Take on a timed challenge

Take on a timed challenge

You have a dream. An idea. A creation that begs to be brought into the world. It’s been there in your head for weeks, months, years. You want to try, but don’t know how to start.

How do you turn this yearning into a project? As you may know, I’ve written a novel. Right now, I’m in the throes of editing. This post covers a technique I’ve found very successful for myself. I hope it works for you too.

I’d like to introduce to the concept of timed challenges. If you work well to deadlines, and can be disciplined, a timed challenge will be perfect for you. You’ll be amazed and proud of what you can achieve if you dedicate to it.

First work out what you want to do: write a novel/poem/screenplay, record music, make a photography/graphic design/other art portfolio – it’s up to you.

Start Googling. There are plenty of these challenges out there for all sorts of creative endeavours.

Once you’ve chosen your challenge, consider what you need to do to achieve it. Talk to friends and family, tell them what you are doing and that you will be busy creating so might not be around as much. Make a plan for when you will work on your project. Commit to your project.

Here are a few suggestions to get you inspired.

Writing challenges

NaNoWriMo – November is National Novel Writing Month. Originally a US-based event, NaNoWriMo is now a world-wide phenomenon. The challenge is to write a novel of 50,000 words in one month. It’s fun and exciting, and completely achievable. “Winners” get access to discounts on writing tools and other novel-related goodies – as well as a nice banner to use on social media. I participated for the first time in 2016 and was super proud to complete my novel in the 30 days.

Camp NaNoWriMo – Runs in April and July. Not an actual camp! Much like NaNoWriMo, but instead you set your own goals. You can choose a word count, or go by pages or time. I use Camp NaNoWriMo to kick my editing into gear. Last year I did two Camps of 15 mins a day editing. This year, I’m doing 30 mins. You can opt to work alone, or be part of a cabin. Cabins are online writing groups to give you inspiration and put you in touch with like-minded writers.

31 Plays in 31 Days – If you are theatrically-minded, August is your month. The challenge is to write a play a day, with plays needing to be a minimum of one page. The site offers writing prompts and encouragement, so all you aspiring playwrights should give it a go!

Music challenges

Album a day – I’m not sure if this one is still active, but the concept is to write and record an album’s worth of songs in a single contiguous 24-hour period. No breaks! It needs to be a minimum of 20 minutes long, or 30 songs. Only work on one song at a time, and no idea prep allowed. Everything must be created from scratch on the day.

50 songs in 90 days: This one gives you a bit more time!  It operates between 4 July and 1 October every year.  Essentially you will create a song every two days. The site provides challenges and inspiration for your creative muse.

Visual art challenges

365 Project – Take a photo every day for a year, and document your life and improve your photography skills. The site is an archive of amazing photographic journeys that will inspire and motivate you. If you’d rather not upload your work to the site, create your album privately on another platform.

Animation month – Again, I don’t know if this is still happening, but if so, January is your month. This is a good one for comic artists, or those who want to play with animation. The challenge is to make 31 animations, but they don’t have to be done once a day. Go wild, just get your 31 animations done in January.

One Game a Month – For budding game developers or those who want to push themselves, the site provides monthly themes for your creations. The challenge runs indefinitely so you can dip in and out, or stick to it forever!


These are a just a few, but there are many more. Check out this helpful Wikipedia list of timed artistic challenges. If you know of others, leave me a comment!

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