[Photo:Dan Pelle/AP]
When schools reopen, we can expect changes in response to COVID-19. Masks? One-wall hallways? Alternate days in school and at home? What would you suggest for your school? Here's a Washington Post story to get you started.



Your character is angry, or beset by some other negative emotion, but then manages to defuse the situation by looking at it from a new angle. This technique, called reframing, allows a person to pull out of downward spirals and create positive alternatives and outcomes. Write the story.
[Unsplash, photo by Joel Fulgencio]

Tell it!

Choose an issue that really matters to you -- and write it! Don't stop to fix spelling or grammar. Get all your thoughts out. Shout it as you write. Who's your audience? Tell them exactly what you think! Record it and post it here.
[Photo by Melany Rochester, Unsplash]


[Photo credit: Danielle MacInnes, Unsplash]
Respond here to add your own writing challenges or prompts for the Community Journalism Project.


Look into this animal's eyes (drawing by YWP's Kitkat). What is he thinking as he looks back at you? Write his internal dialogue.

CJP-Electoral College

The candidate with the most votes does not necessarily win the presidential election, because the Electoral College system is designed to provide a voice for low-population states. Is this fair? Still realistic today?


It has been said that, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Think of something big you would like to accomplish, and write about the first step.
[Photo credit: YWP Media Library, photo by Fiona Goodman


[Photo credit: Kevin Huang, YWP Archive]
You're a teen (or pre-teen) in 2020, but who are you? What makes you uniquely you? What would you like people to know and understand about you? Where or how do you feel most like you?


Everybody has their idea of a perfect day, when everything falls into place just right. Write about "my kind of day," starting when you wake up, moving through the day, and ending in the evening. Make your day come alive for the reader so they can share your experience.
[Photo credit: YWP Media Library, illustration by Katherine Moran]



The climate IS changing. Take a look at this remarkable movie for glacial evidence: Chasing Ice. And from Medium.com's magazine Matter: City of Ash by Paolo Bacigalupi, Table of Contents by Choire Sicha, and...


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.



Tell a story in which the wind, or maybe just a breeze, plays a critical role.
[Photo credit: YWP Media Library, photo by Fiona Goodman]


Write about a time when you rely on an animal for comfort. Does the animal just know that you need help? What does it do? (Can be real or fiction.)
[YWP photo library, photo by Abigail Kirby] 


[Challenge by Adelle Brunstad; photo by Calle Macaron, Unsplash]
Draw a cartoon that captures a funny, sad, or everyday moment or feeling that you think others could relate to as we all live through COVID-19 and social distancing. 


One of the keys to happiness is to nurture feelings of gratitude. Write a poem or short essay about a person, place or thing that makes you especially grateful.
[Unsplash, photo by Simon Maage]


[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 least four photos in a slideshow. Need some tips?...


[Credit: Kevin Huang, YWP Photo Archive]
Write about your community. It could be a straight descriptive piece, a personal reflection, or an opinionated commentary. What do you like about it? What works; what doesn't? What would make you want to stay or leave?


Take a moment to interpret the meaning of the sign in this photo by (Carter Devenney, Essex High School). Does it apply to your own life, reminding you of something you’ve always intended to try? Or does it apply to the state of the world? Climate change? What does the sign make you think of?


[Photo credit: Samantha Sophia, Unsplash]
America has seen an alarming rise in mass shootings, but efforts at gun control run into strong opposition. What is the way forward?


Write about a person who is shy, and how they decide one day that they are OK with that.
[Photo credit: YWP Media Library, photo by Delaney Harrison]


[Illustration credit: Vivien Sorce, YWP]
Describe what feels like "home" to you. What do you appreciate about it? What makes it yours? This could be a favorite place, such as your house, a natural setting, your town, rural road, your state, or it could be the people in your life – your family, friends, community, team.


Choose one (or more) of the prompts below as a jumping off point for a free-write about you. 
  • I am the one who...
  • This I believe...
  • Myself, when I am real...
  • I like...
[Photo credit: YWP Media Library, illustration by Tess LaLonde]


Write a short piece in the style of an author or poet you admire. Include the name of your inspiration.


[Credit: Nam Hoang, Unsplash]
COVID-19 has taken away our regular routines. We miss alot of things. Many of them we took for granted. Sprouting from the poem, I miss...by E.B. Pointy-Pen, write about what you are missing.


Write about a person who has to make a choice — they are at a fork in the road somehow. Why do they choose one thing, and leave the other behind?
[Photo credit: YWP Media Library, illustration by Tess LaLonde]


What is the happiest you’ve ever been? How did it feel to be in that moment? Reflect and try to describe the sensation and the experience.
[YWP photo library, illustration by mythicalquill] 

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...


Describe yourself in exactly 15 words — no more, no less. A sentence or list.
[Unsplash, photo by K. Mitch Hodge]


[Photos and challenge by Erin Bundock, YWP alumna]
Set the mood with low-key lighting. Post your photos in a slideshow or post one photo and write a short story or poem inspired by the photo. Need tips? Check out this article.

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!

CJP-Photo Essay2

[An artist's workspace, by YWP's cedar]
Create a photo essay of a specific place either in your community or your home that is meaningful to you. Along with the photos, write a short commentary that identifies the place and explains why it matters. 

Still LIfe

Collect a few nearby household/everyday objects you frequently use or find interesting in some way, and arrange them for a photo or drawing (inspired by YWP's Kitkat). What do the objects you choose say about you and your life, or a new character’s? Post the photo or drawing. Write an accompanying poem, story or personal essay if you're inspired!


[Photo by Frank Albrecht on Unsplash]
Is health care a human right, as many argue, or is it more of an individual responsibility that each person should figure out on their own?


Mystique is defined as "a fascinating aura of mystery, awe, and power surrounding someone or something." Write about a person, place, object, building, sports team, work of art — anything that seems to have a mystique.
[Photo credit: YWP Media Library, photo by Bri Lancaster]


[Photo credit: Lia Chien, YWP]
What is one issue that really matters to you, globally, nationally or locally? What keeps you up at night? How does this issue affect your vision of the future? What message would you like to send to decision-makers? What do they need to know? How could this issue be solved? Topics could include climate change; social justice issues of race, gender, economic disparity; a divided nation; gun...


