Start a story or poem with a character finding a note that totally surprises them. What does the note say? Keep the story going when the note is read and put down. [Photo Credit: Emma Parizo]

New Word

Create a new word and describe it. Explain its meaning, origin, why it's useful, how you could use it. [Challenge created by ZoeBee, YWP] [Photo by Nathalia Rosa, Unsplash]


If you could relive one day of your life over and over –  a la "Groundhog Day," the Bill Murray classic – which one would it be? What made the hours so special to you, or what situation from your past would you try to improve upon? [Photo credit: "Afternoon Sledding," by Vicarious, YWP]

Interpret Poetry

[Edna St. Vincent Millay portrait by Rhys Rountree: Robert Frost by Laura Schaner, Crossroads Academy]
Create visual interpretations of your favorite poems and poets. This challenge came to YWP from English teacher Steven Glazer at Crossroads Academy, Lyme, NH, as part of National Poetry Month organized every April by the Academy of American Poets to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry.


What makes you happy? Take a photo of it, write a poem, paint or sketch it. This challenge was inspired by the photo above and the poem, “Happy,” by Inkpaw. [Photo credit: Inkpaw, YWP]


Choose a visual subject; the choice is yours. Before you pick up your camera, consider the person, place, or thing from every angle. Use these observations to brainstorm 3-5 differing focuses, moods, or messages you’d like to convey, then photograph your subject accordingly through a variety of perspectives. If you prefer, just post your favorite photo from this experiment. Check out JhermayneU's Quokka photo series here as an...


[Photo: Minneapolis, 6/5/20, Victor J. Blue/The New York Times]
Support for the Black Lives Matter movement has leaped forward since the death of George Floyd in police custody on May 25 ("Public Opinion Rarely Moves Fast, but It Has on Black Lives Matter," New York...

Letter to Me

Write yourself a letter about the things you've missed and what you've noticed or observed during the pandemic. Return to the letter a year after the pandemic has ended, and expect to feel a rush of gratitude for even the smallest, seemingly insignificant things. [Challenge inspired by A 12-Year-Old’s Letter to Her Post-Pandemic Self, New York Times, Dec. 30, 2020]


By chance, you stumble across the doorway to another world. You’re incredibly curious, but you don’t know if what’s on the other side is good or bad. It’s up to you to decide – right now! – whether to open the door or run the other way. What happens? [Photo credit: Alexandra Gamanus, Unsplash]

First Line

Write the first line of a story you haven't written yet. Fingers crossed, it will catch on and others will click SPROUT at the bottom of your post and add a second line, a third and on and on! Watch for other writers' first lines and SPROUT from them too. If you need inspiration, go here for some famous first lines!


It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
–  George Orwell, 1984



Say Happy Father's Day in words, photos or art – a memory, an observation, a story. [Photo by Brittani Burns on Unsplash]

Abecedarian Poetry

With abecedarian poetry, each line or stanza begins with the first letter of the alphabet and is followed by the next letter, from A-Z. A form of acrostic poetry, the abecedarian poem's first letter of each line spells out the entire alphabet. Try it! If you're short on inspiration, listen to Episode 3 of Line Break, where eyesofIris interviews LadyMidnight about her abecedarian poem, Lost and Found.  Other examples of abecedarian poetry from...


One might define serendipity as the phenomenon of something just-perfect “falling into your lap” while not being deliberately sought after. Unlike luck or a more general good fortune that could apply to anyone, serendipity is specific enough to you that it might even feel fated. Write about such an instance in your life or make it fiction! [Photo credit: Cloudkitty, YWP]

Word Choice

View this short piece and write something in which you appreciate the words you choose, play with the words, make them sing.



Every ending is just a new beginning. Try creating a new piece of art to reflect that! Start with the last line of your last poem, favorite poem, or something that you think holds creative potential and use that as your first line. See where it takes you! [Challenge by queenlalaladaisy] [Photo by Jan Tinneberg, Unsplash]


We all have scars, both physical and figurative. Tell the story behind a scar, either your own or your character’s. Include the aftermath if you like. Were there lessons learned, an epiphany, a transformation? [Photo credit: YWP Media Library, art by Eloise Silver Van Meter]

Character 1: Brainstorm

Whether you're writing a script for a play, short story or a novel, it is important to have well-developed characters and an intriguing plot. Let's start brainstorming around characters.
  • Think of your favorite books and movies. Why do you like your favorite character? Why does the storyline really grip you? The answers to these questions should help you create your own story.
  • Create a list of responses to these prompts: I am fascinated by people who…OR If you already have...


Paint, photograph, or describe in words, the color blue. [Art credit: cedar, YWP]

Understanding Character-Monologue

Choose one of the prompts below and write as though your character is talking to him/herself or writing in a journal or diary. Take a moment to get into the mindset of the character. Set a timer and write for seven minutes.
Prompts: No one really knows me...
I'm the one who...
I'm only really myself when...

Return to Workshop-Understanding Character for the next challenge!


What is the most “useless” talent you can imagine someone having? For example, double-jointed thumbs, speedy knot disentanglement, or exotic cat breed identification. Write a short story about a character who finds the chance to use their special ability to solve a problem or even save the day. [Photo credit: Aaron Thomas, Unsplash]


[Washington, DC, June 6, 2020. Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images]
Liberty and justice for all. These words in the Pledge of Allegiance hold the promise of hope and change. How can the promise become reality?


[Photo credit: Aaron Burden, Unsplash]
A new year, a new friend, a new book, a favorite new toy of your childhood. Think about the sensation of newness. Use all your senses to describe the feeling.


The concept of a “life remote” has been explored in movies, TV shows, and books over the years. If you could, what would you do with a device that allowed you to pause, fast-forward, rewind, or otherwise experiment with reality as it corresponds to a button? [Photo credit: Erik Mclean, Unsplash]


[Photo: James Day, Unsplash]
Some people thrive in the summer sun, while others positively melt! Write a poem or story that takes place on a bright, cloudless day of scorching temperatures, and be sure to touch on how you or your narrator respond to the heat.


