There are times when writers are challenged to write about a particular theme or place or even a word. You can find these in magazines’ monthly theme lists or on blogs that specialize in helping writers improve their craft. If you feel that your repertoire is lacking, you might think up a challenge for yourself.
When I started writing seriously, I was advised to submit to magazines to get my name “out there.” So while studying the craft and working on my novel, I wrote a few magazine stories that were full of action and plot and characterization.
Then I questioned myself: can I write description? I wasn’t sure.
That was the first time I challenged myself. I looked around my house to see what I could describe. I have a lovely opal pendant, and I decided to try to describe it. Here is the poem I wrote, which was published in Cricket Magazine:
Flecks of luminescence dive into a pool of molten glass--
A shimmering leaf transmuted into emerald;
A dying ember pressed into ruby;
Late afternoon cerulean captured in indigo;
A piece of everlasting sunlight held as a chip of gold.
They dance for a moment in iridescent splendor,
Then, like children playing “statues,”
In eternal tranquility,
Winking through opalescent crystal.
Another time I challenged myself to write a mystery for the 10 to 13 age group. “The Case of the Missing Mascot” is set in a middle school and pits a girl detective and a boy detective against each other in vying to solve the mystery. The school mascot is a ratty old grizzly bear, and it has gone missing. The story is filled with red herrings and a gaggle of suspicious characters. There is also a detective check-list for suspects, motive, and access. The story was published in CHARACTERS Magazine.
For writers who want to explore outside their comfort zone, self-challenge is a good way to discover a new interest. You might even find that you have a hidden talent you want to explore. On the other hand, it might confirm that you are already settled in the place you are meant to be.