Where do you see the greatest opportunity to create peace in your community or the world? Write an essay or poem about what you can do to promote peace. This challenge is from the YWP archive, so you might see some responses from past years. Sprout from any of these if they move you!
[Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Jonathan Palmer]

Graphic Story

[Coons by cedar, YWP]
Join YWP's cedar to create an online graphic story. The general theme is the surprising friendship of polar opposites. It could be between two people, animals, objects or plants -- or between an animal and a tree, a person and a kettle, etc. You could continue the story of cedar's coons or introduce a new set of characters. Let your...


Write about a friendship that begins in a unique or unusual setting and tell how the setting helps bind the two people together, i.e. near the pineapple display in the grocery store, on a leaky boat in the lake, flying in a hot air balloon...
[Photo credit: YWP Media Library, illustration by Connor Byam]


Write a poem about the ferocity of a thunderstorm. Use onomatopoeia sounds to convey the thunder, lightning, and rain.
[Unsplash, photo by Lucien Kolly] 

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...


Imagine for a moment, if you can, that our society was without speech. Using inspiration from dance or pantomime, write a story or poem about a “conversation” between two people expressed solely through the movements of face or body.
[Unsplash, photo by Kirstina Flour]


Look at the photo examples in this challenge. Each one evokes a setting. Take your own photo of an inspiring setting -- so inspiring that writers will want to write about it! Post your photo(s).

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...


[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 or poem inspired by one or both of these paintings — Portrait of a Young Woman (attributed to Jean-Étienne Liotard, c. late 1700s) and/or Girl with a Pearl Earring (Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665). What are they about to say? Who are they?


President Trump wants to repeal the asylum law, which allows immigrants to come to the United States, seek asylum, and wait for their case to be heard. Is he right? Or should the law stand?


Sit still in a quiet place with your eyes closed for five minutes, and try to empty your mind of any thoughts. Does one thought keep pushing its way through? Vent about it or use it as inspiration to write. 
[Photo credit: YWP Media Library, photo by Marina Sprague]


[Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash]
Society's expectations can be overwhelming at times. What has been your experience? Any suggestions for lifting this weight?

YWP is...

The Challenge: "YWP is ..." what?  Finish the sentence. Tell us how YWP affects your life, what you like about it, what it means to you. Thanks!


[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...


Stashed. In some schools it’s a tradition to leave behind hidden messages (stashed in library books, for example) for the next generation of students. What advice would you give to the students coming up behind you? (Imagine the note you would leave -- if COVID hadn't closed your school this year.)
[Unsplash, photo by Noemi Macavei-Katocz]


A sunshower is a meteorological event in which rain falls while the sun is shining. Cultures around the world refer to this event by remarkably similar names, many of them related to folklore of trickster animals getting married. Write your own folk tale that place during a sunshower.
[Unsplash, photo by Loren Gu]


Write about a time when you loved and hated someone or something at the same time. Describe the conflicting emotions you felt in this confusing situation.
[YWP photo library, photo by Elizabeth Goodrich] 

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.


These days, especially, the everyday potential for miscommunication is high. Write a humorous piece about a major misunderstanding that occurs over text or email, and include the moment both parties realize their error.
[Unsplash, photo by Pongsawat Pasom]


[Challenge by Erin Bundock, YWP alumna]
Depth of field describes how much of a picture is in focus. With shallow depth of field, only a small portion of space is in focus. Wide depth of field involves a larger in-focus space. Experiment with both and post your favorites.

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...


Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said in an interview that Emma Lazarus’s words on the Statue of Liberty should read, “Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.” If you could respond directly to Cuccinelli, what would you say?


Do you live near mountains (like Lincoln Peak by YWP's Love to write)? Or maybe you've had a chance to travel to mountains. Write a story that involves mountains, your experience in them, or as a setting for a tale. If possible, take photos of the mountains and post them with your writing.


Is justice blind? What influences come into play in the justice system? How could the system be made more fair?
[Photo by Claire Anderson on Unsplash]


A small carnival rolls into town unexpectedly, causing an excited stir – but something doesn’t feel right to you. What’s going on behind the scenes?
[Photo credit: YWP Media Library, photo by Sam Aikman]

Dear America

[Illustration credit: sophie.d]
To mark the Fourth of July, write a letter, a poem, a song, a rant, a plea to this land. Begin with Dear America ... (This challenge was first published on this site last year. See the responses from 2018, and sprout from them or start your own 2019 version.)



[Photo credit: Ryan Johns, Unsplash]
List five things you have discovered about yourself recently.


Within a poem or short story, personify a character as a natural disaster (think mudslides, tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc.). How does this geographical/climatic event reflect their worst traits, or even their whole personality?
[Unsplash, photo by NASA]


Do you love an item that is typically considered “junk” like an old tire or a rusty wagon? Why do you find meaning in this item?
[YWP photo library, photo by Brooke Fontaine] 

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.


You've been planning a surprise party for someone special for months, and so far, you've been able to keep the secret. But on the morning of the party, something unexpected happens to threaten the surprise. Try to tell the story through dialogue. [Challenge by Kittykatruff]
[Unsplash, photo by Eliott Reyna]


[Challenge created by Erin Bundock, YWP alumna; photos from Photograhpy Mad]
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...

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....


[Photo credit: Damon Winter/The New York Times]
Toni Morrison, the first African-American woman to win the Nobel in Literature, once said, “In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.” Expand on Morrison's thought.


Study the seven mice of this illustration by YWP's cedar, then choose one as the narrator of a fantastical poem or story about the mischief they get up to.


[Photo credit: Daniel Foster on Unsplash]
Looking at potential candidates for the November 2020 presidential election, which one are you most impressed with? Why?


School has ended for the summer -- and (wishful thinking!) the coronavirus lockdowns have been lifted. A good friend invites you on a spontaneous road trip. Where do you go, and why? What problems or surprises do you encounter along the way?
[Photo credit: YWP Media Library, photo by ​Kaidin Aviles]


[Photo credit: Mya Dusablon, YWP Photo Archive]
In the context of America today in 2020, and your place in the world, begin a poem or story with the words, If I could ...


[Illustration by mythicalquill, YWP]
Document one day of your "social distancing" life in photos. Make a slideshow on your blog: Add Media > Advanced upload. Add words if you like.


Imagine that you have built a small raft, and decide to float down a river one day. Describe the people you come across, what you see around you, what insights you gain by the end of the day.
[Unsplash, photo by Bill Anderson-Blough]


What are you hungry for? It could be a favorite food or a dream job or a change in your life. What is the thing that bites at the inside of your stomach and you can’t stop thinking about?
[YWP photo library, photo by Riley Allen] 

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.