Haiku is a short form of poetry adapted from Japanese tradition, usually based on observations of the natural world and written in the present tense about a present moment. A haiku has three lines of 5-7-5 syllables. Try it! Focus on a tiny detail – a color, a texture, a movement. Create a haiku by describing, literally or figuratively, that detail in just 17 syllables. [Photo credit: Melittophily by emiliaw._]


[Photo credit: Rachel Nickerson, Unsplash]
Five things I learned in 2020 ... Take five quick minutes to list five (more or less if you like) new discoveries you made in the past year, pandemic-related or not! Come back later to expand on favorites or leave it as a list that you can reflect on in a year or two.

All Hallows'

It’s said that the veil between the living and the dead is thin at Halloween. Tell a story that revolves around the thin veil. Try to make it descriptive and suspenseful, ghostly but not gory. [Photo credit: YWP Media Library, art by jwu1]


Where has civility gone? Write about Civility as a fictional character. Civility might just disappear one day and never return, or they might gather enough courage to vanquish incivility. Use your imagination to tell the story. [Photo credits: Andre Hunter, Randalyn Hill, Unsplash]


Sometimes photos or poems will make you guess what the big picture is really about. Write or take a photo about something that will make the reader think more about what they're looking at! [Challenge created by EverlastingWaves] [Photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann, Unsplash]


The English language relies heavily on phonetics and sounds. In the distant past, when people were without dictionaries, they made up word spellings according to the sounds they heard; somehow our brains were able to understand them. Write a poem, prose poem, verse, or riddle using word spellings that read a little wacky or silly but do not alter their meening. [Challenge created by Treblemaker; photo credit: Nick Fewings, Unsplash]...

Character 2: Develop

Answer the following questions to create profiles of each character:
1. Who are your characters?  
2. What do your characters want in their lives? What are their needs? Wishes? Dreams?
3. What are your characters' hatreds and loves?
4. How do these characters spend their time?
5. Where do you see these characters? What is the setting (time and place)?  
6. What are some physical characteristics of the characters: age, facial features, style of clothes, eating...


If you could speed up the process of evolution, what physical characteristic(s) would you gift mankind? In what ways would it benefit you in your own environment, or further the entire human race? Describe the new trait in detail when you identify it. [Photo credit: YWP Media Library, illustration by cedar]

Understanding Character-Bedroom

A character's (or a person's) bedroom often reveals quite a bit about who that person is, on a deep level. Let's explore the bedroom of your character, to get a feel for what is important to them.
Step 1: Imagine you are standing in your character's bedroom. What do you see? Make a list. Include posters that might be on the walls, photos around the room, furniture. Is there a bulletin board and if so, what's on it? Open drawers in the desk or dresser and look at what's inside. Find a...


Someone wants to tell you something “because you’re the only one who will understand.” Tell us the story. Are you simply known as a great listener? Do they seek your advice in solving a delicate problem? Include the outcome of the interaction by the story’s end. [Photo credit: Emiliano Vittoriosi, Unsplash]


[Photo: Mauro Mora, Unsplash]
What are you surprised that you miss during the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic?


[Photos: New York Times, Washington Post]
"Did your teachers talk to you about what happened at the Capitol," on Jan. 6? asks LadyMidnight in Tiny Writes. Find the conversation thread in Tiny Writes (posted 01/07/2021 - 9:31pm) and respond there – or here. 


What is one thing you wish people would stop assuming about you, and why? How would you change their minds, if you were pressed to, or how have you learned to shake off their misguided judgments? [Challenge created by Treblemaker, YWP; Photo: Kevin Huang, YWP Media Library]

I am ...



Write a description of a place, person or event in 3-5 paragraphs without using any adjectives. Finding the right noun – instead of piles of adjectives – will improve your writing, allowing you "to show, not tell." For this exercise, you can either jump in and try writing adjective-free or you can take two steps: write the description with adjectives, then strip them out, and revise by choosing stronger nouns that describe on their own. You'll see the importance of word choice,...


The Earth has run out of resources, and you have one last day on the planet before the world’s population is to be relocated to a space colony. How do you spend your last day on Earth? [Challenge created by fire girl; photo credit: Dominic Brügger, Unsplash]



Your character has been a person of routine, following the...


Write for someone you know. Keep that person in mind as you tell them a story or write a poem specifically for them. By making your writing accessible to that person – their character, feelings, experiences – you might find yourself being more true to yourself, more engaged, a better writer. [Photo by Paul Garaizar, Unsplash]



People create podcasts about just about anything, based on their own niche interests – think bug-collecting, paranormal mysteries, and local eats. What subject fascinates you enough to narrate your own podcast? Need inspiration? Listen to Line Break, YWP’s podcast on writing by eyesofIris! Upload your podcast on your YWP blog! Or contact eyesofIris and propose and Episode of Line Break with her!...

Character 3: Dialogue

Based on the first two sections of this workshop, let's get the characters talking. Imagine that two (or more) of your characters find themselves together in a setting of your choice. Remaining true to each character's personality/interests/needs, what would they say to each other in this situation? Would one would dominate the conversation? Would one be funny? Boastful? Anxious? Deceptive? Show who they are through their dialogue. Don't overthink and write quickly to capture the mood.


[Photo credit: Shane Rounce, Unsplash]
What or who are you most grateful for? Write a thank you note, a poem of appreciation, or a gratitude list.

Understanding Character-Dialogue

We can learn a lot about a character through their interactions with other characters: what they say, how they say it, and what is said to them. Let's explore our characters by delving into a dialogue with another character. Characters reveal themselves by their actions and by their interactions with others. We find out more about them by what (and how) they say to others AND by what others say to them. In this exercise you will start out writing a dialogue in play form (i.e. Character 1: blah...


