Write a tiny poem that is three lines long. Each line has to have exactly three words, and three words only.


The sun was
brighter than she
had ever seen.

Santa Fe, Texas: What Now?

After Parkland, you wrote, spoke out and testified. You marched. You walked out of your school. You wrote some more. You presented your words on stage and on radio and on TV. You joined your brothers and sisters -- in spirit, online -- in Parkland and from the streets of Chicago and Philadelphia and New York ... where every day young people die from gunfire. You raised awareness. In some places, you helped change laws.

And now this. Santa Fe, Texas. 10 dead in a high school shooting...

Ingredients for Laughter

We all know or have heard someone with a hilarious and very distinctive laugh ... Imagine laughter as having a recipe. What is a laugh made of? How do you mix the ingredients? What different mixtures make a giggle, a chortle, a guffaw? Who first taught you the ingredients of laugter? What extra spices do you add to make your uproarious laughter?

First Sentences

One of the best writers I worked with as a journalist was Bill O'Connor, then a columnist at the Akron Beacon Journal. Bill wrote about everyday people with unique, funny perspectives and stories. Bills skills were these:
  • He connected with his subjects and so drew from them great detail and open expression.
  • He chose his details well and sparingly
  • He used dialogue well
  • And he had great first sentences.
"Writing is easy," he'd say. "You just write one...


You open your backdoor not to find your backyard, but your favorite fantasy world. Maybe you’re in Narnia. Maybe you’re in Middle Earth. Write about what happens.

[Photo Credit: Hannah Neddo]


Share your best writing -- a story, a poem, a sudden spark of observation or insight or creativity. Anything. Sound. Image. Words. 


What's Next?-- Guns


The Vermont Legislature has passed sweeping changes in gun control. Click here to read about VT Gov. Phil Scott's plan to sign bill.  How do you feel about it?

And how do you feel about the recent demonstration against the restrictions in which hundreds turned out to get free rifle magazines and to protest the passage of the gun control bill? See video above.


Why Write?

Why write? Why do you write?
Some questions to get you started: Do you write to change something? To clear your mind? To release your anger, your emotions? What happens to your mind when you are writing? What do you write? What happens when you share what you've written? What happens when your writing is published? How does it make you feel?

And take a look at the video to your right to see why some others write.


YWP is...

The Challenge: "YWP is ..." what?  Finish the sentence. Tell us how YWP has affected you; talk about a comment you've gotten or of getting published or of having a civil space to create. Tell us how you felt when you posted your first piece. Tell us what works and what doesn't.  Take seven minutes, and tell us: 
  • something unexpected that happened here, or that you noticed here, at youngwritersproject.org,
  • or, a YWP moment that...


We are defined by moments in our lives. This challenge will have three parts:
  1. Click respond and make a list (using phrases only) of memorable moments in your life -- an injury, a new sibling, moving ... -- whatever comes to mind. Get as many down as possible.
  2. Share the list with a partner. Look at their list and ask them to tell you the story about the item that intrigues you the most. Switch -- have your partner ask you to tell a story from your list.
  3. Write about the...



For the next class, March 19, please bring a photograph or an object that helps you tell a story about an elder in your family or your community. If you don’t have an item or photo, think of a phrase they use(d) or a phrase you would use to describe them as the basis for your story. And try to talk to the elder before you come to class. 

This will be something we work on over several sessions. Our aim is to help you create a story of an elder that combines sound and an...


Did you March?

Tell us your story of March for our Lives. Did you march? Were you in Washington or some other city? Did you purposely stay away?

Share your story. Or emotions. Or photos. Or share a perspective that may differ from the majority.

Why did you participate. Why didn't you participate? What do you think should be done to make our schools, our public places, safer? Do you think gun access should be restricted? Why or why not? What should be done? Speak out!



In this challenge, look at (print out if possible) and fill in the embedded worksheet below by checking the appropriate Social Identities under each question.

Also consider which two Social Identity items are most important in your education.

Then look at the poem below and write a poem in a similar style, using your own most important social identities. 

