place to find advice and support.
March of the Robots — A challenge that encourages you to post a robot drawing a day for the month of March to Instagram (#marchofrobots). Of course, there’s nothing to say that if you’re not artistically (or artistically robotically) inclined, you couldn’t use it as inspiration to write a short piece of related fiction a day…
Camp NaNoWriMo — The first appearance of NaNoWriMo’s off-season event where you can set your own writing goals, choose what you’re working on and camp out with your friends (or, if you prefer, complete strangers) in cabins while cheering each other on.
Blogging from A-Z — A challenge that encourages you to post a new blog post every day of the month aside from Sundays. These can be on any topic, from short musings to help and advice, to stories. Sign-ups open on the 1st March and close on the 6th April; visiting your fellow bloggers’ pages and leaving comments is highly encouraged — and is just a nice way to meet fellow writers too.
National Poetry Writing Month — Another poetry-writing challenge, this time to write 30 poems in 30 days. This could be a good one to combine with Camp NaNo, if you’re in need of inspiration, but might also make a fun change of pace from straight fiction or non-fiction for those more focused on other forms of writing.
NaJoWriMo (National Journal Writing Month) — This event runs several times a year (this is the second month) and encourages participants to journal once a day for a month. To quote their page, “Journal writing will always remain a useful and reflective way to explore your life, record memories, and solve many of life’s challenges.”
Story A Day — One that’s exactly as it sounds: write (and finish!) a story a day in May. There are optional writing prompts and advice from authors throughout the month, and the best part of this is you don’t have to post your stories if you don’t want to… just write them.
NaNoMangO — This venerable challenge has the goal of creating 30 pages of comic in 30 days. It’s a fun one to try, but if you’re not artistically inclined you could try a personal challenge to script 30 pages of a comic in the same time.
JuNoWriMo — Much like NaNoWriMo, this event dating back from 2012 challenges you to write 50,000 words in June. If it tickles your fancy, then registration opens on the 1st April.
Camp NaNoWriMo — The second appearance of NaNoWriMo’s off-season event, just in case you couldn’t manage it in April — or you fancy another go at it.
The 50/90 Challenge — Not exactly a single-month challenge, but still an interesting one: a “marathon of songwriting” with a fairly explanatory name where between 4th July and 1st October participants attempt to write a colossal 50 songs in 90 days.
NaJoWriMo (National Journal Writing Month) — This event runs several times a year (this is the third month) and encourages participants to journal once a day for a month. To quote their page, “Journal writing will always remain a useful and reflective way to explore your life, record memories, and solve many of life’s challenges.”
31 Plays in 31 Days — Another self-explanatory name, this challenge encourages participants to write 31 complet plays in 31 days. In much the same way as poetry challenges can give you an opportunity to flex your creative muscles in new, different ways, so can the experience of writing a play or 31.
Smaugust on Twitter and Instagram — The challenge to draw a dragon a day for the month (although if art isn’t your forte, then again, you could try using it as inspiration to write a story a day about a dragon instead).
3 Day Novel Contest — You have three days in which to write a complete novel; “the actual writing must begin no earlier than 12:01 a.m., on the Saturday of the Labour Day weekend, and must stop by 11:59 on the following Monday.” This is a paid contest with a registration fee of $35/$50, but if you aren’t planning on entering, you could still try the event unofficially.
Sketchtember – A challenge to draw a sketch a day. Even if you’re not keen on drawing, sketching can help loosen up your ideas before you write, so it might be worth a try.
Shiptember — Draw a picture of a favourite couple or pairing a day for September, although for those not artistically-inclined you could try writing a brief story or written sketch featuring your favourite characters.
24-Hour Comics Day — A 24-hour challenge to draw 24 pages of a comic, from midnight to midnight, held on the first Saturday of the month. Possibly not one for the faint-hearted.
Inktober — A long-running art challenge designed to get participants drawing in ink. There’s an optional prompt list you can follow or not as you prefer, and again, if you’re not a fan of drawing, something in the prompts might inspire a story.
Drawlloween — A Hallowe’en-themed set of art prompts that, again, might just inspire a little something in the writing field instead.
OctPoWriMo (October Poetry Writing Month) — A poetry challenge encouraging participants to write 31 poems in 31 days, with optional prompts.
NaJoWriMo (National Journal Writing Month) — This event runs several times a year (this is the fourth and final month) and encourages participants to journal once a day for a month. To quote their page, “Journal writing will always remain a useful and reflective way to explore your life, record memories, and solve many of life’s challenges.”
Write Non-Fiction In November — If you want to write in November but you’re focusing on non-fiction instead and don’t want to be a rebel, then there’s always this event, which challenges you to start and complete a work of non-fiction in November. This is an honour-system style event rather than tracking word counts, but if you need a little encouragement to get that uni coursework finished, this might help.
National Solo Album Month — November is the month of big challenges and this one is no different: write, record and release a solo album in November. Again, not a challenge for the faint-hearted, but if you’re fond of your music it could be just the kick you need to get creating.
NaNoMangO — For those not wrestling with writing, NaNoMangO has a second outing (this one being the original event). If you’re not taking part in NaNoWriMo and you’re looking for an art-based challenge, then 30 pages of comics in 30 days might be your thing.
NaNoFiMo (National Novel Finishing Month) — Reached the end of November and you haven’t finished your novel? NaNoFiMo tasks you with writing 30,000 words and finishing your NaNo novel. A worthy goal, if you’re determined to keep on riding that November energy right to the end.
dELFcember — An art challenge inspiring participants to draw an elf a day in December (Christmas elf or otherwise).
Challenges to do at any time
Scribendi’s 30-Day Writing Challenge — Scribendi offer 30 days of small writing prompts designed to get you into a writing habit and help you flex those writing muscles a little.
Write A Book In A Day — A paid challenge supporting The Kids’ Cancer Project, it asks participants to pick a date between 8am 1st June and 8pm 31st August and write an entire book in a day. Submission of your story will grant them a non-exclusive license to it for two years.
Have we missed something?
If we’ve forgotten one of your favourite challenges or you’re starting up of your own, drop us a line and let us know so we can add it to the list.