You're in a hurry so you take a shortcut down an alley you’ve passed by many times. Halfway along, you see someone or something unexpected – not something dangerous or frightening, but surprising and intriguing … What happens? [Photo credit: Jorge Gardner, Unsplash]

Angelou's America

[Illustration by Sophie Herxheimer, Poetry Foundation]
Read this poem by YWP's Roses – inspired by poet Maya Angelou's poem, America. If you're inspired, write your own poem about America. Learn more about Angelou's life and poetry, here from the Poetry Foundation.



[Photo: Janis Fasel, Unsplash]
In the poem, Boat, by AvaClaire, we are introduced to Tilda, "with a tangerine hat and blueberry coat." Sprout from AvaClaire's poem and write about Tilda and her adventures.


[Photo credit: Samur Isma, Unsplash]
It’s never too early to write your bucket list! Pick one thing from your list to elaborate on. Reveal its importance to you and a way to achieve it. If you’re stuck, think about countries to visit, future creative accomplishments, or wild experiences like bungee jumping!


[Photo and challenge by JhermayneU]
Celebrate the color yellow! Photograph or paint or color anything yellow and share your work with YWP! This challenge was inspired by the photos of new YWP community member JhermayneU.


Phew, you made it! Describe the full-body, all-encompassing sensation of relief. No need to explain the backstory, take us into the immediate moment. [Photo by Ryan Moreno, Unsplash]


Are you afraid of the dark? Let the fear of whatever may lurk in the absence of light, real or imagined, spark your creativity. [Photo credit: YWP Media Library, art by cedar]


Begin or end a new piece with this line: “For the first time, I was beginning to understand what life is all about.” [Photo credit: Kevin Huang, YWP Photo Library]


[Photo credit: Ilya Ilford, Unsplash]
Pick a stationary object, and place it near a source of natural light. Take pictures of it periodically through the day. When you're done, try to identify areas of lighting: front (flatter, lacks shadows and highlights); side (more depth with well-defined shadows and highlights); and back-lighting (emphasis on silhouette). Post your photos in a slideshow. [Challenge...


Write an ode to something, not someone. Challenge inspired by "Ode to a Pepper Plant" by Ice Blink.


A flashbulb memory is one that persists vividly in your mind, often because it was emotional or consequential. Pick a flashbulb memory from your past, and write the story as if you are reliving it right now. Provide lots of details! (More on flashbulb memories here.) [Photo credit: Digital art by cedar, YWP]

Character 4: Setting

Where do you see your characters in this story? What is the setting (time & place)?
  • If you have trouble visualizing the setting, look for a photo that best captures where you imagine your characters to be.
  • What are the main characteristics of this place?
  • What is its name? Real or imagined?
  • Do your characters live there, or are they just passing through?
  • What do your characters do there?
  • Remain true to the characters you've developed.


What gives you so much joy that you cannot help but dance in response to it, even if only for a moment? If you prefer not to focus on yourself, write about a character who experiences something so unexpectedly wonderful that they find themselves twirling. Bonus points for describing the moves! [Photo credit: YWP Media Library, photo by Crescent_Moon]

Understanding Character-Thoughts

Dialogue is a great entry point into your character's attitudes and thoughts. Let's take it a step further, and think about what was going on in their head throughout this encounter.

Go back to the dialogue you created in the previous challenge, Understanding Character-Dialogue. Copy the text into your response here, and add some thoughts the two characters are having. Focus on what your character was thinking; the reactions, reasoning, emotions--anything....


Write about a character who switches bodies with someone else, much like the mother and daughter in the movie "Freaky Friday." What has made this possible? If it was a conscious decision, who did they switch with and why? How do the two characters come together, if at all? Are they switched back? [Photo credit: YWP Media Library, photo by Anna]


[Photo: Mick Haupt, Unsplash]
"It was just at dusk when ..." Begin with or include this phrase in a story or poem.

Great Poets

[Art by Alden Bond, YWP]
This challenge flows from a series called THE GREAT POETS CHALLENGE started by YWP's Nightheart to help you discover new poets, explore their styles and become inspired by their works! Find out more here, and respond anytime to any of the great poets. Just include the poet who inspired you at the top of your piece.


[Photo credit: Marco Mons, Unsplash]
Write a persuasive argument about the existence of extraterrestrials and/or their past visitations to Earth. Be as descriptive and specific as possible. What do they look like? Where have they visited? How do you know this?


[Photo: Joshua Hoehne, Unsplash]
Begin or end a poem or story with this phrase: “Don’t lie; I know it was you.”


Begin with this phrase, "It all started when ..." Fiction or nonfiction, poetry or prose. [Photo by Matt Duncan, Unsplash]


[Photo credits: Marius Ciocirlan and Taylor Friehl, Unsplash]
The setting of any piece of writing can have a major impact on its overall tone. Choose a seasonal location that invokes the general mood of fall or winter, such as a pumpkin patch or skating pond. In this piece, include details such as weather, hours of daylight, holidays that help describe the seasonal setting, etc. ...


[Photos and challenge by Erin Bundock, YWP alumna]
Tonal contrast – the difference between the brightest highlight and the darkest low-light – can make dramatic photos. Try taking photos of objects using high contrast lighting -- the whitest whites and the darkest blacks all contained in one space. Post at your photos in a slideshow. Need some tips?...


Everyone has different personality traits that are specific to them. Pick one personality trait and personify it. What would courage act like? What would desperation say? Try to make these attributes come to life. [Challenge by Geri K.] [Photo by Lawless Capture, Unsplash]


Without the distraction of color, black-and-white photos can be compelling images. In tones of gray, ranging from white to dark, capture a mood or tell a story through photos. [Challenge inspired by laurenm’s photos above.]

Character 5: Conflict

Now is the time to begin formulating your complete story. To get the story going with energy, start writing at the climax of the story.
  • What is the conflict between the characters? A conflict can also be between a character and themselves, or between a person and nature. Let's make this one person to person.
  • How does this conflict grow?
  • How does it finally “explode” between the characters?
Try to write about something unexpected happening.