Describe a character who feels like they are carrying a heavy burden of some kind, but then they figure out a way forward that will ease their journey.
[Unsplash, photo by Mantas Heasthaven]


[Challenge created by Erin Bundock, YWP alumna]
Proportion is the size relationship between different elements and how they work together. Proportion in photography is based on camera placement as well as the placement of the elements within the shot. In the examples above, see how placing a hand in different places in the shot changes its proportion to the subject's face? Sometimes it is helpful to play with the...

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...


[Photo credit: Abriatis, YWP Photo Archive]
Many of America's rural areas are struggling with such issues as economic decline and loss of population. Is this happening in your community? What can be done?


One of the most universal human experiences, across all cultures and times, is the sense of being lost. Write about your own experience of being lost (how it happened, what it felt like, and how you found your way out) or from the perspective of the person in this photo by YWP's lia.chien


Imagine that you are in charge of campaigning for a fair minimum wage. What hourly wage would you seek and how would you persuade people to support it?


Write a poem or story that features a starry night and a surprising discovery. 
[Photo credit: YWP Media Library, illustration by Katelyn Brown]


[Photo credit: Linus Nylund, Unsplash]
Skip forward 10 years. What is happening in 2030? In the world, America, or your community? Where do you fit into the picture?

Teacher Appreciation

Take a moment today to reflect on the unprecedented challenges your teachers are facing during the pandemic as they must pivot to provide learning online -- while they're learning how to do it themselves. Write a poem of appreciation, share a funny anecdote, or show an example of why you're grateful for your teacher(s).
[Challenge suggested by Adelle M. Brunstad, YWP alumna. Photo: Jony Ariadi, Unsplash]



Tell the story of a character who is forced to be their own support system. Write from their perspective before, during, or after the pivotal event. 
[Photo by Kevin Huang, YWP Photo Library]


Is there something special or unusual about your family? Do you have a kooky aunt or a famous cousin? Do you have a favorite spot where you gather in the summer? Funny family traditions and rituals?
[Unsplash, photo by Mike Scheid] 

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...


Reverence is defined as "deep respect for someone or something." Write about something that you regard with reverence.
[Unsplash, photo by Tiago Felipe Ferreria]


[Photos by LadyMidnight]
Post your favorite photos that shout "SUMMER!!"

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...


[YWP Photo Archive]
At what age should Americans be allowed to vote? In Canada, the New Democratic Party supports lowering the voting age in federal elections to 16. In the U.S., this idea is also gaining some traction, including from U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, a Democrat from Massachusetts. What do you think? 


Whether you’ve visited it yourself or only seen it in pictures (like this one by YWP's Graceful), the ocean is likely to conjure up a specific image, memory, or emotion unique to you. Nurture that natural response to write a poem or story inspired by the sea.


[Photo by Ruth Enyedi on Unsplash]
Student debt has become an issue in the presidential campaign. Some people say it is burdening an entire generation and needs to be written off by the government. Others say it favors those who already have the advantage of a college education. What do you think?


You have three wishes and they will all come true in sequence — tomorrow, and on your 25th and 50th birthdays. What do you wish for?
[Photo credit: YWP Media Library, photo by Carmella Clark]

CJP-Trump's Words

[Photo credit: Daniel Minarik, Unsplash]
The president’s rhetoric has changed the way hundreds of children are harassed in American classrooms, The Washington Post reports in an investigative piece published Feb. 13, 2020. Read the story, Trump’s words, bullied...

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!



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...


Using the Shakespearian form, write a sonnet (abab cdcd efef gg). If you feel so called, write in Old English or start with a line from one of Shakespeare's sonnets. Examples: A woman’s face with Nature’s own hand painted; Farewell! Thou art too dear for my possessing; Some glory in their birth, some in their skill; OR, the most famous: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? [Challenge by LadyMidnight]​


Sometimes you get a feeling in the pit of your stomach about a person or situation. Was there ever a time when your intuition was right? What happened? What about a time when you were wrong?
[YWP photo library, photo by Shawn Baker] 


[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?


It feels good to help others. Write about a time you helped someone — who they were, why you did it, and how it all turned out. Fiction or real.
[Photo by Jeniffer Araújo on Unsplash]

Writing Tips

What is the best tip about writing that you have ever heard? Add your response to some gems we found from past YWPers. And here's one from "The Elements of Style:" Be clear, brief and bold.
Back story: In 1919, E.B. White was a student at Cornell University where he took an English class that had a huge influence on him. The class was with William Strunk, Jr., and required reading for the course was the professor's self-published book, "The Elements of Style." ...


[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?


[YWP Photo Archive]
What do adults get wrong about teenagers?


New classes, new classmates – it can be hard to introduce yourself to someone for the first time. Describe some ways to "break the ice" with people that can begin a beautiful friendship.
[Photo credit: YWP Media Library]


Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash
There were more than 550,000 homeless people in the United States on any given night in 2018. Imagine yourself in that place, and write.


Describe a place that feels like home, but isn’t what you would consider your actual home. In what ways does this safe/special setting bring you comfort?
[Photo credit: YWP Media Library, photo by Charlotte Hughes]


[Photo credit: Annie Bolin, Unsplash]
Gun control measures will always hit a wall of opposition, as happened in Viriginia recently. But if you think gun control matters, speak out. What message would you send?


[Art by cedar]
Add your photos, sketches, and paintings of life during the pandemic for YWP's Social Distancing Journal project! Address the coronavirus's impact from the everyday reality of social distancing to the things that bring you joy or help you take your mind off this strange time.


Write in the style of a writer you admire — just the opening paragraph of a short story or the first stanza of a poem. Be sure to state the name of the author at the bottom of your piece.
[Photo: Hanah Grace, Unsplash]


Author Seth Godin says, “Art is a personal act of courage.” With art -- either in words or images -- show your own personal act of courage.
[YWP photo library, photo by Jaylin Seaman] 


[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.)


You are granted the gift of one do-over from your past. What would it be? Why?
[Unsplash, photo by Khadeeja Yasser]


Join Igniting Writing in the UK, and other young writers from Ireland and Ohio for this fun, international writing contest. The theme is Explore. Take it wherever you want. But it must be fiction, it must be original, and it must be submitted by Sept. 1.
Read all the details here.



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


[Credit: Amy Hirschi, Unsplash]
Check out the Journalism 101 interviewing tips, choose a classmate, preferably someone you don't know well, and interview this person with the goal of writing a solid profile. Then ask the person to interview you. Use whatever tools you have to document and/or record the interview.