By Patricia Smith 


Land of Free


America is known as the land of the free, home of the brave. Yet is still a very young nation. Imagine America as a child. What would you tell her or him? How would you describe their behavior? Would you invite America into your home and what for? What games would you play with America? What would you like to see this child learn to and to stop doing? How will you teach America a lesson? 
Write a letter to America as if America was a child. What would you say? 

Truth Traveler

If truth were a traveler 

Write a poem as Truth. You are truth embodied and personified. You are traveling the world. How are you greeted in different countries? In the forest? By the president? By your friends? By teachers in school? By strangers on the street? By the homeless? By police officers? By your parents? What do you see each day when you rise and look in the mirror? Describe your experience as you travel the world as living truth.


I am


I am the one who...

Finish the sentence, repeat it or extend it, turn it into a poem.

Feel free to paste in the poem you started when MGMC led your workshop at Edmunds.


Got me bent

You got me bent. What's got you annoyed, ticked off, angry? Tell a story. Or go on a rant.

Use specific detail (but don't use names) about something that happened, or an issue that has you riled up, or an injustice in your life. Could be small, could be large.

Feel free to share what you wrote at the MGMC workshop if you wish and start from there.


Super difference


What makes you different than others? What's the most important single difference? Now think about that difference as a power, a super power. How do you use it? Write about a time you could use it. Write a poem.

Share what you wrote in the workshop with MGMC if this the challenge you responded to. 



This challenge is for anyone who has a poem or who wants to write a poem about something other than the challenges here.

So click RESPOND, give it a title and genre, paste it in or create it in 'Body' and save.

As with all these challenges, give some feedback to your classmates.


The Girls

This challenge, The Girls, is inspired from hannahpanda23's amazing poem called "To the girls!"  I would highly encourage you to follow the link and read it if you need some inspiration.

Girls, write about what kind of girl you think you are. Boys (or gender nonconforming persons), write about the women and girls in your life, and how they have helped you.

Tag it with the hashtag...

MLK -- A reflection


This challenge will take some time. But it will be worth it. View either or both of the videos here and write what comes to you -- an essay, a reflection, a poem, a story, a rant. Whatever. Create visual art and share it. Create an audio piece. Again, whatever. Just react. Because 50 years ago, April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King was gunned down and his words remain relevant and important today. For all people.

The top video is the full sermon Martin Luther King made on Feb. 4,...

Then things got weird

Write a story that starts fairly normally but then goes off, becomes surreal or supernatural or just really odd. Have fun with it. AND don't think about it too much. Just go.



Take a photo of someone on a playground. Use the architecture to your advantage.
(Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, Livia Ball)


What's Next -- Climate


Watch this video. 

Write about what it makes you think. What are you going to do? What's next?


Zuckerberg speaks -- Reaction?


Facebook co-inventor and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday. The House members were a good deal more pointed and direct than the Senators.

Above is the near full version of his 6-hour testimony in the House. Below is a NYTIMES distillation of the Tuesday Senate hearing and below that the full version. Watch some of it. Speed through or sit for a while.  RESPOND and write your reaction -- a rant, a poem, a story, whatever.


Parkland: What can you do?

A compelling call for action by one of the survivors of the Parkland high school shooting. What can we do to stop these shootings from happening again?

(UPDATE: note that we have created more challenges related to the shooting. Go to https://youngwritersproject.org/challenges )


Parkland: A letter for the victims


Over time, the identities of the victims of mass shootings fade away and become a number, become a word. Think of the victims as individuals. Write a letter for one of them. Here is a link for summary bios of the 17 victims of the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.


Speak out: A letter to leaders


High school and middle school students around the U.S. are having their voices heard. Will it be enough? Will you be heard? Can you bring change?

Write a letter to your Senator, Congressman, state legislator, governor. Tell them what you think they should do. Post a copy here. 

ALSO, put the hashtag #writersforchange if you'd like to be part of a YWP community project to send a lot of writing to political leaders being...

Schools: Do you feel safe?


Do you feel safe in your school? Why? Or why not? Tell a story. Write a poem. Write an essay. Tell people what it's like when there is a Code Red drill.

