Imagine you are a mountain. Are you a giant, like Denali, or a smaller mountain, like Mt. Philo? Are there many hikers on your trails, or are you an unexplored mountain? Write about your life as a mountain. [Photo by Crescent_Moon, YWP]


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]


Emily Dickinson’s poem, “I’ll tell you how the Sun rose,” is full of color and life. Read the poem, watch the sun rise, describe what you see and experience in words or photos. [Photo by Diego PH, Unsplash]

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]


What is something that you really, really hope for – now or in the future? Why is it so important to you? [Photo by Yogendra Singh on Unsplash]


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...


Use the phrase, "It wasn't a game," in a poem or story. [Photo by Denise Jans, Unsplash]


[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...


[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. 


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]


Begin or end a story with these sentences or variations of your own: “He was always my favorite, out of all of them – it was barely a competition. He knew it, too.” [Photo by Qasim Sadiq on 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



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]

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]


 Try your hand at script writing. Write a scene with about 30 lines of dialogue between at least two characters. Maybe the characters are ghosts, or tulips, or the forgotten coats on a coat rack – anything goes! [​Photo by Artificial Photography on Unsplash]


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]

Then and Now

Compare how things used to be to how they are now. Are they better or worse? Do you wish things were different. [Challenge created by Flowergirl12300] [Photo: Justice Amoh, Unsplash]


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]


Write a descriptive poem all about your favorite place to park yourself. Is it in a hammock? In an armchair by the fireplace? At your desk? Or under a tree? We’d love to hear about it! [Photo by Crescent_Moon, YWP]


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]


If you could keep only one of your possessions, which one would it be? Describe it. Explain why it is important to you. [Photo by Roman Kraft, Unsplash]

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]


 Brainstorm the color red and jot down everything that it brings to mind. From your list, choose your favorites and create a poetic or photographic tribute to red. [Photo by laurenm, 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!


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]


In descriptive words, photos, or art, paint a portrait of the month of August as you experience it. This challenge was inspired by AvaClaire's poem, August. [Photo by Anna Tsukanova, 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: 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.


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]


Think about a memorable event from your childhood – a loss or win, a move, a difficult learning experience – whatever it is, write about it with as much detail and heart as you can bring to it. [​Photo by Jon Tyson on 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.


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


[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.


Write a poem as if you are the main character from a favorite book. Veer off from the story and create your own tale. What are you thinking about? What are you trying to do? Include the name of the book that inspired you. [​Photo by Paolo Chiabrando on Unsplash]

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]

Love Poem

The topic is love. Write a poem from any perspective – new love, lost love, imagined love... For inspiration, read "Goldfinch" by liebeslied. [Photo: Nicola Fioravanti, Unsplash]

Word Choice

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



Write something that includes the following phrase or your version of this idea: “Holding onto my hat as firmly as I could with one free hand, I stepped over the boundary and seemingly glided into the open air.” (It can be placed anywhere in the piece). [​Photo by Wolf Zimmermann on 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]...


Write your own myth about the creation of our solar system: the stars, the moon, the sun, the planets. Be as whimsical or serious as you wish. [Photo by Dancer, YWP]

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]


Begin or end a story with the line, “And that was the moment when I knew it had all flown out of my reach.”  [Photo by Niklas Ohlrogge on Unsplash]

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...


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]


Fibers and cloth keep us warm and keep us together. Write about a piece of cloth or fabric that has been important to your life. [Challenge created by roxyforthewin, YWP; Photo by Stephane Gagnon, Unsplash]


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

Great Poets

[Art by Alden Bond, YWP]
This challenge flows from a series called THE GREAT POETS CHALLENGE created 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: 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!


Imagine you are a figure in Greek mythology – what is your story? Who are your parents, what role do you play? [Photo by Pat Whelen on Unsplash]

I am ...



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]


If you live in rural New England, are you seeing evidence of "sugaring" season? Take photos of silver sap buckets, taps on maples, and sugar on snow to show YWP friends who don't experience this sweet annual ritual in their home states. [Photo by beautiful, YWP]


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]

Sarah Kay

Take a few minutes to listen to spoken word artist Sarah Kay (pictured above) talk about the poetry form in her "Spoken Word: Roots of Poetry" how-to video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9qaVXE30FU. And here's a favorite Sarah Kay piece, "Hands:" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuAbGJBvIVY. If you're inspired, write a poem (or reshape an old one) that you want to read out...