Have you ever taken a risk and found it paid off? Often, just by trying and not being afraid to try, we find success. Write a story that explores this theme, real or fictional.
[Photo credit: YWP Media Library, photo by Katelyn Turner]


A challenge for Fiona Ella's Hazel's House series.


Writing about music is an art in itself, often challenging writers to translate sounds into colorful turns of phrase and rich metaphors. Music critic Tim Rutherford-Johnson, for instance, once compared a rugged piece of music to "granite in November rain." Find a piece of music that appeals to you, and try to describe it to someone who has never heard it.
[Photo credit: YWP Media Library, photo by David Wrenner]...


[Photo credit: Belinda Fewings, Unsplash]
The World Happiness Report, an annual survey that ranks 156 countries by their citizens' happiness, puts Finland first (2019 and 2018), followed by Denmark, Norway, and Iceland. The U.S. ranked 19th. Explore the report. What could we learn from the Nordic way of life?


[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?


Have you ever met someone and felt you’ve known them your entire life, or perhaps in another life? Describe the experience.
[Photo by Abbs Johnson, Unsplash]


In great detail, describe the best sandwich you’ve ever had. What was on this incredible sandwich? Who made it? Where were you?
[Unsplash, photo by Eiliv Sonas Aceron]


[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?


One of the most effective elements in storytelling is to write about change — the fact that something has shifted, for the better or for the worse, or perhaps that it is just different now and things cannot go back to the way they were. Write about a situation, an emotion, a perception, a sequence of events, anything that results in a permanent change.
[Unsplash, photo by Ross Findon]


Join Igniting Writing in the UK, and other young writers from Ireland and Ohio for this fun, international writing contest. The theme is Explore. Take it wherever you want. But it must be fiction, it must be original, and it must be submitted by Sept. 1.
Read all the details here.


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...

CJP-Photo Essay1

[Photo credit: Rutland by Icarus Blackmore]
Create a photo essay of your community. This could be a general collection of photos, or have a theme (front porches, town forest, main street, farmers' market, civic buildings, etc.). Along with the photos, write a short commentary that reflects the sense of place, what makes it unique or special to you. Remember to identify the photos.


Write about yourself in a way that is positive. Express an appreciation for your own best qualities, talents, ideas, activities, and hopes and dreams.
[Photo credot: YWP Media Library, photo by Ella Staats]


In the book "Night," Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel writes about his experiences as a Jewish prisoner in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps during the Second World War. Respond to Wiesel's story in words or images. 


We all talk, but how well do we listen? Create a situation that turns on the ability of a character to really hear what someone else is saying. 
[YWP Media Library, photo by Elizabeth Goodrich]


[Illustration: Unsplash Visuals]
The coronavirus (COVID-19) has seized our world, attacking our health, our economy, our everyday life. Write about this invader and how it's changing our lives.

State Colleges

[Northern University-Lyndon campus, photo by Glenn Russell, VTDigger]
Blaming the pandemic as the last straw in its chronic budget problems, Vermont State Colleges announced April 17 that the Lyndon and Johnson campuses of Northern Vermont University and the Randolph campus of Vermont Technical College would close, cutting 500 jobs in the three communities. A public backlash has delayed a vote on the decision....


 Have you ever thought to yourself, “Wait a minute… why isn’t that a thing already?” Explain your product or idea to the world.
[Unsplash, photo by Raul Varzar]


What do you want your legacy to be? What is the one thing or personal characteristic you would like to be remembered for?
[Unsplash, photo by Laura Fuhrman]


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


Write a story that takes place over the course of just one day, where something very important happens.
[Unsplash, photo by Gabriel Santiago]


[Illustration and challenge idea from Kittykatruff]
You've been planning a surprise party for someone special for months, and so far, you've been able to keep the secret. But on the morning of the party, something unexpected happens to threaten the surprise. Tell the story through dialogue.

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 ________.”


Write a story or a poem about a personal moment in your life, a time you felt truly proud of yourself and not because someone told you so. A time when you felt like you were on top of the world. When nothing could stop you and you were a force to be reckoned with


Is there a house you pass by on the way to school that always gives you the creeps, or a stretch of woods nearby that you would never set foot in? Write the PG-rated tale of a haunted location, either from your imagination or by researching local/regional urban legends. 
[Photo credit: YWP Media Library, photo by Cassidy Mancuso]


[Photo credit: ​Andy Feliciotti, Unsplash]
For only the fourth time in U.S. history, a president is facing impeachment. The charges are that President Trump abused his office in an attempt to get Ukraine to launch investigations into Trump's political opponent, Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden, and that he obstructed Congress's investigation into the matter. Should the president be impeached? What do you hope for...


Sometimes our mood can turn wistful, defined as "full of yearning or desire tinged with melancholy." Write a poem or story that conveys this feeling through tone and careful word choice.
[Photo credit: YWP Media Library, photo by Rachel Ahokas]


[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 Prompt!

Credit: "Reaching" by mythicalquill
We've come to the end of our Weekly Challenges for 2018-19 -- and now we're creating next year's list! WE NEED YOUR HELP!! Post your best, original writing prompts for the 2019-20 Weekly Challenges here. We'll collect them and make the BIG LIST. Inspiring, fun, serious, silly, creative, thought-provoking, original prompts wanted!

Earth Day 2020

[Photos by Inkpaw]
In honor of Earth Day this week, take a moment to write or draw or photograph your gratitude for Mother Earth.


The writer Clive James said, "Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing." How would you describe humor?
[Unsplash, photo by Marcus Lewis]


[Challenge by Adele Brunstad; "Sad Bear" Photo by Crescent_Moon]
In a photo or drawing, capture yourself and/or your family doing something that is unique to these times, something that you probably wouldn't do under "normal" circumstances. Or share a photo or sketch of something uniquely COVID that you've seen.


Read through recently posted content on youngwritersproject.org until you find a piece that inspires you. Sprout from that piece to write a related poem or story that is distinctly your own, and remember to credit the writer who sparked your interest.
[Unsplash, photo by Maryna Bohucharska]

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.


Write about someone who has the ability to change shape. Can they take the shape of a wolf, another human, a virus, a plant, a chair, a speck of dust? What are the limits of their power, if any? What do they use them for?
[Photo credit: YWP Media Library, illustrstion by Abrie Howe]


You have a chance to move to this planet, but you have to convince the rest of your family that it’s a good idea. Maybe real estate’s cheap. Maybe it’s a chance for adventure and a brand new start. Write a persuasive argument.
[Photo credit: YWP Media Library, collage by Anna Forsythe]


[YWP Photo Library]
Where is home for you? What physical or emotional space makes you feel sheltered, safe, “at home?” OR begin or end with this phrase: “Under the shelter of my roof …”


Credit: De controleon, www.flickr.com/photos/tekstbazaar
1. Create a story about what's happening in the sequence of these photos. And/or 2. Create your own 5-photo story. Try to find a place with a lot of movement, a busy street corner or even your own kitchen. Use your friends or family if you want to stage it. Let the photos tell the story, or add...