Write about a character who has a secret, or about a secret you once held and later revealed. [Challenge created by Crescent_Moon; photo credit: Sai De Silva, Unsplash]

Understanding Character-Setting

Settings may seem very different from characters, but in most stories, they play off of each other, deepening your understanding of each. Let's look into the setting around your character, and see what we can find.

Think back to the bus stop where your dialogue is taking place. Where is this bus stop? What time of year is it? What year is it? You can choose a place you're very familiar with or one you wish you knew. Also think about how the bus stop relates to your character--is it a...


Imagine a scenario in which you or a character must make a tough decision between right and wrong. While the angel on one side of your shoulder is pushing you toward the obvious moral, humane action, the devil on the other side is countering every word and tempting you to put yourself first. Describe the story. [Photo credit: Vladislav Babienko, Unsplash]


[Photo: John Salvino, Unsplash]
They say that elves and fairies live there. You decide to go exploring. Write a fantastical fairy tale about what you find on your journey.

Share your writing challenge ideas!

[Photo credit: YWP Media Library, knmarcot]
Brainstorm with us! Help YWP create new, ORIGINAL writing, photo and art challenges! Use only your imagination. No Googling, please!


What we said and did that day was unbelievable. Incorporate this phrase in a poem or story, at the beginning, middle, or end. [Challenge created by Pepperoni, YWP; Photo credit: Kevin Huang, YWP Media Library]


[Photo: Manan Chhabra, Unsplash]
Think about a habit you’ve tried to leave behind – and fictionalize it. Write about a character's struggles with this habit, expanding on their thought process as they try to quit. Consider possible roadblocks along the way as well as the benefits of relinquishing this behavior.

Fan Fiction

Place yourself in one of your favorite fictional tales. What kind of adventures or trials are you and your beloved characters facing today?


You are the country mouse who has never ventured beyond your own rural community, but out of necessity, you must travel to the city for the first time. Describe the experience – sights, sounds, smells, mishaps and misunderstandings, delights and fears. [Illustrations by cedar, YWP]

Negative Space

With photos, it's important not only to think about what your subject is, but how it interacts with the space around it visually. Is there something in the background, or is it a solid color? What's the shape of the space surrounding your subject? In the simplest terms, positive space is your subject, and the negative space is what surrounds it. Take a few photos and be conscious of the negative space -- will it enhance your photo or detract from it? Post your best! Need examples?...


Read this article from The New York Times: "What I Saw in Yosemite Was Devastating." Is there a similar natural place in your life that has altered since you were younger due to climate change? Research it – read local newspaper articles, talk to your neighbors, etc., and write your own op-ed about the devastating effects of climate change on our so-called...


Take a photo of food – it could be your favorite food or just what is on the table today. Think of it artistically. You might arrange it professionally, as Cloudkitty does in this photo, Garden Board, or just the way you like to eat it – a messy PB and J sandwich or a sloppy bowl of spaghetti.

Character 6: Final

You've worked hard to get to this point. Congratulations! Take some time to review your notes on brainstorming and developing the characters and setting.
You may want to start an entirely new draft from scratch, or go back and add, tweak, delete, or otherwise change what you posted in Character 5: Conflict. It's up to you!
Remember to keep your readers in mind: Hook them early. Jump into the tension as quickly as possible. And think of your story as a slice of life, not an entire...


Imagine you are talking to the coronavirus (hypothetically, you know, if a disease could talk). What would you say to it? [Challenge created by NiñaEstrella; photo credit: United Nations COVID-19 Response, Unsplash]

Understanding Character-Final

Now that you know who your character really is, let's bring it all together by creating a full story. You now have a character who believes something (monologue) and you know a little about the way he/she lives (bedroom) and thinks. Now, try writing the scene at the bus stop as a story. Include some of the character's thoughts and details about the place. Make your story show some conflict and, if you can, some of what your character wants/believes/is passionate about.

You may want...


End a poem or story with this inspiring quote from late author Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.: “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.” [Photo credit: Kurt Vonnegut, Common Dreams]


[Photo and challenge by Crescent_Moon]
Take a walk. Take photos. Share them on YWP!


[Photo credit: Kevin Huang, YWP Media Library]
Sprouting from Frostbite's poem, A Child Forever, imagine a world where no one ever lost their child-like wonder, curiosity, and joy. Describe that world or a day in the life of a character in that world.


When Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993, she was honored for the “visionary force and poetic import” of her novels through which she “gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.” In honor of Morrison's birthday this week (02/18/31), take some time to get to know – or read again – this iconic novelist of the Black experience with such award-winners as “Song of Solomon” and “Beloved.” If you're inspired, share your thoughts about Toni Morrison's...


The sky is blue, the temperature is just right, and the birds are singing above. You lay out a blanket by your favorite tree and look up to watch the clouds. This is your view. Where does your mind drift off to? [Photo credit: YWP Media Library, photo by Alessandra G.]


Think of someone you know, or someone you've seen. Write about ONE feature of that person. Perhaps it's a feature of their face or a unique way of walking or talking; perhaps it's something they wear often – a charm bracelet, muddy sneakers, paint-splattered jeans. What’s the story linked to that one feature? [Photo Credit: Alexander Krivitskiy, Unsplash]


You are weaving a beautiful fabric to make into a garment for yourself. Your loom can weave with any substance you wish: the sneeze of an ant, the roar of a river, the fog of London. What would you include in your fabric, and why? What strengths or symbolism would these materials hold for you? [Challenge created by Treblemaker; photo credit: YWP Media Library, photo by amaryllis]


[Credit: Kevin Huang, YWP Photo Archive]
Is anyone listening? Send an urgent message about climate change so people will sit up and pay attention.

General/Free Write

[Illustration: JR Korpa, Unsplash]
Write about anything in any genre. Add photos if you like. Be free and fearless!


