WEEKLY CHALLENGES

Throughout the summer of 2020 we'll have new challenges each week. Just click on the week to see the challenges. The list will grow as the summer unfolds. You can respond to any of the challenges any time, out of order, in order, doesn't matter. The Summer of Stories is about having fun and staying connected with your YWP friends. And remember you can always write anything, anytime, using the General tag, and upload any photos and art using the Visual tag. Have fun!

NEW TO YWP? To respond to a challenge, click on its title and it will pop up. Click "Respond." This will open a new blog form in your account that links directly to the challenge. Fill in Title; select a Category; Write in the Body section; or for images, go to Add Media > Image > Browse > Upload. For a slideshow, use Advanced Upload. And SAVE.
[Illustration by Autumn Larocque, Danville School]
This Week! WEEK 12: Aug. 3
Habit: 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.

Liar: Begin or end a poem or story with this phrase: “Don’t lie; I know it was you.”

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!

John Lewis: Civil rights leader and longtime Georgia Congressman John Lewis, who died July 17, believed in "good trouble, necessary trouble" to fight injustice, create change, and "redeem the soul of America" through civil rights, voting rights, gun control, health care reform. He believed that you are never too young to make positive change. Read John Lewis's final essay here. How can we keep Lewis's legacy alive?
WEEK 1: May 18
Go: "I just want to go ..." finish the sentence and explain where, why, when, and how you will make it happen!

Face: 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?

Clouds: Clouds are a wonder of nature, constantly shifting shape as they move through the sky. Go cloud-watching. Take photos and share them on your blog.
WEEK 2: May 25
Fearless: "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.

Golden: 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?

Pet-Pix: Got a cute pet? Share your photos.
WEEK 3: June 1
In the News/Community Journalism Project prompt: George Floyd: 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.

MLK's Message: 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 now: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." (Strength to Love, 1963)

Up Close: 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.

Story Starter: 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 speaks to you and write everything that comes to mind for two minutes.
Look at what you've written and think about what would make the most interesting story. What's the hidden story here? Set your watch or timer for another two minutes. Write everything you can related to the theme or topic you chose. Now give some thought to the basic elements of a narrative – the main character; the want/need (or dilemma); is there a protagonist? what’s the climax or turn? Write down any details you think of. Do you see an idea – and design for a story – starting to form? If so, write it! Final tip: When writing a story, it’s better to start a little later than you think you should and end it a little sooner than you think you should.

I never ... 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 ________.”
WEEK 4: June 8
In the News/Community Journalism Project prompt:

BLM: Support for the Black Lives Matter movement has leaped forward since the death of George Floyd in police custody on May 25. In the past two weeks, US voters’ support for the movement increased almost as much as it had in the preceding two years, the New York Times reports ("Public Opinion Rarely Moves Fast, but It Has on Black Lives Matter," June 10, 2020). Write about this shift in thinking and what it says about where we are today and where we could be tomorrow.

Oppressed: "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. And this should lead to an enduring lesson: America often sees itself more clearly through the eyes of the harassed and oppressed." Write about this thought or simply consider its meaning.

Change: A Washington Post editorial – This movement is not anarchy. It could push America to be a better nation – shows the power of people standing together, "persisting even as the nation reels from a pandemic and economic shock," to share compassion and a commitment to change. The largely nonviolent multiracial, multigenerational protests across the nation in response to the May 25 death of George Floyd under a policeman’s knee in Minneapolis are not "anarchy," as President Trump has said. They are "America doing what it does best," the editorial says, "which is seeking to improve itself." Can we do it, America? What do you think?

Three Objects: 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.

Pastoral: 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.

100: 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. [Challenge created by EpicElle]
WEEK 5: June 15
Angelou's America: Today's Daily Read by Roses and Summer Dreams is inspired by poet Maya Angelou's poem, America. Read the Daily Read which includes Angelou's iconic poem. If you're inspired, write your own poem about America. Learn more about Angelou's life and poetry, here from the Poetry Foundation.

LGBTQ-Ruling: The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled that you can't be fired for being gay or transgender. In the most impactful ruling for LGBTQ rights since same-sex marriage became a constitutional right in 2015, the court ruled 6-3 that workplace protections against sex discrimination also protect against bias toward sexual orientation and gender identity. Your thoughts?

Police: Would your community or school be safer or less safe if there were fewer police officers and that funding was diverted to more social services? Since George Floyd's death under the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis on May 25, this is the debate around the nation including at Monday's Burlington city council (virtual, 7 pm) meeting (VTDigger: Will Burlington slash its police budget?). What do you think?

Pledge: 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?

Restrictions: What are you surprised that you miss during the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic?

Room: You've won a contest to redesign your room just the way you want it. No limits. What do you do?

Antonio Gwynn: Antonio Gwynn Jr., 18, a high school senior, had marched for hours in downtown Buffalo to protest the killing of George Floyd. Early the next morning, he was shocked to learn the peaceful streets had turned violent after he left, with windows smashed and protesters reporting they'd been hit by police rubber bullets. “I was sad to watch all of that. There was a huge mess downtown,” said Gwynn. “I thought, ‘I should go out there and clean it all up.’" And so he did, with a broom and dustpan. Read Antonio's story in the Washington Post (A teen worked alone to clean Buffalo streets after unrest). Inspired? Respond with an open letter to Antonio.
WEEK 6: June 22
Dusk: "It was just at dusk when ..." Begin with or include this phrase in a story or poem.

Elves: 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.
WEEK 7: June 29
Black Lives Matter: Keeping up the momentum toward real change is the next challenge. Use the power of your words to push forward. [Challenge inspired by activist_fieldhockey]

Fable: 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

Outside: Take a walk. Take photos. Share them with YWP! [Challenge inspired by Crescent_Moon]

Genie: Write a poem or story about someone who discovers a genie who grants them three wishes. Take the story wherever you like, but here are some questions to get you started: How and where do they find the genie? What are the three wishes? Are there any surprising consequences from the wishes? [Challenge by LadyMidnight]
WEEK 8: July 6
Independence Day: Consider this: "Black Lives Matter is America’s ray of light this Independence Day," an editorial in the Washington Post to mark July 4, 2020. Read it here. What do you think?

Dialogue-Exercise: 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.

Details: Grab your camera and get very close to your subject – see laurenm's photos, including raindrops on a stem. Experiment! Try different lighting, different angles for your photo creations and post them here!

Open: Begin or end a story or poem with the phrase, "Open your eyes ..."
WEEK 9: July 13
Waterfall: 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 imagine you would feel or see?

Photo Perspective: 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!

Huh: 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.
WEEK 10: July 20
Drive-in: 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.

Shadows: 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.

World: Use the phrase on this marquee, "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.
WEEK 11: July 27
I am ...: Who are you? Not who people might see, but who you are at your core. Write a poem, story, essay, list about you. Need some inspiration? Read sarcasimish's poem, I am, (YWP's Daily Read, July 25).

Scorcher: 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.

Yellow: 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.