[Challenge created by Adelle Brunstad; Photo by Kevin Huang, YWP Photo Library]
What is an issue or problem in the world that the coronavirus pandemic has amplified or brought to the surface?


If you could break any world record, what would it be and how would you do it?
[Unsplash, photo by Nghia Le]


[Photo by beautiful]
Haiku is a short form of poetry adapted from Japanese tradition. Each poem consists of three lines; the first line has five syllables, the second line has seven syllables, and the third line has five. (5-7-5)
Find an interesting place where you can sit and observe, uninterrupted. Focus on a tiny, detail -- a color, a texture, a movement. Create a haiku by describing (...


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


Warren G. Harding, the 29th president of the United States, once said: "There's good in everybody. Boost. Don't knock." Write about how this has meaning for your own daily life at school.
[Unsplash, photo by Nicolas Gras]


Muse magazine once asked kids to name the colors in an imaginary box of crayons, and instead of the usual colors, they came up with inventive names like Scary Movie Popcorn Yellow and Cat's Eye Nebula Red. What would you rename an array of colors (like those in the photo by YWP's Dancer)?


[Photo: Eric Baradat, AFP, New York Times]
The death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis, MN on May 25, has sparked protests, vigils, and demonstrations over this and other racial incidents that have happened across the nation. Get your thoughts out. Write about it.

Winter '19

Winter is coming soon. Write a short, descriptive poem or story about this distinctive season. Avoid cliches, and complaints. Express what is satisfying, beautiful and amazing about it. The best works will be selected for presentation by the Vermont Stage Company at its annual production of Winter Tales in Burlington in December. 
[Photo credit: YWP Media Library, photo by Vivien Sorce]


[Photo: Grace Safford, YWP Photo Library]
Write about a kindness you have witnessed or heard about. What impact does it have? OR write about an act of kindness you would like to see or be part of.


Enter the mind of a character in an interesting, difficult, funny, or odd situation and describe what they are thinking over the course of one minute. Match your story to "real time," so that it only takes about one minute to read.
[Photo credit: YWP Media Library, photo by Ella Staats]


[Photo credit: Jon Tyson, Unsplash]
Despite the federal and state fair housing laws, many Vermonters experience discrimination and don’t have access to quality, affordable homes. What is the impact of this inequity on the state?


Respond to one or all of these prompts for potential inclusion in VT filmmaker Bess O'Brien's Listen Up Project.
1. People always tell me ...
2. What parents need to know ....
3. If I was in charge...
4. Write whatever's on your mind ...


[Challenge by Adelle Brunstad; Photo by Catbatgirl]
What is something that someone has done for you, or you have done for them, during these times that has made all the difference?


The end of the rainbow is a myth, right? Through poetry or prose, write about someone who happens upon that great meeting of earth and color (literally or figuratively). What do they see, what do they feel? 
[Unsplash, photo by Jason Leung]


Check out Kurt Vonnegut's "The Shapes of Stories" and draw or write your own shape. More here.



The Senate majority leader has agreed to read one letter from one student in the U.S., and take action based on what the letter says. Your letter has been chosen. The letter has to be 250 words or less. Write the letter.
[Unsplash, photo by Alvaro Serrano]


Imagine you are the eyes behind this photograph by YWP's Selena Bulan. Have you just stumbled across a way out of the forest, with intense relief – or have you just ventured in? Tell the story.


Share your best writing and photos here! Any genre. Anything goes.



There is no anticipation quite like the days counting down to Christmas morning or another holiday that is meaningful to you and your family. Write about how that felt for you as a young child — or how it still feels today.
[Photo credit: YWP Media Library, photo by Katelyn MacEsker]


[Photo by Justin Veenema on Unsplash]
Write a letter to a bully and show how destructive/immature/negative this person's behavior is. Use words to rise above.


Begin a poem or story with the words, “Tomorrow, I hope...”
[Photo credit: YWP Media Library, photo by Swantje Stein]


[Photo credit: New York Public Library, Unsplash]
Dear Mother Earth ... Write a letter that expresses your hopes and dreams for her.

Celebrating Poetry

[Edna St. Vincent Millay portrait by Rhys Rountree: Robert Frost by Laura Schaner, Crossroads Academy]
Any month is Poetry Month at YWP, but April is officially National Poetry Month, organized by the Academy of American Poets to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry. Show your appreciation by creating visual interpretations of your favorite poems and poets -- in any month. This challenge comes to YWP from English...


Begin or end a story or poem with, “If only I could reach a little farther ...”
[Unsplash, photo by Marc-Oliver Jodoin]


"It was the most beautiful shade of blue ..." Start or finish a story or poem with this line (an old YWP favorite!) Write about an object, a setting, a person's eyes, the twilight. Help the reader fully see and feel the color.
[Photo by Graceful]


[Photo credit: Hunter Haley, Unsplash]
For the Community Journalism Project, you are a journalist. What characteristics and tools will help you be successful in this role? Here's a partial list to get you started. 
A journalist needs:
  • An open, independent mind
  • Curiosity 
  • Patience
  • The ability to listen, learn, and synthesize information
  • Bravery and a...


“Put yourself in my shoes,” the saying goes, often spoken by someone asking another to see things from their perspective. Whose shoes (like these sneakers of YWP's NiñaEstrella) would you like to try on, in order to get a better understanding of their life experiences? 


[Calligraphy by Sophie.D]
Think about your daily life. What is one thing you could start doing today to help ease climate change?


Complete the thought, “I feel alive when…” in just two paragraphs.
[Photo credit: YWP Media Library, photo by Charlotte Hughes]


Qasem Soleimani, a top general in Iran, was killed by a US airstrike in Baghdad on Friday, Jan. 3. His successor has vowed retribution for his death. Crowds have flooded the streets to honor Soleimani and to protest against the US, which is sending additional troops to the Middle East. Read about this conflict. Write.


