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30 Day Writing Challenge:The Complete Beginner’s Guide

My writing life was a dream I had that never seemed to come true.

It was all filled with a mirage.

The lofty projections I had in every new year resolution.

Still, the goals crumbled from inaction.

Doing a personal 30 day writing challenge was the turning point for me.

I built a writing routine after years of struggling.

Now, I can focus on improving my craft and actionable tips to apply to my writing.

This is what happens when you build a routine.

Maybe you are like me and you want to nail in your writing goals with a thirty day writing challenge.

In this blog post we would look at:

  • What is a 30-day Writing Challenge?
  • Why you should do a thirty day challenge?
  • Types of thirty day challenges
  • How to do a thirty day challenge( with tips for starting and finishing)

Let’s get started.

What is a thirty day Writing Challenge?

A 30-day writing challenge is a type of writing challenge that spans over thirty days.

Consistent writing in thirty days.

Keep in mind that some 30 day writing challenge would involve writing a specific 

  • Number of works (poetry, short stories, etc)
  • Length of work(word count, lines for Poetry)

Why do a 30 day Writing Challenge?

There are many reasons why you should be doing a thirty day challenge

1.Build a writing habit

Research has shown that it takes 18-254 days to build a habit.

This depends on the complexity of the task to the person.

Simple tasks like drinking water at a certain time of the day take less time compared to going to the gym daily.

When getting started as a writer a thirty-day challenge can help you write over a consistent amount of time to allow the task to get ingrained into you.

If your goal is to build a writing habit your focus is different.

What do I mean?

I said earlier that a Writing habit is doing a task regularly.

It could be every day, every week days, etc.

For the purpose of the thirty days challenge, I would take the writing habit as daily Writing.

Your main goal is to show up every day to write not fretting too much about the quality/quantity of work.

Yeah, you have goals, word count targets, and other writing parameters but writing every day is more important than meeting a word count.

Here’s what I mean.

Let’s say your goal in doing a NaNoWriMo challenge is to write a 50000 words novel.

You can reach this target in different ways.

First, you can decide to do long writing sprints to come up with ten thousand words.

With this approach, you would reach your goal with five writing sprints.

But if your goal is to build a habit.

You will be obsessed with writing every single day of the challenge rather than meeting the word count.

What is a writing habit?

A writing habit is writing on a regular or consistent basis.

It is when showing up to write becomes automatic.

It gives you the time to work on tasks that are not automatic like practicing writing tips on craft.

Build your willpower

One of the most common causes of writer’s block is procrastination.

Mr procrastination is the child of low will power.

If you succeed in the challenge emphasis on “If”, you build that willpower that allows you to show up and chase your goals.

This is closely related to habits and routines.

In the grand scheme of things they all connect to help you reach your writing goals.

Produce more works

If you have plans of writing a collection of short stories, full-length poetry books, novels, or a nonfiction piece.

Doing a challenge would help you get the words down so you can focus on rewriting your vomit draft.

For me, writing is more prone to writer’s block compared to rewriting.

In writing, you are working with a scary yet powerful blank page or screen.

While in rewriting you already have something concrete you are working on.

Let me know which ( Writing vs Rewriting ) is more difficult for you and often leads to procrastinating.

If you do a storyaday challenge.

The challenge requires you to write a short story every day for thirty days.

That is about three collections of short stories.

Keep in mind that is if you are using  12 short stories per collection.

Improve craft

While writing a lot over 30 days whether it’s creative writing or nonfiction.

You become better while testing and trying out new ideas.

When Ray Bradbury was asked for his writing advice for young writers he advised them to write a short story weekly as all can’t be that terrible.

In the worst-case scenario, you have a piece of work to edit to life.

It depends on the challenge you are doing. 

If you are doing a poetry 30 day challenge you would have written 30 poems.

Most of the poems will suck.

You can always edit them.

Types of 30 day Writing Challenge

There are many types of 30 day writing challenges depending on the type of work you are writing during the thirty days.