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]


Create a new color. Describe it in words or visual art. Does it have a fantastic name or one that perfectly describes it? [​Photo by Robert Katzki on 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!...


Begin or end a story with this thought: “She had never seen anything so magnificent in her life.” [Photo by Johannes Plenio, Unsplash]

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.


What are some images of family holidays that have stayed with you over the years? Describe them – draw or write about what you remember. [Photo by Nazrin B-va, Unsplash]

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...


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]


What simple things bring you joy? Here's a poem by Billy Collins to get you started.

Ode to Joy

Friedrich Schiller called Joy the spark of divinity
but she visits me on a regular basis,
and it doesn’t take much for her to appear—
the salt next to the pepper by the stove,
the garbage man ascending his station
on the back of the moving garbage truck,
or I’m just eating a banana
in the car and listening to Buddy Guy.

In other...

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 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.


[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?


Every 10 years, you have the opportunity to go back in time and have a conversation with your past self. This conversation can change the future. Write about it. [Illustration by Dancer, YWP]


[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.


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]

Climate-10 Photos

Ten striking photos in a Washington Post project show the devastating impact of climate crises on the natural world.See the photos in "The Urgency of Awe," Washington Post, Nov. 6, 2021 [Photo by Edwin Giesbers, Washington Post]


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]


Write a story or poem from the perspective of a household appliance that has a big decision to make – toaster, coffee-maker, can-opener – you get the idea. Does the appliance sort it out alone or seek the help of the other kitchen mates? [Photo by Daniel Salgado, Unsplash]



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


Tell a story that includes the phrase, "We had the time of our lives." [​Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash]


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]


If you could eat something inedible, like an object or a memory or a feeling, what would it taste like? [Photo by JR Korpa, Unsplash]

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]

Inside Cat

Write a story about an inside cat who longs to find the courage to become an outside cat, an alley cat, maybe even a tiger! [​Photo by Blake Meyer on Unsplash]

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....


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]


Write a story about a character trapped in a confusing labyrinth. Is there a minotaur in the labyrinth too, or is your character alone? How will they escape? [Illustration: Ice Blink, YWP]


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

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.


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]


Write your own version of Emily Dickinson’s “Heart, we will forget him!” See where your mind (and heart) take you! [​Photo by Nicola Fioravanti on Unsplash]


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


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]


Poet Emily Dickinson asks, “Are friends delight or pain?” What do you think? Write a response to her question. [Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash]


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]

Déjà vu

Everyone has experienced déjà vu -- that feeling that you’ve already been here, have already done this before -- at some point in their life. Write about your own experience, or a character’s. [Photo by Susan Q Yin, Unsplash]


[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...

Happiness is ...

In words or images, tell us what makes you happy. [Photo by Ice Blink, YWP]


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.]


Sometimes a photograph suggests something else is going on, making you guess what the big picture is really about. Create your own mystery photo. You might focus on a small detail with a blurry background, or you might draw the viewer’s eye to an unexpected element in the corner. Take a photo that will make people think more about what they're looking at. [Photo by Marek Piwnicki, Unsplash]

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]


Write about someone who believes they are stuck in a perpetual plane ride – never landing, never taking off – just up in the clouds, endlessly, in a 747. What happens? How do the flight attendants and other passengers react? [Photo by Tom Barrett, 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...


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]


Take photos of anything purple. Celebrate this royal color! [Photo: laurenm, YWP]


[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.



[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.


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...


Try your hand at an abecedarian poem. The abecedarian is an acrostic that spells out the alphabet, either word by word or line by line. Abecedarian poems generally contain 26 lines, one for each letter of the alphabet, and every line begins with a word that starts with the line’s corresponding letter (Example: The first line could start with the word “apples,” the second line with “bananas,” the third with “carrots,” and so on.) ...


[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.


"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]

I will ...

This summer, I will … Finish the sentence. And enjoy! You’ve earned it! [Photo by Tyler Nix, 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. ...


Chirping crickets, August corn, back to school sales ... listen and watch. What are the signs of late summer and how do they make you feel? [Photo by Clara Métivier Beukes, Unsplash]


[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?...

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?...


Begin a poem or short story with the line “As the moon and stars swirled around me overhead, I was overcome by a sense of …” [Photo by Dancer, YWP]


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.