/node/21164 /node/21167

Parkland: Do you feel you are being heard?


The difference in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida, shooting is that people are paying attention to articulate, passionate high school students. Does this give you hope? Do you feel you are heard? Are there other issues you feel you need to voice?


What's Next? -- April 20 School Walkout


Another National School Walkout Day is being organized, in memory of the students shot at Columbine High School.

Are you participating? Are you including discussion of and action around the broader issue of youth gun deaths in urban areas? 

Write about what you are planning, thinking, wishing -- or, when the day comes, what you did.  Include pictures and sound.



Listen to this sound. Now write about a transformative change this sound spurs in a character.

[YWP Photo Library; Photo by Shannon Ripp; Sound Credit Sounds of the Train]

Literary Nonsense

A great example of Literary Nonsense is the poem “The Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll (or really anything by Lewis Carroll). You use an odd object or idea to explain a large concept or philosophical question. In short, you make sense out of nonsense. Write your own literary nonsense poem. Maybe a teacup holds the secrets of life. Maybe what an apple and an orange have in common is their ability to explain why humans act the way they do.

[Photo Credit:...


Describe a place (a river valley, a mountain path, a beach) where you feel at peace. Why does this place speak to you?  [Photo Credit: Kevin Huang]


“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin” (Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis). Write your own story about a surprising transformation.


On your birthday, you wake up to discover a note next to your bed that says you now have the ability to sprout wings! However, that ability isn't totally under your control. Whenever someone says "fly," your wings appear — whether you want them to or not...  [Photo Credit: Bailey Kimball]


Attic. In the attic of your grandmother's house, you find a box labeled with your name. What’s inside? Do you tell anyone else about it or keep it a secret? Is it surprising, shocking, heart-warming, disturbing? Does it change your opinion about your grandmother or someone else in the family?



You are moving. You've finally...


Embarrassing. Write about your most embarrassing moment. Can you laugh about it now or is it still too painful?


Write a rant about your least favorite food. Don't be afraid to tell that unruly turnip or stinky dill pickle what you think of it.  [Photo Credit: Laura Cavazos]

New Year's Wish

What are some of your hopes and wishes for the coming year? Write of an intention for good or change in yourself or for others. 

Humor would be nice, too.



Create a poem using only the titles of books near you. Write it in seven minutes!

what's below

Write a short poem or story about what you think is below the water. Be as descriptive as you can! Have fun!


Write a letter to the president. Tell him one thing you want him to do – and why.


(Artist credit:​ Denys Almaral)


Social media

Imagine if all social media -- Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc.  -- shut down. Would that be a good thing or a bad thing? How would it affect your life?


(Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Mikayla LeBlanc)


InterWeb Surfs

A few minutes doing one of our favorite pasttimes -- spinning through some social media channel -- often gleans images or pharases or gifs that can be used to get you started on a story. So these little gems came from scrolling for five minutes on Twitter. And they yield some questions:
Why is that man wearing a red nose? And how did the burning Swastika get there? And what would Alice do with Dennis?
  • And, below, why is he jumping? what's the conversation between two women waiting...

Future Letter

CHALLENGE: Write a letter to someone in the year 2067. Tell them what's happening here -- in your life, in your community, in the world. Describe to them the technology you use. Or tell them what you hope the world will be 50 years from now. Or just tell a story that you think they would appreciate.






Write awful

Use cliches, mixed metaphors, tense changes, whatever you're not supposed to do when you write an essay.


(Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Molly Noel)


Write about a time when you felt completely invisible, literally or figuratively.


(Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Jessica Beliveau)

Real Americans

You are putting out a call to the "real" Americans (whatever that means to you).
Some things to consider....
Who are they?
What makes them real as opposed to others who may not be?
What is your call a call to do?
What do you want them to know?
What do you want them to do about the condition of the country?
How should they treat their fellow Americans?
Who will answer the call?

Turn around ...

You answer your phone and a voice whispers, "Turn around..." What happens?


(Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Will Barr)


Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were told last week that the Trump administration is prohibiting them from using seven words or phrases in official documents. The forbidden words are: “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.” (Washington Post, Dec. 15, 2017) What do you think of that? This challenge was sparked by today's Daily Read -- 7 Words by Icarus Blackmore. Read it...


Why have we become so uncivil to each other? Why can't we all just get along? Thoughts?
[Photo Credit: Aliya Schneider]


Vermont Writes Day is coming in February 2018! Write the challenges for YWP's Day of Writing (when everyone -- everyone! -- stops to write for just seven minutes.) Write one or a list of hundreds. A team of YWPers will select the best. (Exact date of VtWritesDay TBD soon!)


Spring Photo Contest

It's spring, and YWP wants your photos! Step outside and take some pictures of people, places, things... anything! If photography is not quite your jam, all scanned visual art is always welcome too, and considered on a level playing field.

Prizes include online and/or print publication in:
  • The Voice
  • The Crow on Medium.com
  • Burlington Free Press
  • Vermont Public Radio and Vermont Digger 
...as well as a...


You're sitting in the dentist's office and you hear a grumbling in your stomach. You look down toward your belly button to see ... Finish the story. [Photo Credit: Neil Williamson, Creative Commons] 


Create a planet like Earth, except there is one major difference (for instance, there is no gravity). What is that one difference? What is it like on the planet? Does it have a name? Who are the characters who live there? [Photo Credit: Nate Ertle]


Write the dialogue for a comical misunderstanding that happens between two people. Did someone mess up your order? Did your GPS send you to the wrong place? Did you buy the wrong thing at the grocery store? [Photo Credit: Ryan O'Leary]


Write about something you wish you had known when you were younger.  [Photo Credit: Kevin Huang]


If you could "bake" or create a best friend, what ingredients would they have? (A dash of humor, a cup of empathy?) Write your recipe.  [Illustration Credit: angela weasley]



Two characters you create make a...



Your character reaches in your...



Your character has been a person of...



A cat is wandering the way cats do...



Your character has been wearing...


Write a dramatic poem, dialogue or humor piece about the conversation between these cows.

[YWP Library; Photo by Grace Safford]


America today. Look at the people, events and issues we are facing now. Draw on inspiration from the life, works and values of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to write, compare, suggest a path forward. Or just rant.
#mlk #voices4change


Write a poem using a forest as a metaphor for either confusion or indecision. 

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Shannon Ripp]


Write one sentence that describes the sky today. Add a photo!



Every day you do it. You check your...

An ode to words ...

Take a view of this and then write something in which you appreciate the words you choose, play with the words, have fun with the words, make them sing.



Take five lines from books in your house, or five of your favorite quotes, and use them to make a poem. List the books or the origins of your quotes at the bottom of your piece. [Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library]



You meet a new friend and you two get along...



OK, so school's been out for a while,...



You’re standing in line for ice...



OMG STOP! A black...



Random word generator:...



Incorporate the line, “I was there when...



Go to a crowded place. Listen. Write...

Left Out


We've all had these moments when it...



You come across someone sitting on...



Think of someone you know, or...



What terrifies you? Tell a story...



Have you ever experienced...



What’s something that happened to you...



Write about one object that...



 Your character has a remote for...



A boy finds the courage to...



Your character wishes upon a shooting...



Your character can read...

Tic Tac


Overnight, your character shrinks...



Write a story inspired by this photo...



Why aren't elephants allowed...



Listen to the sounds of this river....








You feeling lucky? Go to http://www.myfortunecookie.co.uk/ and "open your cookie."

Tell us what your fortune says and us it to write a story, a poem, a rant, a lament. Whatever. Just go with what you're given.

Good luck!


My Vermont


Write a personal, true story about an experience, person or place that defines your Vermont. The best stories will be submitted to Vermont Life magazine and, if accepted, you will receive an offer of payment and be scheduled for publication. Word count: 300-750 words. 


Rant about the worst haircut you’ve ever gotten. What did you do about it?

(Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Kevin Huang, YWP Photoshop)

State of the Union

President Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union address. What did you think? What did you like? dislike? What did you think was missing? Write something. We want to know what you think. We want to know how the speech made you feel.