December Writing Challenge: 2014 Edition

Writers never stop learning. No matter what stage you’ve reached in your writing career, it’s always possible to push yourself a little harder to improve some aspect of your craft or become a bit more dedicated in your habits. And any good writing challenge can be adapted to help you reach for the next level with your work.

Right now, I want you to forget previous writing challenges. I don’t care if you just finished NaNoWriMo or if the idea of writing 50,000 words in a month makes you physically ill. Today kicks off my December Writing Challenge, and the entire point of the challenge is for you to commit to yourself, and to your writing.

December can be a challenging month all on its own, filled with holiday gatherings, end-of-year work projects, bad weather across much of the northern hemisphere and a dozen other worries. And in the middle of all that, you can lose track of yourself and your goals. It’s easy to put things off, to make excuses. After all, the new year is just around the corner; you can easily pick up the pace once you turn your attention to resolutions.

But why wait? Is writing really something you’re willing to relegate to the New-Year’s-Resolution category? Or is it important? Is it a priority?

For those of you struggling to commit to your writing, I issue the following challenge: Write every day during the month of December. I’m not saying you need to write for a certain amount of time, or strive for a certain word count. But you need to actually sit down and string words together for some project of your own — no fair counting Christmas cards or a note to your kid’s teacher. It can be for fifteen minutes, though I’d encourage you to at least aim for half an hour. 30 minutes is approximate 2% of your entire day. Commit to taking that for yourself, and for your writing.

I do allow you two “excuse” days, if you absolutely need them. After all, there are holidays and holiday parties involved. So if you find you have to take a day or two off, go ahead, but really make an effort to write every single day if you can manage it.

What about the rest of you folks, the ones who’ve already committed to a daily writing practice? For you I have a slightly altered challenge: Start a secret project in December and work on it every day for at least a few minutes of your writing time. What sort of secret project? That’s up to you. But I encourage you to let your imagination run wild and experiment. Do you write fantasy novels? Try a mystery. Strictly a fiction writer? Give personal essays or poetry a try. Don’t tell anyone about it, don’t share it with your critique partner or your significant other. Just hide it away and work on it a bit each day. See what you come up with. Stretch your wings.

That’s my December challenge for you all. I’ll be posting some encouragement on here and on Twitter over the course of the month, so be sure and tune in. Happy December, and happy writing. Get to it.