Go to one of your most cherished places and show – through a photo or series of photos – why it is so special to you. Sketch, paint or write about this place if you prefer. [Photo credit: Crescent_Moon, YWP]


[Challenge by Scarry Night; Photo by Crescent_Moon]
What is the best thing that has happened to you in this time in our homes during social distancing? Why is it the best?


What sounds like music to you? Waves crashing on a beach? Rap? A mourning dove in the evening? A symphony? Is there a kind of music that fills you up and just makes you want to dance or makes you feel content? Write about the music that is special to you. [Challenge created by EverlastingWaves; Photo credit: Kevin Huang, YWP Media Library]


[Photo: Nicholas Punter, Unsplash]
Imagine that you are walking along on your usual route to school and something strange catches your eye. It's a big, golden door. You're sure that it's never been there before. You look around. You're the only one on the street. School is starting in 10 minutes, but ... What do you do?


Revisit something you entertained yourself with as a kid, such as a movie, book, cartoon, or board game. How does it make you feel, now that you’re older? Whether it stirs up pleasant memories or leaves you feeling cold, write about the experience. [Photo credit: YWP Media Library, photo by Cloudkitty]


[Photo: Marina Vitale, Unsplash]
Begin or end a poem or story with this phrase, "Open your eyes ..."

Pandemic: One thing

[Art by cedar]
Mark the one-year "anniversary" of the pandemic with the one thing that stands out for you – in any genre or format you like, poetry, essay, song, photo, sketch, or even just one word.


Write a poem, story, or essay related to the word “letter.” [Challenge created by Doctor Who; Photo credi: Andrew Buchanan, Unsplash]


[Photo credit: Matt Howard, Unsplash]
This is it – you’ve made it. Through more trials and tribulations and blisters than you can count, you’ve traversed a hundred miles and now reached the end of your journey. Why have you come, and what or who is waiting for you?


What we're seeing is more than a heat wave (record-breaking 108+ degrees in Pacific Northwest). Let's talk about climate change and how to cope. Read Yellow Sweater's The Earth and the Sun and Washington Post Opinion by Charlie Warzel, June 29,2021...


Write a love story, real or imagined, told through poetry or short fiction. [Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia, Unsplash]


[Challenge by PeachesMalone, YWP; Photo credit: George Hiles, Unsplash]
Choose a time period that interests you and write a story about the way you would live in that time. Would you love riding in a horse-drawn carriage or would you hate it? Would you listen to radio dramas or read books? What would your life be like? 


Weather as a topic of small talk or awkward conversation is a well-known cliché. Incorporate weather into the dialogue of two or more characters in a way that signifies it as the supremely serious subject driving the interaction. Alternatively, write a poem about weather in a grave or reverent tone. [Photo credit: Vicarious, YWP]


[Challenge and art created by cedar]
Here's a challenge from YWP's cedar: Artists! Post black and white art for other YWPers to download and color. (Cedar got you started with her marker drawings above.)


There is music in words. And rhyming poetry helps us appreciate that. Try an end rhyme, rhyming the final syllables of each line in a pattern such as ABBA BCCB, or make up your own rhyme scheme. For inspiration, read Treblemaker’s poem, “Four AM,” and listen to her interview about rhyming poetry with eyesofIris on Line Break Episode 19. [Photo credit: Kevin Haung, YWP Media Library]...


[Photo by Crescent_Moon]
Got a cute pet? Share your photos!


While out with friends at a comedy club, one of them insists it’s your night to shine and pushes you up onto the stage. What’s your set? Choose a topic and unleash your inner funny! Remember to be respectful of others and use appropriate language. Or write about the experience of standing in front of a crowd that is waiting for you to perform. What do you do? [Photo credit: Frederick Tubiermont, Unsplash]


[Photo: laurenm, YWP]
Grab your camera and get very close to your subject – such as laurenm's raindrops on a stem, above. Experiment! Try different lighting, different angles for your photo creations and post them here!


[Art by cedar]
The past year has taught me a lot about ... Finish the sentence. What have you learned from this pandemic year – the good, the bad, the boring, the scary. Be brief or expansive. Be honest.


In poetry or prose, create a manual on “how to be a human being,” however you wish to interpret the concept. Do you focus on the general mechanics of life – how to survive – or, perhaps, the human potential for admirable qualities such as compassion and courage? Or something completely different ... [Photo credit: Karl Magnuson, Unsplash]


Watch the sunset at dusk and write a poem, take pictures, or create a piece of art inspired by it, rendering as much vivid description or detail as possible. [Challenge created by Cloudkitty; photo credit: YWP Media Library, photo by Vicarious]


Write a poem that includes the following five words somewhere within it: Watermelon, skip, frog, pretend, feather. [Photo credit: Sahand Babali, Unsplash]


Have you ever had the same dream twice – or repeatedly? Write about a dream that recurs time and again, either in your own life or in a character’s. Is there any special meaning to be derived from it? Interpret the dream through poetry or prose. [Photo credit: YWP Media Library, photo by laurenm]


[Photo credit: Kevin Huang, YWP Photo Library]
Imagine a community where everyone is welcome and all people can afford their houses or apartments, no matter their circumstances. What would this community look and feel like? Do you know of any communities like this? If not, why don't they exist and what could be done to make them a reality?


The classic "Frog and Toad" series by Arnold Lobel is an enduring tale of friendship and acceptance. Imagine a story of friendship between seeming opposites – a hippo and a snake? desert sand and a polar ice cap? fire and rain, etc. [Photo credit: laurenm]


[Challenge created by Adelle Brunstad; Photo by Love to write]
Pandemic days are also a time for reflection - what is something you would like to see change in the world? How would you go about changing it?


Photograph or use any art form to depict something that makes you laugh. If it's not clear what's going on, write a caption explaining it. [Photo credit: Jude Beck, Unsplash]

Story Starter

[Photo: Joanna Kosinska, Unsplash]
Think about moments in your life and write! You have two options:
  • Focus on specific, memorable moments in your life – recent or past, good or bad. Write everything that comes to mind for just two minutes.
  • Or try a free write on one word: Delicious, Sweltering, Exhilarating, Mountain, Trapped, Fireworks, Painting, Book, Friend, Woods, Storms, Family, Summer. Pick a word that...


