Thursday, November 21, 2013

Writing Challenges

By Kenneth A O'Shaughnessy

One way to focus on your writing practice is to participate in a challenge. Most are familiar with NaNoWriMo, in which the participants try to write 50,000 words (the length of a short novel) during the month of November. But some write to write something shorter - like poetry. What challenges are out there for them?

For those looking to do something short and sweet, there's NaHaiWriMo, a month with daily challenges in writing haiku. As in all of these challenges, you are provided with a topic each day, and you try to write your best haiku about that topic.

National Poetry Month is April, and Poets & Writers puts out a challenge for that month. Writer's Digest is conducting one in November for those who would rather write poetry than a novel. And if you're a Tumblr user, you can find plenty of inspiration here:

I'm currently participating in a challenge specifically tied to Advent, through The Preacher's Institute. This is actually a blogging challenge, but I am a poet, so that's what I am writing. Each day we receive a topic from the funny to the sublime, and blog about that topic. Mine are posted here:

Here's a sample:

Vanity is so common nowadays
That we name furniture after it.
"Get me a piece of chocolate cake
Out of the gluttony, please"
"Lets watch a movie on the lust"
"I'll be there right after I update
My status on Pridebook"
We'd feel funny saying these,
True though they may be.
But we're comfy at the vanity.

Many think one has to think
They are beautiful to be vain.
But we keep our make-up
In the vanity - vanity and lies.
Vanity is a socially-networked
Hypocrisy, kind of like blogging:
Done at home while not-looking
In the mirror, seeing only
What we're putting on, and
Not what is really behind it all.

Poetry blogging may be the
Ultimate exercise in vanity:
A "Look at me!" that nobody
Looks at, but, hey, I'm a poet!
Like tongues, no one gets it,
And there's no interpreter.
If I wanted to say something
Other than "Look at me!"
I'd have written an essay,
Or gone to the closet to pray.

Kenneth A O'Shaughnessy is a freelance writer and poet living in the upstate of South Carolina with his wife and four children. To find his daily poetry entries, log onto: 

or find him on Amazon here:

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