1.Journal Writing Challenge

Journalling is an interactive recording of affairs causing you to reflect and review them.

When the term journalling is used it is often for spiritual/stoic journal.

But that’s just one of the numerous types of journals out there.

I think it’s because a stoic/spiritual journal is one that’s common to many persons.

Compared to a writing journal that only writers keep.

There are also other specific journals like

  • Reading Journal

To track your Reading goals and adventures. Using this journal you can also record your action plan from a book you have read.

  • Writing Journal(Notebook)

Those ideas that come and go can be trapped in this journal.

It is meant to help you grow your writing skills.

Things you can record are :

  • Ideas
  • Snippets of dialogues
  • Brain dump 
  • Sketches of story

It is not written with the intent of publication.

Depending on the specific skills and area of your life you which to grow in you can have a journal to record your progress as well as frustrations, mistakes and lessons learnt.

Poetry Writing Challenge

There are many online 30 day poetry challenge.

The most popular is the national poetry writing month in April.

There is also another one in October called octopowrimo. 

They all work on the same rule. You write a poem daily for thirty days.

The websites post prompts to help you write.

Note: you don’t have to use the Prompts.

Your poem is not restricted to any length. 

You can write short poems and gigantic poems.

Short story Writing Challenge

In this challenge, you write a complete short story in a day.

From planning to putting out the first draft.

Storyaday challenge is a popular writing challenge where you write thirty short stories in a month.

If you fail to write a short story for whatever reason.

You don’t carry the incomplete short story to the next day.

Ok. 

I know I mentioned writing challenges hosted online.

Nothing stops you from doing a personal 30 day challenge. 

Novel Writing Challenge

The most popular example of the 30 day novel writing challenge is the NaNoWriMo challenge.

It is held in November every year.

Where you set out to write 50,000 words in thirty days.

You can set your personal goal.

You don’t have to wait for Nanowrimo in November.

Novella Writing Challenge

I made this one up but it can be done.

Not everyone can write a novel in thirty days.

How about a novel instead.

Instead of 50,000 words, we write 15,000-30,000 words.

Which is achievable for most people.

Nonfiction Writing Challenge

There are various types of nonfiction challenge.

Using the types of nonfiction we can further break the nonfiction writing challenge into:

1.Memoir

This is a piece of work that tells the story of one’s life around a particular theme.

It isn’t the recording of one’s entire life like the autobiography.

2.Self help books

In self-help books, you can write a business book, a motivational book,

etc.

We have looked at the types of 30-day writing challenge let’s look at how you can do one.

How to do a thirty-day writing challenge?

In November 2020 while the NaNoWriMo buzz was going on I decided to do a writing challenge instead of word count.

I chose to build a writing habit.

I missed some days but I learnt a lot.

All the lessons I will share with you.

1.Be clear

Before doing this writing challenge I have had a series of writing challenges I wanted to do.

I never started some.

For others, I started but never completed it.

This might sound silly but in some of the writing challenges, I forgot that I decided to do a writing challenge until the end of the month.

What was the magic approach?

You want to be clear and what you are writing. 

The type of genre of writing.

This doesn’t mean you can’t do a thirty-day creative writing challenge.

Of course, you can but in that case, it would be good if you know what you are doing.

2.Know your why 

Earlier on I talked about the various reasons for doing this challenge.

Find out yours. Your goals.

This would influence how you plan out your challenge.

3.Plan and Prepare

Nothing scares me most as wondering what to write as the writing time draws near.

You want to save your brain the labor of thinking of what to write so you can sit and write.

Having a plan helps you to always move on even if the Muse doesn’t show up.

If inspiration comes overflowing you can go the path.

But if nothing comes you are not stuck wondering what to do.

For the ideas, you can use writing prompt generators.

If you are doing an online challenge most of them would post prompts.

You don’t have to use it.

But you have an idea you can always fall back on when nothing comes.