What's in a name? Most people's names come from somewhere, whether it be an old family photo album, a favorite character, or a phonebook. Write about the origin of your name in a short story or poem. If you don't want to disclose your real name, write about the origin of your YWP username instead. [Challenge created by Crescent_Moon; photo credit: Jon Tyson, Unsplash]


[Photo: Toni Morrison by Damon Winter/The New York Times/Redux]
Think of a writer you love and some memorable dialogue the writer has created. Inspired by the writer's style, create your own dialogue. Don't overthink, just write. Have fun. More on this challenge here.

Spring Sounds

[Photo credit: Jan Meeus, Unsplash]
What are your favorite sounds of spring? What sounds make you look up and look forward? Describe them. Record them. Help us hear them with you.


A word without a definition is a word without meaning. But is there a word you think should be defined differently? Create a new (or simply more poetic) definition for a common word, like YWP's gaia_lenox does in her piece “Screw Merriam Webster." [Challenge created by Crescent_Moon; illustration by cedar]


Take a fleeting thought, or one you have dwelt on before from time to time, and wax philosophic about it. The question you ask yourself can be frivolous, solemn, or anything in between! Check out this list of popular philosophical topics to ponder if none readily come to you: https://philosophy.hku.hk/think/phil/101q.php [Photo credit: Giammarco Boscaro, Unsplash]


The crash and flash of thunderstorms can be frightening and dangerous, poetic and inspiring. Describe the experience using as many senses as you can. [Photo by Brandon Morgan, Unsplash]



[Photo credit: YWP Media Library]

Feeling adventurous, you and your family veer off your usual hiking trail one day to explore the surrounding woods. It’s not long before one of you spots something strange: a small wooden trunk peeking out of the mud. Finish the story.


Creating Voice

This workshop explores "voice" in writing. Voice expresses the narrator's or author’s emotions, attitude, tone, and point of view -- and it directly contributes to the tone and mood of the piece. Listen to other writers' voices -- and develop your own.



“I love the light this time of day,” she said. Use this sentence in a poem or story; and/or – if you are able to capture it – take a photo of the slanting rays of the sun in the late afternoon. [Photo credit: Marina2020, YWP]


[Photo by beautiful]
Write it! Sketch it! Photograph it! However you want to express it, tell mothers how incredible they are!


Some people can’t seem to stay out of trouble no matter how hard they try. And some days, trouble just seems to follow you everywhere you go. Write about trouble, however it appears, real or fictional. Remember Judith Viorst’s “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”?

I never ...

[Photo: YWP Archive, Kevin Huang]
Fill in the blanks and fill in the story. Try one or both of these prompts:
  • “I never ________, but it’s all over now.”
  • “Move aside, ________. Make way for ________.”


[Photo credit: Graceful, YWP Media Library]
When a writer skimps on a character’s physical description, it can be difficult for the reader to picture them in the mind’s eye. That in turn causes distraction, confusion, and an inability to fully connect to the story. With their permission, take – and post on your YWP blog – a photo of a family member, friend, neighbor, or pet that aims to...


[Photo: Edwin Hooper, Unsplash]
Use the phrase on the marquee in this photo, "The world is temporarily closed," in a story or poem. Write about the current pandemic if you want or take your piece in a completely different direction.



[Photo credit: Tru Katsande, Unsplash]
Celebrate Poetry Month! Take a moment to read your favorite YWP poet(s) and send a comment of appreciation to them.


[Photo credit: laurenm, YWP, "A Moment to Reflect"]
Share a story or poem about summer as it comes to a close. Write about the summer of 2020 or the season in general.


Imagine yourself as an animal living in the wild, apart from humans, and write about your experience of everyday survival from this perspective. What are the biggest threats to your existence? What are the advantages and joys of seeing the world in this new way? If you’re stuck, try writing through a pet’s eyes. [Challenge created by Catbatgirl; Art: "Breakfast Doodles" by cedar, YWP]


Write a love story between a character and an abstract idea – falling in love with the stars, for example, or the idea of love, or loving a story so much you start to think it's real. [Photo by Mindaugas Vitkus on Unsplash]


Pick a song special to you and create a character inspired by it to write a poem or story. Do the lyrics create scenes in your mind? Who do you imagine is the narrator, or subject, of the tune? How could the music’s style be represented in your writing? [Challenge created by QueenofDawn; photo credit: YWP Media Library]


[Photo credit: Kevin Huang, YWP Library]
Need a poem starter? Try windspark poems -- five-line, often nature-related poems that follow this format:
Line 1. "I dreamed"
Line 2. "I was ______" (something or someone - a noun)
Line 3. Location (where)
Line 4. An action (-ing verb)
Line 5. How (adverb, -ly ending)

I dreamed


In photos and/or words, celebrate the color green. [Photo credit: YWP Media Library, lia.chien]


[Photo: Allie, Unsplash]
Share a favorite quote that inspires you. (Include the source, whether it's a famous person or a friend.)


Closely observe an object in your surroundings or an aspect of the natural world. Using just three lines of 5, 7, 5 syllables, convey this small moment or detail in a Haiku poem. Example: Empty Glass by Inkpaw: "See-through and empty / you wait on the windowsill / to be filled once more." [Challenge by Inkpaw; photo by laurenm]

Up Close

[Photos by laurenm, YWP]
There is art in nature. Take a look at the world around you, get in close, and photograph the designs, patterns, and wonders of nature. Catch some inspiration from these photos by laurenm.


[Photo credit: Crescent_Moon, YWP]
What is your perfect summer day? Pandemic aside, walk us through the sights and sounds of perfection – for you. Where do you go? What do you do? Who, if anyone, is there with you? Tell the story in words or images or both!


