Oct 21

YWP Challenges January-June 2022


 Young Writers Project’s writing and visual art challenges are meant to inspire and spark creativity every week through the school year. The following challenges are for the January-June 2022 period. YWP writers, photographers, and artists can respond any time to any of the challenges, but to be considered for publication with our Vermont media partners, responses to the week’s featured prompts are due on Friday of that week. YWP publishes weekly in the Burlington Free Press and VTDigger.org, and monthly in the Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus. All writing, photos, and art posted on youngwritersproject.org this year – both responses to these challenges and general submissions on any topic – will also be considered for publication in our monthly digital magazine, The Voice, and our annual anthology, published every September, showcasing the best work of the previous school year. NOTE: You can also post about anything, anytime. Download the PDF version from attachment below. Special thanks for this year’s challenges: YWP summer 2021 intern Charlotte Dodds, YWP publications coordinator Anna Forsythe, and our many YWP writers and artists who contributed ideas, themes, and inspiration. 
NEW TO YWP? To respond to challenges, click on the title of the challenge. The challenge 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; and SAVE. You can also post images, add audio and video by going to ADD MEDIA on your blog.General submissions: To post about anything anytime, log in to your YWP account and Create a Blog Post. Remember to give each post a title, category (poem, nonfiction, visual/photos/art, etc.), and SAVE.



WEEK 38 (May 29-June 3)
Lottery: Come on, we’ve all had our daydreams … What would you do if you won a million dollars?
I will ...: This summer, I will … Finish the sentence. And enjoy! You’ve earned it!


WEEK 17 (Jan. 2-7)
Labyrinth: Write a story about a character trapped in a confusing labyrinth. Is there a minotaur in the labyrinth too, or is your character alone? How will they escape?

Purple: Take photos of anything purple. Celebrate this royal color!
Sentence: Create the first sentence to a story and post it as a response to this challenge. Others can look through the responses and use the sentences for inspiration in their own stories.

WEEK 18 (Jan. 9-14)
Someone: “She dreamed of someone who couldn’t quite be placed …” Begin or end a story or poem with this phrase. 
Hardship: Write a short personal statement about a hardship you’ve faced and managed to overcome, and how the experience has made you stronger. For writers with college in mind, you might use this as a way to brainstorm an admissions essay down the line.

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.

WEEK 19 (Jan. 16-21)

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

Follow: You and a friend are walking along the sidewalk, chatting together, when a woman nudges you, hands you a scrap of paper, and begins walking away. “Follow me,” the paper says. Do you follow and what happens? 
Mirror: Your reflection comes alive and takes on a life of its own, living from mirror to mirror – a reflection of you, but not really you. How do you interact with this reflection? How do you explain what is happening – to yourself and others?

WEEK 20 (Jan. 23-28)                      
Spirit: Create a spirit that watches over you and acts as your personal guardian. What form does your spirit take? Does it ever speak? Does it fly?
Sixth: If you could add a “sixth sense” to the list of five that humans possess, what would it be, and why? In what ways would it help you in daily life? 
Words/Art: Choose one of your poems, or a favorite line, and write it on a piece of paper. Draw/paint/create a collage around your poetry with images that fit the words. Take a photo of the finished piece and post it.

WEEK 21 (Jan. 30-Feb. 4)
Favorite: Begin or end a story with these sentences or variations of your own: “He was always my favorite, out of all of them – it was barely a competition. He knew it, too.”
Memoir: Think about a memorable event from your childhood – a loss or win, a move, a difficult learning experience – whatever it is, write about it with as much detail and heart as you can bring to it.
Mythology: Imagine you are a figure in Greek mythology – what is your story? Who are your parents, what role do you play?

WEEK 22 (Feb. 6-11)
Decade: Every 10 years, you have the opportunity to go back in time and have a conversation with your past self. This conversation can change the future. Write about it.

Heart: Write your own version of Emily Dickinson’s “Heart, we will forget him!” See where your mind (and heart) take you!
Abecedarian: Try your hand at an abecedarian poem. The abecedarian is an acrostic that spells out the alphabet, either word by word or line by line. Abecedarian poems generally contain 26 lines, one for each letter of the alphabet, and every line begins with a word that starts with the line’s corresponding letter (Example: The first line could start with the word “apples,” the second line with “bananas,” the third with “carrots,” and so on.)

WEEK 23 (Feb. 13-18)
Love Poem: Write a poem from any perspective – new love, lost love, imagined love... For inspiration, read "Goldfinch" by YWP’s liebeslied.
Writer: Who is your favorite poet or novelist? Write an ode to him/her/them, emulating them – in style or theme or outlook. Include the writer’s name.
Star: Out of the blue, you are cast as the lead in a movie – a big movie with a big-time director. They spotted you in the school play and … no, this is not a dream. What happens next?


WEEK 24 (Feb. 20-25)
Comfort: Some of us look for comfort in books, or fresh air, or hugs, or something else entirely. Where do you find comfort? Write about it.
Fairytales: Write your own flash fiction fairytale. It can be an epic adventure, or more of a classic fairytale. Include a conflict and resolution. Try to keep it under 1,000 words.