Sometimes when positive/negative emotions peak at unexpected moments, our bodies have instant, visible reactions. Goosebumps, blushing, chills, twitching, and hives are all examples of this. Write about a memorable time you experienced one of these exterior changes in great excitement or duress. What was going on?
[Photo credit: YWP Media Library, photo by Shawn Baker]

Create Challenges

[Photo credit: Amador Loureiro, Unsplash]
Hey YWP! Help write original, inspiring challenges for next year's Weekly Writing Challenges or the Summer of Stories challenges! Have fun! Anything goes! Just one requirement: They must be your own creations, not from the internet or other sources. Just your imagination. We'll credit you if your challenge is included in the...


Write as a person trapped in the form of an animal. How did this happen and how do they react? Do they manage to undo the transformation, and if so, how?
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Tyler Poulin]


Write the story of someone with extraordinarily good luck or excruciatingly bad luck. What is everyday life like for them? Were they born with this luck, enchanted, or does it come from an object? What experiences and emotions result from it? Show the character in action.
[Photo credit: Alain Pham, Unsplash]


The pet store is closing in five minutes and you have to make a choice -- which pet to take home and which to leave behind. What do you do?
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Madi Cohen]


You’ve been commissioned to illustrate the cover of a new edition of your favorite book from your childhood. Submit the illustration to your YWP blog (and tell us the title of the book).
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Madi Cohen]

Post Your Art & Photos!

YWP is looking for your visual art -- photographs and scanned art -- to be featured in our monthly magazine, The Voice, on the front page of the site, the newspaper series, and the Anthology! Respond to this challenge and post your best photos and art!



You wake up slowly, your eyes gradually adjusting. Suddenly, you're on your feet, looking frantically in every direction. You don't recognize a thing. Where are you? How did you get here and what happens next?
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Kevin Huang]


Good titles introduce, describe and catch interest. Deciding on one can be a complex process. Pick one of your pieces that you think has a perfect title -- or rename the piece after giving it some more thought. In a short essay, explain how the title relates to the piece it introduces. Is there a separate story about the title itself?
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Abigail Harkness, challenge submitted by Hazel Civalier, YWP]


Begin or end a poem or story with the phrase, “She was beautiful, but in a different sort of way.”
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Shannon Ripp]


An official phone alert wakes you up from a deep sleep. It says, "We are under attack. Lock your doors and bar your windows." Hundreds of random numbers are sending, "Let me in." Write a short, fast-paced story to match the urgency of the situation.
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Samantha Aikman]



A two-part challenge. 1. Write a story of 500 characters. 2. Copy your best and post them here as a blog response. Details:
  • WRITE a story that is real or made-up or half and half. 
    • Write your 500-character story on TINY WRITES
    • Write a lot of them on a regular basis.
  • THEN, post your best, on an ongoing basis, as a response to this challenge. 
    • AND use the...


Some say that grades are a true reflection of learning.  What do you think?


Write about a character who realizes their perception of reality is completely different from that of most people, including those closest to the character. How does your character react upon discovering this? Why do they see things differently?
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Kevin Huang]

15 Words

Describe yourself in 15 words. No more, no less... A sentence, phrases, whatever you'd like.

For the avids:
Describe anyone or anything around you. Just remember: only 15.


Facebook is slumping, hit by accusations that it has been sloppy with users' data and manipulated by foreign adversaries. Do you like Facebook? 



Write your own fable. Keep it short, but include the essential ingredients (non-human characters, conflict that leads to a moral, etc.)
Essential ingredients
1: Your moral. What message are you trying to tell? What wrong are you trying to right?
2: Your characters. Who are they? What are they?
3: What conflict arises?
4: What setting are you in? (You don't always need to describe it, unless it is relevant to the plot.)



Photo-8 Cat

You adopt a cat that you think is pretty ordinary … but when you bring it home and start talking to it absentmindedly, it responds to you -- and only you -- with the most expressive facial expressions. Describe your interactions.
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Abigail Harkness]


[Photo credit: Kevin Huang]
Ask someone to give you a word. Take the word and build a poem around it.
(This challenge idea comes from irishjayne, who used the word "fog.")


What happens at your house when no one is home? What’s the first thing the inanimate objects do? Have a party? Hop into the hot tub? Play tricks on the absent humans? Write a whimsical tale.
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Madi Cohen]


Imagine a talking forest where the trees’ dialogue reflects their characteristics: sweet-talking maples, cool but prickly spruce? What do the trees say? Write their dialogue.
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Shannon Ripp]


Write about a family experiencing a hurricane. What do they say to each other while they’re huddled in the basement, listening to their house being battered and torn apart?
[Photo by noaa.gov]


Write a story that leads your readers to believe it’s about one thing, but it turns out to be about something else entirely. Make it wacky and surprising!
[YWP Photo Library]


Write about the relationship between a child and an imaginary friend from the perspective of the child or the friend. What’s the personality of this invisible character, and why does the child take such comfort in their company?
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Holly Margulius]


This challenge has $$$ prizes! DUE: March 15. More details here.

1. Write a persuasive essay urging people to take action against the invasive insect, emerald ash borer (EAB). Present a fact-based argument. You might include why this matters, how communities and homeowners can respond to EAB, and why a response is needed.
2. In poetry or prose, tell the story of an ash tree that is threatened by EAB. You might stretch back to the ash...


Photo by Erik Nyhagen 
Tell a story about a magical experience related to this time of year -- winter, solstice, special holidays, snow sports. Real or imagined.


You’ve always wanted to dye your hair a gorgeous new color, and when you finally get up the nerve to do it, something goes terribly wrong. You didn’t read the fine print on the bottle. Now what?
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Madi Cohen]


When you go to wake your child one morning, you immediately sense that the baby in the crib is not yours. While they look the same, you know in your heart your own child has been replaced. Does anyone believe you? How do you rescue your child?
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Kevin Huang; challenge submitted by Rowan Potzler]


Classic stories and myths are full of prophecies. Write about a character who is warned about a future event. Do they listen? What’s the source of the messages? Is the oracle thing legit or is it made up?
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Alexandra Contreras-Montesano]


Read the Robert Frost poem, “Design.” In describing the industrious spider and the flower, he says so much more. Choose a simple plant or animal and create a poem in the style of Frost.
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Tess LaLonde]


Check out this video and more from the anti-bullying campaign, Because of You. "Because of you, people can feel empowered and loved, but also insecure and hurt... Before you say or do something, think about how you might make others feel." Write about your own experience.


Some colleges are turning away from SAT and ACT scores when reviewing high...