"Turquoise Water Behind Him,” a short story by Maureen Pilkington, begins with the sentence, “It was October, but Margo was still wearing short summer skirts.” Continue your own story from here, either with Margo, or your own character. [Photo by Linus Nylund, Unsplash]

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]


In the color wheel, there are two sides – warm and cool. In this challenge, you'll take photos that represent both sides. Warm colors range from red to yellow-green. Typically when we think of warmer colors, we think of a sunny day. Cool colors range from blue-green to blue-violet. We often associate cool colors with ice or water, but there are many options. Take photos with primarily warm colors, then do the same with cool colors. Do you prefer one side over the other? Post your photos in a...

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...


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]


Create the first sentence to a story and post it as a response to this challenge. Others can look through the responses and use the sentences for inspiration in their own stories. [Photo: Paolo Bendandi, Unsplash]


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

Six Words

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


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

Love Poem

Write a poem from any perspective – new love, lost love, imagined love... For inspiration, read "Goldfinch" by YWP’s liebeslied. [Photo by laurenm, YWP]


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.]

Create Challenges

Post original, inspiring challenges here – from your imagination, not from the internet or other sources. Share your challenge ideas (include title and 2 sentences, max.). We'll format them, publish them on the site, and give you credit as the creator. [Photo: David Pisnoy, Unsplash]


Come on, we’ve all had our daydreams … What would you do if you won a million dollars? [​Photo by Steve Sawusch on Unsplash]


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]


Chilean poet Pablo Neruda wrote many odes to ordinary, often overlooked objects. Depict an everyday object in your life through a form of art (writing, photography, painting, etc.). For inspiration, read: "Ode to a Large Tuna in the Market" by Pablo Neruda. Read more about Pablo Neruda in the Great Poets Challenge.


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


Write a short story from the perspective of a forgetful goldfish. What is the internal conversation of the goldfish as it swims round and round and can’t quite remember what just happened or where it’s headed? [Photo by Ahmed Hasan on Unsplash]


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]


Write a short story about a group of ghosts who go from abandoned house to abandoned house, staying in each one until it is sold or falls apart. What is life like for this band of squatter ghosts? What happens if one or all of them get tired of moving around so much – and decide to stay when the humans move in? [Photo by JR Korpa, Unsplash]


[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]


Paint or photograph the view from your window, including the window frame to give your composition an interesting near-far perspective. [Art by liebeslied and Dancer, YWP]


[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?


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]


“She dreamed of someone who couldn’t quite be placed …” Begin or end a story or poem with this phrase. [Photo: Anthony Tran, Unsplash]


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


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


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]


Who is your favorite poet or novelist? Write an ode to him/her/them, emulating them – in style or theme or outlook. Include the writer’s name. [​Photo by Laura Kapfer on 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?


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]

Rock Art

Find some rocks, and make some art with them! This could be a statue, a rock cairn, or you could paint on the rocks - anything! [Photo by Love to write, YWP]


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]


All your billionaire friends are interested in space travel, but you, you’re obsessed with crafting the world’s best cheeseburger. Tell the story of how you got here and give us a hint about your secret recipe. [Illustration by cedar, YWP]


[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? 


Draw/paint/create the book cover for your first novel. [​Photo by Jené Stephaniuk on Unsplash]


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]


Emily Dickinson wrote, “A death-blow is a life-blow to some / Who, till they died, did not alive become.” Write about a character who finally learns to live in the afterlife. [Photo by Michael Mouritz, Unsplash]


[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]...


Take your camera outside, observe your surroundings, and take photos – up close, far away, Mother Nature, city sidewalks … whatever you see, wherever you are. Post your photos in a slideshow. [Photos by laurenm, YWP]


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


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]


Write a short personal statement about a hardship you’ve faced and managed to overcome, and how the experience has made you stronger. For writers with college in mind, you might use this as a way to brainstorm an admissions essay down the line. [​Photo by Kelli McClintock on 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!

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.]


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]


Out of the blue, you are cast as the lead in a movie – a big movie with a big-time director. They spotted you in the school play and … no, this is not a dream. What happens next? [Photo by Cristi Tohatan on 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]


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]

Pet Peeves

What are your pet peeves? Write a haiku for each one you can think of. (Haiku is a form of poetry that originated in Japan and follows the format of 5 syllables in the first line of the poem, 7 syllables in the second line, and 5 syllables in the third and final line of the poem.) [​Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash]


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


Whether or not you think of yourself as an artist, give watercolors a try! Find a palette of watercolors, a paintbrush, some paper, a jar of water, and get to work. Try painting fruit, flowers, your pet, a stack of books, a mug of coffee, a bicycle, a landscape. Have fun and remember to post your work! [Watercolor by cedar, YWP]


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]

Cat Person

What does it mean to be a cat person or a dog person? Are these unfair stereotypes? Have you ever been labeled as one or the other? How did you respond? Have you ever thought of yourself in this way – and does it fit?