Review: Write a book review of the last good book you read. Post it here and on the YWP Book Club! And try not to give away any spoilers!

WEEK 25 (Feb. 27-March 4)

Metaphorical: Write a poem or narrative, using metaphors to compare and contrast ideas, bringing the reader deeper into your piece(s). (Example: like the tears that once wove down my striving neck, gushing around my bare feet, the waterfall stripped me of all feeling but sorrow.) Merriam-Webster: “A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them (as in drowning in money).” 
Library: Think of your ideal library. What type of books can you find there – all history books, or poetry anthologies, or science fiction novels? Or maybe a mix of everything? Where is it located? Does it have comfy chairs and secret reading nooks? Describe it in words or draw it – and make it yours!
Monster. You, a shy young monster under the bed, are terrified of the child living above you. Write the story in prose or poetry. Draw a cartoon if you like.

WEEK 26 (March 6-11)
Escape: Where – in all of the world – would you go and what would you do if you just wanted to escape for awhile? Is there a place that captures your imagination? What draws you to it? Write about it, sketch it, paint it!
Script: Try your hand at script writing. Write a scene with about 30 lines of dialogue between at least two characters. Maybe the characters are ghosts, or tulips, or the forgotten coats on a coat rack – anything goes!
Perspective: Write a poem as if you are the main character from a favorite book. Veer off from the story and create your own tale. What are you thinking about? What are you trying to do? Include the name of the book that inspired you.

WEEK 27 (March 13-18)
Sap: If you live in rural New England, are you seeing evidence of "sugaring" season? Take photos of silver sap buckets, taps on maples, and sugar on snow to show YWP friends who don't experience this sweet annual ritual in their home states.  

Friendship: Poet Emily Dickinson asks, “Are friends delight or pain?” What do you think? Write a response to her question. 

WEEK 28 (March 20-25)
Eventually: Begin or end a story with this line: “Eventually the song had to end.”

Island: Make your own island – either in words or images. What ocean is it in? Is it far from land, or just off the coast? What plants grow there? Is it inhabited? What animals live there? 

 WEEK 29 (March 27-April 1)
Epic: Write your own epic poem, similar in style to The Odyssey by Homer (translated by Emily Wilson) or Beowulf (translated by Seamus Heaney). It doesn’t need to be super long, but make sure your poem’s plot includes a conflict, climax, and resolution.
Mess: Begin or end a tale with the phrase, “and standing there in the middle of all that mess was my dear, old friend, with the most peculiar look on her face.”

WEEK 30 (April 3-8)
Rain & Shine: Create the backstory of how two opposites meet and become friends. They might be Rain (a moody, brooding character) and Shine (a sunny, optimistic type) – or two characters of your own invention.

Five: Use all five of the following words in a poem or story: Metamorphosis. Spoon. Civilian. Cosmos. Milk.

WEEK 31 (April 10-15)
Mountain: Imagine you are a mountain. Are you a giant, like Denali, or a smaller mountain, like Mt. Philo? Are there many hikers on your trails, or are you an unexplored mountain? Write about your life as a mountain. 
Time: Tell a story that includes the phrase, "We had the time of our lives."

WEEK 32 (April 17-22)
Hat: Write something that includes the following phrase or your version of this idea: “Holding onto my hat as firmly as I could with one free hand, I stepped over the boundary and seemingly glided into the open air.” (It can be placed anywhere in the piece). 
Color: Create a new color. Describe it in words or visual art. Does it have a fantastic name or one that perfectly describes it? 

WEEK 33 (April 24-29)
Hammock: Write a descriptive poem all about your favorite place to park yourself. Is it in a hammock? In an armchair by the fireplace? At your desk? Or under a tree? We’d love to hear about it!

Overcome: Begin a poem or short story with the line “As the moon and stars swirled around me overhead, I was overcome by a sense of …” 

WEEK 34 (May 1-6)

Goldfish: Write a short story from the perspective of a forgetful goldfish. What is the internal conversation of the goldfish as it swims round and round and can’t quite remember what just happened or where it’s headed?

Cover: Draw/paint/create the book cover for your first novel.

WEEK 35 (May 8-13)
Happiness is …: In words or images, tell us what makes you happy.

Second: Write something that includes this phrase or an approximation of it: “the room was musty, and the feeling of constantly being awarded second place infiltrated my nostrils.” (It can be placed anywhere in the piece). 

WEEK 36 (May 15-20)
Car: Write a poem or story that includes this line or your own variation: “You pulled up in your old, green car and gave me that same look you used to give me so many years ago.”

Picture: Find an old picture of yourself. Who is with you? Your parents, siblings, or friends? When was the picture taken, and where? Describe it and write about what it reminds you of.

WEEK 37 (May 22-27)
Go: If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
Rock Art: Find some rocks, and make some art with them! This could be a statue, a rock cairn, or you could paint on the rocks - anything!
Pet Peeves: What are your pet peeves? Write a haiku for each one you can think of. (Haiku is a form of poetry that originated in Japan and follows the format of 5 syllables in the first line of the poem, 7 syllables in the second line, and 5 syllables in the third and final line of the poem.) 

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