Where is your home? Far away in another land? Or here, where you live today? Read this poem "Home" by Balkisa Omar,  a member of the Vermont slam poetry group Muslim Girls Making Change. Write about your own experience of home.
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Alexandra Contreras-Montesano]


“They were almost ready to leave, but now there was a problem.” Using this phrase as inspiration, what happens next?
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Tess LaLonde]

Photo-9 Swings

What are the dynamics in this group of friends? Do they all get along? Is there tension between some but not others? Imagine their dialogue as they swing. What are they saying to each other?
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Alexandra Contreras-Montesano]


Spring is a time of rebirth and nature kicking in for its big show. Write a poem or story about a plant, animal or creature, real or imagined, coming to life.
[YWP Photo Library, illustration by Ada Shookenhuff]


Listen to a favorite song and either write your interpretation of the lyrics or use them as inspiration for a poem, story or another song. What mental images do the lyrics evoke? Remember to list the song title and credit the artist.
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Abigail Harkness, challenge submitted by Hazel Civalier, YWP]


Write a story as a series of letters or diary entries. Popular books that use this method include The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Dear Mr. Henshaw, Letters from Rifka, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Kevin Huang]


Listen to the sound file and write the opening scene for a play, inspired by what the sounds make you feel: suspense, discomfort, anticipation? 
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Sophia Cannizzaro, sound by freesound.org]

Photo-10 Vacation

You’ve just won a dream vacation, and you can pick the location and one traveling companion. Where do you go and with whom do you travel? Describe the sensation of being lifted from your everyday life into a paradise of your choosing.
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Rebecca Orten]


Take a walk in your neighborhood, on a farm, in a city, down a school hallway. Stop for a moment and use as many senses as you can to describe what you see, hear, touch, smell -- and maybe even taste. Write a poem about your discoveries.
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Kevin Huang]

Got your back

Credit: Elijah M. Henderson, Unsplash
Write a poem or story to someone who needs encouragement in their life and remind them that you are there for them. Send it to that person. (Challenge created by LadyMidnight)


Photo by Jens Lelie on Unsplash
Think about a time in your life when you couldn't make a decision about something. Describe it. (Challenge created by LeahW.)


You've walked past this sign for years. One day, it seems to be calling you inside -- and the adventure begins. Tell the story.


Describe a time, real or fictional, when you have to summon up your courage. Focus on the actual "moment of truth," when time slows down and you have to commit to breaking through. What happens and how do you feel afterward?


You have just been put in charge of the world, but you can only make one rule. What is it and what events or experiences led you to it?


Some people believe that forests are enchanted places, with elves living there. Write a story or poem about the forest elves. Or tell the tale of a person who doesn't believe this, but then something happens to make them less certain.


Thomas Jefferson said, "I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it." Write about a situation in which you, or a character you create, put a lot of work into something, and then luck seems to follow.


Two strangers happen upon a bag of money while they're waiting for a train. Who are they? What do they do?


Choose one of the photos in the slideshow and write a story or poem about it.


Write a poem or short story about someone who is allergic to something really strange. What happens to them when they are exposed to this thing? Is is a food or some kind of object?
Use sensory details to make the story pop.


Some school years have a distinct aroma -- kindergarten might smell like glue sticks, second grade like lunchtime in the cafeteria, maybe eighth grade smells like a new book. These aromas can take you back to that place and time. Write about your own experience with certain years having their own special scent.
[Unsplash, photo by Pawan Kawan]


[Photo by Ilya Ilford on 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 front, side, and back-lighting. Post your photos in a slideshow.

Notes on Lighting:
Lighting plays a major role in how...


Write a reflection on someone you know. Describe them in terms of a scent, an object, a place, an emotion, anything that comes to mind. No names -- or insults, please! (This challenge was created in response to Vanilla by Spirit Bird.)


Write to one or all of these Climate Change challenges created by YWP's Hazel Civalier and Sophie Dauerman for their special SoundCheck on Climate Change on Thursday, Nov. 15 at Burlington City Arts, 135 Church St., Burlington, VT, from 6-8 pm!


 - Artistically portray a place in nature that you believe we should protect: Is it favorite park or hike where you relax? Does it contain a national monument? A...


Can't we do better? Kiah Morris, who represented...


Your character is immersed in an unsettling and unfamiliar setting — a claustrophobic character in a cave, a first-time skier on top of a steep mountain, a city where no one speaks the character's language. Describe the environment and the character's reaction to it in a short scene.
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Kevin Huang]


You’re babysitting two rambunctious children who have finally gone to bed. You’re exhausted and start drifting off to sleep on the couch, when you hear this sound. What is it? What do you do? https://freesound.org/people/tim.kahn/sounds/435490/
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Tess LaLonde]

Photo-6 Satire

Try your hand at satiric comics such as this one from Burlington YWPer Connor Byam. Tap into your artistic side. Throw in some humor -- and voila!
[YWP Photo Library, illustration by Connor Byam]

Photo-5 Child

Addie Card was 12 and working as a spinner in a mill in North Pownal, VT, when photographer Lewis Hine took this photo in 1910. Find out more about America’s child laborers by researching Hine’s photos. Write a poem or story based on this photo or others you find.
[Photo credit: Lewis Hine, Library of Congress]


Write about someone who tastes words, sees music and voices and/or hears colors. How do they use their mixed-up senses to their advantage, and what struggles do they face because of them?
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Kevin Huang]


Write about a world in which trees can talk and/or move on their own. How would trees be treated if they could speak for themselves? What would they say to each other -- and to us?
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Kevin Huang]


The fourth wall is the conceptual barrier between any fictional work and readers. Write a piece that breaks the fourth wall with a character who is aware of being fictional, and directly communicates to the reader.
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Jessica Belliveau]


There is a new sport that’s growing in popularity: people fly kites that joust with each other in the air. Are the kites alive, enchanted, or built with advanced technology? What are the prizes for winning, and the consequences of losing?
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Creative Commons]


A higher power decides to grant a superpower to all 7.6 billion people on planet Earth. But there’s a catch — if any two people name the same power, it becomes ineffective. What unique power do you choose, and what do you do with it? 
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Lia Chien]


Vermont winters can be brutal and beautiful at the same time. Using descriptive language, write a story or poem that takes place in the dead of winter. Illustrate it with photos or drawings if you like.
[YWP Photo Library, illustration by Ada Shookenhuff]


Tell a story about your experience of winter in short, descriptive poetry or prose. Be original. Avoid clichés. The best will be selected for presentation by the Vermont Stage Company at its annual Winter Tales production in Burlington in December.
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Lia Chien]