[Photo: Crescent_Moon, YWP]
Along their course, many waterfalls dip over a ledge that leaves a small chamber of air behind them. Some seek out these places intentionally, finding symbolism in the experience of passing through the sheet of water into another world or state of being. If you were to walk behind a waterfall (like this one captured by Crescent_Moon), what do you...

Six Words

Write a complete story in six words. [Photo credit: Arno Senoner, Unsplash]


[Photo credit: Love to write, YWP, "If the Sky Meets the Sea"]
Look over your summer photos and post your favorites here! They can be photos you've already shared on YWP or new ones – the ones that say Summer of 2020 to you.


“In turbulent times, books are tools that help people navigate the world around them. Intellectual freedom and access to information uplift people in crisis and during more peaceful times,” says the Banned Books Week Coalition. Speak out about your right to read during Banned Books Week, September 27 – October 3, 2020! For more information, visit bannedbooksweek.org....


You are flying blissfully over the countryside, soaring effortlessly. Never mind how you got up here. How does it feel and what do you see? [Photo: James Lee, Unsplash]


[Photo credit: Amy Baugess, Unsplash]
Imagine you are lost in a maze … You’re on your own from here, it’s up to you! What kind of maze (Halloween corn, estate hedge, twisting brain)? Why are you there, what is your end location or goal, and how do you escape?


[Photo credit: Lia Chien, YWP]
Simplicity, observation, imagination. The time is right for haiku!

  • A short form of poetry adapted from Japanese tradition
  • Often, but not always, based on observations of the natural world, explaining a small moment
  • Consisting of three lines of 5, 7, 5 syllables. A syllable generally corresponds to a single vowel sound within a...


Write about climate change from the perspective of an animal. [Challenge inspired by “The Curmudgeonly Frog,” by Yellow Sweater; Photo: Gary Tresize, Unsplash]


The writer's voice is the tone, mood, or personality of a story, poem, essay. Choose a tone – happiness, guilt, surprise, panic, shame, curiosity, empathy, regret, envy, relief, loneliness, gratitude, etc. – and write a mini-story (5-10 lines is enough) that showcases that tone or mood. [Photo credit: Rasmus Smedstrup-Mortensen, Unsplash]

Three Objects

[Photo: YWP Archive, Colby Miller]
Can you think of three objects that would help explain who you are? Share your list and write about why these particular objects describe you. Include photos if you like.


Lines and angles can make dynamic images. Intersecting lines can also add depth to your photos. Look around you and explore interesting angles – like these photos by YWP's laurenm. Post your favorites here! [Photo credit: YWP Media Library, laurenm]


[Photo: Debby Hudson, Unsplash]
Do you remember the first author or poet who made you stop and think, “Huh, maybe I’d like to be a writer someday too.” Why did they inspire you? Was it the beauty and fluidity of their language, or the honesty of their message, or the perfect rise and fall of their storytelling style, or…? Write about the experience.
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“One person's trash is another person's treasure,” so the saying goes. What is something “junky” others might throw away, but that you hold onto. Why? How did you receive or come across this object(s)? [Photo credit: Rumman Amin, Unsplash]


"You're too fancy for me," she/he/they said ... Fill in the details of the before or after of this phrase. [Photo: Rodolfo Marques, Unsplash]


The classic detective story, a type of fiction in which a crime is introduced, investigated, and solved, is part of a distinct genre of its own within the broader category of “Mystery.” Write the introductory paragraphs to a detective story that is so good it prompts others to SPROUT and finish the tale. [Photo credit: Michelle Ding, Unsplash]

Spirit Lifters

Marina2020's town, Chelsea, VT, is spreading sunshine. JoToy is sending neighbors little handmade cards. If you or your community are doing a project to lift people's spirits during the pandemic, share the story here -- in photos or words or both!


Combining photos and paint can have a dramatic effect. Explore the fusion of photos and the paint of your choice: acrylic, oil, watercolor. The photo should be printed onto high quality photographic or art paper, semi-gloss or matte. [Challenge and art created by Erin Bundock, YWP alumna]


[Photo credit: Clark Tibbs, Unsplash]
It can feel obvious to us what our government should do differently in handling certain nationwide events and social issues. As an individual, what’s an action you could take to benefit others in your community?


[Challenge by A Sports Person; photo by Floris Andrea, Unsplash]
In the next 100 years what will the world be like? Will things change or stay the same? Write about what you think life will be like in 100 plus years.


You sit beside the window, watching, waiting, wishing. If only you could leave to share in the experience of … what? Convey a sense of longing from the perspective of someone or something stuck indoors. If a certain pandemic comes to mind, write about that. Or choose something completely unrelated.  [Photo credit: Haley Thon, YWP Media Library]

Photo Perspective

[Photo: Darwin Bell, flickr]
A photographer's perspective can create dramatic results.Try experimenting on your next photo shoot. Get in close. Shoot from below or on high. Think of shapes, patterns, and lines. Zero in on one aspect of your subject, such as the blue window on the red wall in the photo above. Be aware of the lighting and composition. Share your art here!


Write one line of poetry. For the rest of the poem, write slight variations of that one line.
[Photo credit: Koen Speelman, Unsplash]

I hope ...

[Illustration by cedar, YWP]
I hope .... finish the sentence. Add a few words, a few sentences, an essay! What do you hope for on Nov. 3 – one of the most consequential elections in the nation's history? Or what do you hope for beyond the election, in a new year – a new era? You might not be of voting age, but you have a voice that matters – and hope!


[Amanda Gorman, 2021 Inauguration; Photo: Patrick Semansky/Getty]
Spoken word poetry incorporates the verbal performance of a writer’s work with the words themselves. The inflection, intonation, and pace of recitation, among other things, are conscious decisions a poet makes to evoke a range of emotions that help bring the piece alive. Write a poem meant to be shared out loud, or transform an old one, and upload a...