[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?


Write a poem or story that includes this line or your own variation: “You pulled up in your old, green car and gave me that same look you used to give me so many years ago.” [Photo by Patrick Rogers on Unsplash]


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]

Melted Lines

Use this phrase, or a variation, in a poem or story, “She found hope between the buttery, melted lines of her grilled cheese.” [Photo by Asnim Ansari, Unsplash]


[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]


Black and white photography, with its shades and contrasts, can create a mood unlike anything seen in color photos. Experiment with the drama of black and white. [Photo by fire girl, YWP]

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...


[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...


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 by Maira Salazar on 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.


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


[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.


Write a poem or narrative, using metaphors to compare and contrast ideas, bringing the reader deeper into your piece(s). (Example: like the tears that once wove down my striving neck, gushing around my bare feet, the waterfall stripped me of all feeling but sorrow.) Merriam-Webster: “A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them (as in drowning in money).” ...


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]

New Word

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


If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why? [​Photo by Joseph Barrientos on 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.



Write a story about an aspiring dancer who always gets stuck with the background role in shows. [Illustration by dogpoet, YWP]

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.



Find an old picture of yourself. Who is with you? Your parents, siblings, or friends? When was the picture taken, and where? Describe it and write about what it reminds you of. [​Photo by Laura Fuhrman on Unsplash]


“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]


 Describe the approach of winter using as many sensory and descriptive details as you can. Love it or hate it? Show us why in words, photos, illustrations. [Art by ​Trinity DeMasi, 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”?


Donkeys or goldfish, cats or dogs? Share your favorite pet photos or illustrations! [Art by laurenm, cedar, Allycorn, Wag it off]

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: 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!


 You and a friend are walking along the sidewalk chatting together when a woman nudges you, hands you a scrap of paper, and begins walking away. “Follow me,” the paper says. Do you follow and what happens? [​Photo by James Ting on Unsplash]


[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.


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


Some of us look for comfort in books, or fresh air, or hugs, or something else entirely. Where do you find comfort? Write about it. [Photo by David Lezcano, Unsplash]


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]


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]


Begin or end a story with this line: “Eventually the song had to end.” [Photo by Ice Blink, YWP]


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]


Write a poem or story that includes this line or your own variation: “The tiny lights along the edge of the cabin framed our faces in pale yellow light.” [Illustration by Dancer, YWP]


[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


Write something that includes this phrase or an approximation of it: “the room was musty, and the feeling of constantly being awarded second place infiltrated my nostrils.” (It can be placed anywhere in the piece). [​Photo by Vruyr Martirosyan on Unsplash]


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


Write an ode to someone who makes you feel grateful. What is it about them that sparks your gratitude? [Photo by Debby Hudson, Unsplash]


[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]


Hard to pull off, but so rewarding! Action shots make compelling art. In photos or illustrations, try to capture action. [Photos and art by laurenm, YWP]

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.


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]


Your reflection comes alive and takes on a life of its own, living from mirror to mirror – a reflection of you, but not really you. How do you interact with this reflection? How do you explain what is happening – to yourself and others? [​Photo by Joel Naren on Unsplash]


[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...


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._]
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Write your own flash fiction fairytale. It can be an epic adventure, or more of a classic fairytale. Include a conflict and resolution. Try to keep it under 1,000 words. [​Photo by Cederic Vandenberghe on Unsplash]


“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....


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]


Make your own island – either in words or images. What ocean is it in? Is it far from land, or just off the coast? What plants grow there? Is it inhabited? What animals live there? [​Photo by Nathan Boadle on 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?


How was your summer? Focus on one happy, surprising, unusual or stand-out moment and describe it in words or images. [Photo by Love to write, YWP]


[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...

General/Free Write

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


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


Include this sentence in a poem or story: “There they sat, in all their glittering glory, far across the room from me …” [Photo by ​Alexander Schimmeck, 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]


If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? Write about your travel dreams. [Photo by Jairph, 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.


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]


Draw your own original flower. Think of something you’ve never seen before as a flower. This could be in black and white, or full color; made with crayons or gouache paint or a regular pencil. Make this flower yours. [Illustration by sharkcuddles, YWP]


[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.


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,...

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!