You’re a terrifying creature — everyone is afraid of you — but you feel completely misunderstood. How did the world come to perceive you this way? Can you change their perception? Tell the story.
[YWP Photo Library]


Pick a word and give it your own personal definition. Perhaps to you, “friendship” means the secrets that are whispered at 3 AM in the dark, “pineapple” brings to mind an infamous childhood prank and "flower" is a sunny afternoon in your grandmother's garden.
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Hazel Civalier]


Write a story leading up to a major event or holiday and end it before it actually happens. Try to leave your readers wondering by playing around with ambiguity and cliffhangers.
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Abigail Harkness]


Fall is a time of transition in nature. What if it were for humans as well? Using elements of the season as your inspiration, write a poem about someone who undergoes a biological transition every autumn, .
[YWP Photo Library, illustration by Callie Cox]

Photo-4 Friends

What's the story behind these two friends? 
[YWP Photo Library, illustration by Ada Shookenhuff]


Write a story or poem starting with the line, “It had been a long time, but now he was here.”
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Ada Shookenhuff]


Delicious meals are universally regarded as a labor of love. Tell the story of a recipe from start to finish: harvesting blackberries to make jam, foraging for mushrooms, roasting marshmallows—and how the experience affects the people who prepare and eat the meal.
[YWP Photo Library, painting by Ada Shookenhuff]


Psychologists tell us our earliest memories typically form between the ages of 3 and 4. What is your earliest memory, and how old were you? Are the details hazy, or do you see and feel it clearly?
[YWP Photo Library, Photo by Kevin Huang]


Your character is having an argument with someone. They begin hurling insults at each other, but without the use of profanity, slurs or comments about appearance. Maybe they end up laughing at the absurdity. Maybe they part in anger. Tell the story through their dialogue, showing the most creative fighting words they exchange. 
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Antonia Armstrong-Laird]


Imagine if 70° Fahrenheit weather — that pleasant, almost perfect temperature— were a person. How would the characteristics of 70°F weather be represented in a person? What would an interaction with them be like?
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Kevin Huang]


The first day at school, camp, a new job can be nerve-wracking. Write about a memorable first day experience of your own or make one up, whether funny, mortifying or sad.
[YWP Photo Library, Educational Technology Clearinghouse - University of South Florida]


You have been invited to join a club that you’ve only heard wild rumors about. If you decide to join, what do you find out? What is the club really about? Are there bizarre initiation rituals and secret handshakes? Or if you take a pass, how do you come to your decision -- and live with that decision?
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Abigail Harkness]

Photo-4 Circus

Use this photo, taken at Shelburne Museum, as inspiration to write a story about a circus or carnival with dazzling acts touring the country.
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Hazel Civalier]

Photo-1 Sunset

Your character wanders off to this dock to watch the sunset. Something important has just happened and they need time alone. Tell the story.
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Nora Wootten]


Write about someone who is ruler of something very strange or very silly. How did they become the leader? What “laws” do they pass? Who are their subjects and enemies, and how do they cope with this empire?
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Kevin Huang]


Use your best persuasive skills to convince your teacher or another adult to do something or believe something. What is the conversation in which you urge, coax or demand, and how does it turn out?
[Photo credit: Lewis Hine, Library of Congress] 


Don’t ignore me! Write from the perspective of a character that you wish you would see more often or more accurately in the media, TV and movies.
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Kevin Huang]


Write a poem or story that ends with a greeting. What is the backstory? Lead the reader along with you up to the point of the greeting, which might be a surprise (“Oh, hello!”), or a test of will (“Hi, my friends made me do this…”) or a coincidence (“Joe?! What are you doing here?”).
[YWP Photo Library, photo by ​Amanda Seavers]


What improvements would you like to see at your school this year? Longer lunches? Later start time? More play, less work? Write a persuasive letter to your school officials, making a case for positive changes.
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Tess LaLonde]


Write about people in an unconventional afterlife. Maybe people are grouped for eternity by how often they laugh and they party, maybe they are immediately assigned a job position to help influence life back on Earth, maybe they have to drift around outer space together ... Let your creativity flow! What is life like for the dead?
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Tess LaLonde]


Write a description of yourself or someone you love. Include as many details of appearance, personality, habits and behavior as you can. If you like, use figurative or metaphorical language along with more concrete details.
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Alexis Donna]


The midterm elections are approaching -- Nov. 6, 2018 -- and whether or not you are old enough to vote, your voice matters. Prompted by today's Daily Read, "Midterms," persuade people to vote. The midterms mark the middle of Republican President Trump's term, and all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate are being contested.


“The scene in front of her was almost perfect. Almost.” Finish the story.
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Rebecca Orten]

Photo-2 Guitar

The man strumming his guitar says to you, “You’re a different soul, aren’t you?” What sets you apart from the crowd? 
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Holly Margulius; challenge submitted by Rowan Potzler, YWP.]

Photo-3 Thinking

What is this girl thinking? Write her internal dialogue. Is she looking at you as she thinks? Or is she focused on something or someone else?
[YWP Photo Library, illustration by Zoe Maxwell]


[Credit: Gerardo Mora/Getty Images, anti-Trump rally, New York Times]
"How do you love America? Stand up against narrow-mindedness and racism. Don’t turn away. Stay with it until you have done all that you can do." - David Maraniss, from "...

Tic Tac


Overnight, your character shrinks to the size of a Tic Tac. What dangers await this...


[Photo: Officers hang a flag with an image of the twin towers. Credit: Brittainy Newman/The New York Times]
From reading and learning about 9/11, write about its impact. Read this New York Times story about a young man whose mother was lost that day. The four 9/11 attacks against the...

CJP-Arts Critic

Young Writers Project writers attend Kinetic Light's DESCENT at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts on Oct. 30 and write a 500-word (max) review of the show.

CJP-Where I Live

[Photo credit: Kevin Huang, YWP Photo Archive]
Take a moment to think about where you live. What makes it unique, special, feel like home? Maybe it could be better, but for this challenge, focus on what's good about it -- and write, draw, paint, or take photos!


Greta Thunberg, 16, the Swedish environmental activist who has inspired people around the world to fight climate change, is Time magazine's Person of the Year for 2019, the youngest ever to receive the honor. If you're inspired, write a letter to Greta congratulating her and share your thoughts on climate change. Read the story in The Washington Post.


Civil Rights Leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sought to guide us to a more just America. Respond to Dr. King's message of love and equality as it relates to America in 2020: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." (Strength to Love, 1963)


[Photo Kevin...


[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!


[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?


[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.