If you are doing a journalling challenge there are journal prompts to get you writing.

4.Set a time

When it comes to doing a challenge it is not enough to say you are going to write.

Goals without a plan are just mere wishes.

When are you going to be writing most of the time?

But when is the best time to write.

This largely depends on you.

If you are a morning or evening person.

Enough of that.

Let’s be practical.

Do you have the time to show up consistently at that time you have set(chosen)?

The mistake I made when doing those challenges is I set my writing time as though I have just one life, The Writing Life.

The short and simple answer is….

The time you would always have to show up.

5.Prepare for Obstacles

When  I decided to do a writing challenge.

I envisage a smooth ride to that goal.

Well, that’s not often the case.

Do this.

List out the things, activities, people that might stop you from showing up.

The next step is to think of how you are going to deal with those obstacles.

” We all have a plan until we are punched in the face” – Mohammed Ali

With these obstacles prepared for you won’t be caught off guard as already know they would come.

6.Test challenge

A test challenge is a challenge you do to check, verify your assumptions, and adjust based on real-time feedback.

In the previous step, you have written out the obstacles and how you wish to deal with them.

I bet there are obstacles you didn’t write about.

Solutions that are not practical.

Why?

It’s simply because you don’t know of them.

With a testing challenge, you are revealed to those shortcomings.

Let’s say you want to do a 30-day writing challenge where you write for two hours every day.

I will put it in another way.

You want to write a novel in a month and you estimated you would have to write 2,000 words every day to reach this goal.

You estimated it would take you two hours every day to reach this word count.

The test challenge would be to write to that stipulated time and see if you reached the word count.

When you do a testing challenge it would help you see if you are correct with your estimation.

Whether you are underestimating or overestimating.

And you can adjust accordingly.

This saves you the resentment from not reaching your goals because you underestimated what was required.

For me when I saw I couldn’t reach my set goal instead of continuing I gave up.

Here’s why it’s magic.

Your brain knows it’s not the main challenge so if you flop.

It wouldn’t fill your heart with discouraging thoughts.

Simply because it knows that the goal of the test challenge is not to reach your writing goals but to evaluate them.

7.Have a backup (alternate plan)

For me, my set time for writing is 7 pm

but it’s not every day I would have that time to write.

With this understanding I set an alternate plan on what to do so I can reach my daily goal no matter what.

I write before the time.

Sometimes it’s in the morning or later into the night depending on what type of obstacle.

8.Measure progress.

Look our brain loves and craves instant gratification.

This part is a life-changing lesson for me.

To measure your progress you can use a habit tracker or word counter depending on your goal.

What’s a habit tracker?

A habit tracker is a digital or physical tool you use to log in your progress every day.

A word count tracker is what you use to keep track of your daily word count.

What I want you to do is to take an old calendar πŸ“… and draw out boxes for the month.

You can use the forest app or habitify habit tracker for digital options.

Post the calendar where you can see it without having to go through the stress of looking at it.

For each day you complete you mark a chain that will come together as you complete more days.

There two rules

  1. Don’t break the chain
  2. If you ever break the chain don’t break it twice.

For a word count tracker, you can use a spreadsheet to log in the word count daily.

You can also use a physical sheet to do it.

Ilys app is an online app that will give you statistics on word count and time spent.

Seeing the chains gives me an immediate reward to work cause I don’t want to break the chain.

When you start the first day you won’t see the magic until the third and fourth day when the chain starts to connect.

A simple way to trick your brain with instant gratification.

Conclusion

We have talked about a lot of thirty-day challenges.

I believe that action is easy if the steps are not so complex.

Now it’s your turn what is your reason for doing a 30day challenge.

Which of the tactics are you going to apply next.

Let me know in the comments section πŸ€”.

Thank you for reading this post.

Try these tips out and let me know how it went.

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By Onyemechi Nwakonam

Hi ,I write poetry and short prose. I am excited to help you organise your writing journey.

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