Write a book review of the last good book you read. Post it here and on the YWP Book Club! And try not to give away any spoilers! [Photo by Ashim D'Silva, Unsplash]


“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]


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]



Write your own epic poem, similar in style to The Odyssey by Homer (translated by Emily Wilson) or Beowulf (translated by Seamus Heaney). It doesn’t need to be super long, but make sure your poem’s plot includes a conflict, climax, and resolution. [​Photo by Marek Piwnicki on Unsplash]


Begin or end a tale with the phrase, “and standing there in the middle of all that mess was my dear, old friend, with the most peculiar look on her face.” [​Photo by Onur Bahçıvancılar on 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]


Make a sentence by writing a poem that has one word in the first line, two in the second, three in the third, etc. (Example: The / The cat / The cat sat / The cat sat down.) [Illustration by Ice Blink]

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]


Create a cure for boredom. Is it a potion? Or maybe a dance to shake the boredom out? This could be a poem, a short work of fiction, or even a recipe. Have fun! [Photo by Priscilla Du Preez, Unsplash]


[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?


From the West to the East, this summer's heat has been extreme. Write about how our climate is affecting us globally and/or you personally. [Photo by laurenm, YWP]


[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.


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]


Create a spirit that watches over you and acts as your personal guardian. What form does your spirit take? Does it ever speak? Does it fly? [​Photo by Cosmic Timetraveler on Unsplash]

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!


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]

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.


Think of your ideal library. What type of books can you find there – all history books, or poetry anthologies, or science fiction novels? Or maybe a mix of everything? Where is it located? Does it have comfy chairs and secret reading nooks? Describe it in words or draw it – and make it yours! [Photo by Will Van Wingerden, Unsplash]


[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...


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

Rain & Shine

Create the backstory of how two opposites meet and become friends. They might be Rain (a moody, brooding character) and Shine (a sunny, optimistic type) – or two characters of your own invention. [Photo by laurenm, YWP]


[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.

First Grade

Do you remember your first day of first grade? Were you scared? Deliriously excited? What was your teacher like? For inspiration, read: “First Grade” by Ron Koertge [Photo by CDC, Unsplash]



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!


Ask a friend or family member to model for you. Photograph, draw, or paint them. Pretend you’re shooting the cover of Vogue, or maybe you’re Leonardo da Vinci painting the Mona Lisa – whatever works to capture your subject in a stunning portrait! [From Oscar Nord photo, Unsplash]


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]


Take a walk. Take photos of the birds and animals you meet along the way. [Photo by Wag it off, YWP]


[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.


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]


If you could add a “sixth sense” to the list of five that humans possess, what would it be, and why? In what ways would it help you in daily life? [​Photo by Marek Studzinski on 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.


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


You, a shy young monster under the bed, are terrified of the child living above you. Write the story in prose or poetry. Draw a cartoon if you like. [Photo by Shubham Dhage on Unsplash]


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.]


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]


Use all five of the following words in a poem or story: Metamorphosis. Spoon. Civilian. Cosmos. Milk. [​Photo by Mike Kenneally on 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]


Think of a cautionary tale you were told when you were younger. Was it wise or ridiculous? Did it make a lasting impression on you? Write about it. Need inspiration? “My Grandma Told Stories or Cautionary Tales” by Marlanda Dekine-Sapient Soul.
 [Photo by Manyu Varma, 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]

Before Us

In Hayao Miyazaki's animated movie, “Castle in the Sky,” an ancient civilization disappeared, leaving islands and immense buildings floating in the atmosphere. Write a poem, story, or essay (or create a work of art) that describes the remnants of a long-forgotten race. Are the remains more advanced than our modern world? Did the population seem to be human? Did they leave a historical record behind? Describe a real place or invent your own. [Photo by Willian...


“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]


Write a poem or story that includes these five words: goose, pretend, bridge, whistling, pickle. [Photo by Amit Talwar on Unsplash]


[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....


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]


Choose one of your poems, or a favorite line, and write it on a piece of paper. Draw/paint/create a collage around your poetry with images that fit the words. Take a photo of the finished piece and post it. [Illustration by Lizzy_Rights, YWP]


[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.

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?


[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.


Where – in all of the world – would you go and what would you do if you just wanted to escape for awhile? Is there a place that captures your imagination? What draws you to it? Write about it, sketch it, paint it! [Photo by Ishan @seefromthesky on Unsplash]


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]


Wherever you are, go outside, look around, and capture your surroundings in photos. [Photo: Beautiful World series by Cloudkitty]




[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.