There are a lot of ways to be a writer. You can write poetry or fiction, you can write letters and essays. You can write novels or newspaper articles. You can write songs or perform standup comedy. And even within all those writing genres, there are different ways to go about it: You can tour the country performing your poems, or publish short stories while being personally reclusive. You can self -publish or subject yourself to the caprices of publishers. All of these are legitimate paths, and they all necessitate their own skill-sets. Playing with a different type of writer’s tools can be both frustrating and enlightening.
This, then, is The Gauntlet: A yearlong writing challenge wherein writers are encouraged to experiment with multiple disciplines, earning points with each task completed. And it’s not just the act of writing … you can gain points from publishing and performing, making this a sort of literary triathlon of the three pillars of a modern writer’s career. It’s a challenge not just for your writing skills, but also your bravery, ingenuity and adaptability. Are you up to the challenge?
Here’s how it works: Below is a list of literary tasks. You receive points for each task completed. When you’ve completed a task, post about it in the comments here or on the Facebook group that’s been created for the challenge. We’re working on the honor system … you don’t HAVE to offer proof of what you’ve done, but it’s more fun for everyone if you do, and frankly, we’ll know if you’re lying. However, if you share the work, either by pasting in comments, providing a link, a video or somesuch, you’ll be awarded 5 extra points per category. You can only get points for each category once.
We’ll tally points as we go and at the each of month, we’ll post a leaderboard of the Top 10 (including the inevitable ties.) The contest begins at the stroke of midnight January 1, 2018, and ends at the stroke of midnight December 31, 2018. One year to push yourself in just about as many directions a writer can.
Are you up to face The Gauntlet?
Write a Letter: This can be a personal or open letter. It must be at least 500 words. (5 points)
Write a Poem: (10 points)
Publish a Poem: Does not have to be the same poem, and can have been previously written. (10 points)
Read a Poem at an Open Mic or Slam: Does not have to be the same poem, and can have been previously written. (10 points)
Write a Short Story: (10 points)
Publish a Short Story: Does not have to be the same story, and can have been previously written. (15 points)
Write and Perform a Routine for a Comedy Open Mic: 5 minutes minimum. (15 points)
Write and Publish an Essay: Any subject (15 points)
Write and Publish a Review: Any subject (15 points)
Write and Publish an Article: Any subject, but must have at least one source that is not you. (20 points)
Write a Comic Book Script: (15 points)
Create and Publish a Comic Book: Collaboration with artists allowed (20 points)
Write a Stage- or Screenplay: Minimum one act (15 points)
Produce a Stage- or Screenplay: Can be performed by actors, author does not need to appear and need-not direct, can be live or on video, television or radio (20 points)
Write or Have Writing Adopted for Song: Collaboration allowed, OK to have musician adapt poem or other writing for song. Must be performed and recorded. (20 points)
Finish a Draft of a Novel: Minimum 17,500 words. Can have been previously begun (35 points)
Publish a Novel: Can have been previously written (50 points)
And there we have it. The challenge begins on New Year’s Day, and continues the entire course of the year. No one can do everything, of course, but it’s always good to try something new, and who knows what you’ll discover along the way?
I’m so glad not all challenges are required; I’d rather eat live crickets than attempt stand-up comedy. Other than that, you’re on!
Yeah, I’d be amazed if anyone accomplishes everything, but it’s all about pushing your boundaries!
I haven’t had my work published in anything in over a decade. That will be my biggest challenge. I also want to blog more.
Blogging is a good tool for some of this!
I’m interested in joining in on the challenge – it’s just not clear to me how and where I post.
Hi Suzi. It’s pretty easy … you can post either in the comments on this post, or in the Facebook group (which I just added you to.)
Hi! I have a question: Say we start a task in 2017, but it is completed in 2018. Would it still count? Say I submit some poems out to try to get them published, but they’re accepted in 2018. Would that count, or only if I send them out + am published in 2018? Also, I just realized that I assumed that “Publish a poem” meant, having someone else publish it. Is that the intended meaning? Or would posting it on your personal blog count?
I love this challenge so much that I wanna get it right, even though at the end of the day, doing the work is what’s most important to me.
Thanks for the motivation!
Totally still counts, on all fronts.
We’re accepting self-published work as counting, even online, but with the understanding that a lot of authors have different definitions of “published” for themselves. We figure a poet who would never allow their work to be self-published under normal circumstances wouldn’t do so here, either.
I think in general WE’RE taking the most liberal definitions of everything, while encouraging participants to push themselves for the hardest roads, if that makes sense.
Makes perfect sense! I am so excited about this. Thank you thank you thank you 😀
What about non-fiction writing? I’m hoping to submit the first draft of my book to a publisher early in 2018, but it’s academic writing about my research work rather than a novel.
Tell you what, you finish at least 17,500 words of a draft, and we’ll count it in lieu of a novel. Fair?
I am so down for this.