Create Challenges

Back by popular demand! Write original, inspiring challenges for YWP! We're looking for your own creations – from your imagination, not from the internet or other sources. [Photo: Edu Lauton, Unsplash]


[Photo credit: Madalyn Cox, Unsplash]
You have a chance to redesign your bedroom from scratch – with no limit on your budget or imagination. Using words or a sketch, map out your amazing, new room.



Frank McCourt, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Angela's Ashes and an English teacher in Brooklyn, NY, noticed that when his students missed an assignment, they would come up with marvelously creative and (mostly) credible excuses to explain why. It was a type of writing that came naturally -- and it's where you're going to practice the Art of the Argument!

THE SCENE: You're a student. The stress is getting to you. You have lots of time...

Art of ...

[Photo credit: Love to write, YWP]
The poem, “The Art of Fog Catching” by YWP's Love to write, describes a simple moment of observation – and a powerful connection between humans and nature. Write about a time when you – or your character – took the time to observe, explore, and learn "the art of ..." anything!


Write about an injustice that you or your character witness or experience firsthand. What do you do? What do you learn from this incident? [Photo credit: Mike Erskine, Unsplash]


[Photo by cedar, YWP]
Describe a place (a river valley, a mountain path, a beach) where you feel at peace. Why does this place speak to you? Share a photo if you can.


Your character receives a gift that – over time – will have a huge impact on their life. Describe the gift, the giving, and the consequences. [Photo credit: Tim Mossholder, Unsplash]


[Photo: Jona, Unsplash]
With their history dating back over a century, drive-in theaters have long played a significant role in American entertainment history. It can also be said that they offer an experience traditional movies theaters do not. Write about your experience at drive-ins, if you’ve ever been, or use one as the setting of a story.

Lines & Angles

Look around and you will see lines and angles everywhere. Photograph what you see. Experiment with the light and perspective. Get in close or step back. [Challenge inspired by Outside by queenlalaladaisy and All Lining Up by gigikelly1005.]

Stark beauty

[Photo, "Black and White," by ckodama24, YWP]
With ckodama24's photo, "Black and White," as inspiration, capture the stark beauty of a November day in photos – black and white, or the muted greys and browns of the season.


In a period of extreme chaos, around you physically or perhaps just inside your head, your guardian angel appears for the first time. What was the cause of your distress, and how does the spirit guide you toward a peaceable solution? [Photo credit: YWP Media Library, photo by Alessandra G.]


Every single person on earth is the embodiment of a different word. How would a society like this function? What word would you be? [Challenge created by ZoeBee, YWP] [Photo by Jeremy Beck, Unsplash]


Everyone has different personality traits that are specific to them. Pick one personality trait and personify it. What would courage act like? What would desperation say? Try to make these attributes come to life. [Challenge created by Geri K., YWP] [Photo by Oliver Cole, Unsplash]


Have you ever experienced something you’ve never been able to explain? If not, have you ever been told a strange tale by someone close to you, about a small happening that defied all logic? Use that moment as inspiration for a story or poem with a decidedly mysterious bent. [Photo credit: Paul Gilmore, Unsplash]


[Photo by Inkpaw; Challenge by Adelle Brunstad]
Describe a small, impactful family moment that has occurred during social distancing. Would it have happened when life was "normal?" How did it make you feel?


Create a photo that gives a sense of space, either wide, open space, such as in the oceanscape by YWP's Love to write, or close and tight, like the inside of a Thermos in the photo by lia.chien. [Photo credits: Love to write and lia.chien]


“That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.” (Emily Dickinson) In honor of the poet's birthday this week (Dec. 10, 1830), think about her words, and write your own appreciation of life, and living in the here and now. [Photo credit: Emily Dickinson, The Morgan Library & Museum]


It’s not unusual to daydream about what life would be like if we “made it big.” But fame and fortune can have their downsides too. Write from the perspective of a fictional celebrity who struggles with their fame and whose only wish is to be an average, unknown person again. [Photo credit: YWP Media Library, Nathaniel Steele]


[Photo: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post]
"There are many horrors in American racial history but also some powerful inspiration," writes columnist Michael Gerson (Washington Post, June 8, 2020). "It is extraordinary that a group of people who came to our country in chains came to understand the essence of Christianity and the essence of our country far better than their oppressors. You might even call it providential....


In 1961, American scientist Richard Feynman, joint-receiver of the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics, posed the following paraphrased question: If the human race and its collective knowledge were destroyed, apart from one sentence rich in information yet brief in its wording, what sentence would you leave? [Challenge created by gaia_lenox, YWP; Photo credit: Feynman Diagram, Wikimedia Commons]


[Illustration by cedar, YWP]
 Shadows can have a dramatic effect on a landscape or even a simple object. Experiment with shadows, using photography, watercolor, acrylic, pastels or a simple pencil. Share your work here.


In words or art, describe the sensation of splashing into the water. [Challenge inspired by Neon Splash by laurenm]


Write about your experience with online learning during the pandemic. The good, the bad, and all the rest. This challenge was inspired by blue_potato's poem, Online: "Today I spent my day looking at my computer. Tomorrow I will do the same. It is hard to see the end, to see a day when my eyes don't ache and I see the sun..." Read on!


Write a single line of poetry to use as a springboard, then construct an entirely new poem around it using slight variations: words added, words removed, words rearranged. [Photo credit: Rishab Lamichhane]




[Illustration by Grace Safford, YWP Archive]
Look at yourself in a mirror, and draw your face without looking down at your paper. Never lift your pencil from the page! Color it in later if you want. Take a photo and post it! Does it look anything like you?


[Illustration by Destiny-Rose Chery, YWP Archive]
"I just want to go ..." finish the sentence and explain where, why, when, and how you will make it happen!


[Photo: YWP Photo Library, Kevin Huang]
"The day that I stopped being afraid of failure was the day my adventure began ..." Begin a story or poem with this phrase, or use the concept as inspiration.


Summer 2021 Writing and Visual Art Contest! Prizes, publication! Details here. Due July 23.