Jun 05

Summer '21 Challenges

[Photo credit: Kevin Huang, YWP Media Library]
Make this summer memorable! Respond to YWP's Challenges every week, all summer long!

August 1-7

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?

Spoken WordTake 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 loud. Post your spoken word piece with audio on the site!

July 25-31

Love Poem
The topic is love. Write a poem from any perspective – new love, lost love, imagined love... For inspiration, read "Goldfinch" by liebeslied.

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]

Outside: Wherever you are, go outside and capture your surroundings in photos.
July 18-24

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.]

Someone: 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.

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

Guessing: 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]
July 11-17

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]

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

Personify: 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]
July 4-10

Words: 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]

Create Challenges: Back by popular demand! Write original, inspiring challenges for YWP! We're looking for your own creations – from your imagination, not from the internet or other sources.

"You're too fancy for me," she/he/they said ... Fill in the details of the before or after of this phrase.

Soar: 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?
June 27-July 3

: 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.

Lightning: The crash and flash of thunderstorms can be frightening and dangerous, poetic and inspiring. Describe the experience using as many senses as you can.

Watermelon: Write a poem that includes the following five words somewhere within it: Watermelon, skip, frog, pretend, feather.

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

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?
June 20-26

Begin with this phrase, "It all started when ..." Fiction or nonfiction, poetry or prose.

Relief: 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.

Adjective-free: 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, something your favorite authors know. Post your work!

Dad: Say Happy Father's Day in words, photos or art – a memory, an observation, a story.

Haiku: 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.

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!


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

Contrast: 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 your photos in a slideshow. Challenge created by Erin Bundock, YWP alumna.

Civility: 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.

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

June 6-12

Note: Start your story 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.

Repeat: Write one line of poetry. For the rest of the poem, write slight variations of that one line.
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Content, a beautiful place of sun and love
Alone, in a dark empty place of confusion
Quiet, the clouds part but still confused
Ordinary, returning to a normal place but still unsure where I am
Sorrow, how did I get here, the sun disappeared in an instant
Calm, in a place of peace with no explanation