Sunday Writing Challenge

Last week’s challenge was to write a 500 word (or more, you overachievers) piece inspired by one of Kortney Thoma‘s fantastic photographs. Sunday’s come around again and now it’s time to own up to how you did.

Personal confession time: I completed the challenge, though later rather than sooner. I did not write every day, which a personal goal and something I struggle to find time with. Or rather, I should clarify, I didn’t write every day on my own work. But one foot in front of the other, right?


Leave your updates in the comments below. I look forward to passing out many gold stars!


This week: TWIST! There are two challenges this week.


1. Two weeks ago, our 500-words-a-day goal was not the most successful. So we’ll dial it back a bit. We’re back to daily writing, but the minimum word count is 350. Easy, right? Right.

2. For those of you who wrote something this week, either inspired by the photograph or your own writing, I challenge you to share it next week.  There’s a few bonus points in this for you.

That’s it! You have until 10 p.m. next Sunday night to check in and tell us how you did.

New friends and old friends, don’t forget that our writers group is open 24/7 for commiseration and support, as well as helpful links, contest submission information, and tips.

Need a little inspiration? Try this writing exercise:

The T.S. Eliot/John Gardner Killer Exercise: This exercise is quite possibly the most difficult, demanding and important exercise a writer can ever do. The poet and critic, T. S. Eliot, coined the phrase “objective correlative” to designate what he believed was the most important element in writing: Rendering the description of an object so that the emotional state of the character from whose point of view we receive the description is revealed WITHOUT ever telling the reader what that emotional state is or what has motivated it.

The late John Gardner, recognized in his lifetime as the leading creative writing teacher in the United States, developed the following exercise for students:

    A middle-age man is waiting at a bus stop. He has just learned that his son has died violently. Describe the setting from the man’s point of view WITHOUT telling your reader what has happened. How will the street look to this man? What are the sounds? Odors? Colors? That this man will notice? What will his clothes feel like? Write a 250 word description. (via

By [E] Slay Belle

Slay Belle is an editor and the new writer mentor here at Persephone Magazine, where she writes about pop culture, Buffy, and her extreme love of Lifetime movies. She is also the editor of You can follow her on Twitter, @SlayBelle or email her at

She is awfully fond of unicorns and zombies, and will usually respond to any conversational volley that includes those topics.

35 replies on “Sunday Writing Challenge”

I’ve been too sick to participate in the writing challenges of late, but I am trying my hand this week at the 350-a-day deal. Today, I wrote my PMag post which will go up Wednesday, and this week is light on freelance assignments, so I am going to try my my hand at another genre. I probably won’t share my attempt with many people, but it could be fun, right?

I worked on the first draft of my graphic novel, which is currently going in short fiction form. I did NOT do 500 words a day, but I did get a little accomplished each day, so I’m not going to beat myself up too much. I also came up with a new screenplay idea, so I started to outline that over the weekend. It’s going to be a super fun, brain-lite story, so it’ll be something I can purge a lot of silliness into.

I really liked the 100 short sentences about one character exercise. The bulk of my graphic novel concentrates on one character, and I learned a lot of fun things about her doing that challenge! 100 things about something leaves it good and open to even the most arbitrary of characteristics, so I really enjoyed it.

350 words per day. This I can do. I’m loving reading what everyone posted as well!!!

Does it matter what medium we share it on? I’d consider doing so on tumblr. It’s my first pass at fiction writing and I had a frustrating moment: I decided how I’d end it… then forgot it. So my last 200 words (I tried to stay really close to the 500 words as an added bonus) were frustrated attempts to recall (I never did).

But yay! I did it. And I can tots do 350 words a day. Tots.

empty- almost deserted looking- old fashioned train car.

I didn’t mean to go.

I spent all of that night thinking of what would happen if I left. Would the cat get fed? Who would make sure my nephew was getting to school on time when my brother was too hung over to? What about grandpa’s heart condition?

Around two, I slipped out from beside Becky and headed towards the den. I hesitated at the door, hearing her turn over and sigh. I would miss her if I left, I thought. Then I remembered the slow burning of stomach acid when I saw her with him, and I turned away.

Some things without warning are too hard to live with, even when they are forgiven.

In the den, I wrote a note and stuck it to her laptop. I didn’t give her a reason, just a plea to feed the cat until I could come and get him again.

My laptop fit securely into my bag, and my summer clothes nearly overfilled my duffle. The closet door squeaks too loud to get the sweaters of the season out, so I thanked my luck that the flannel shirts were still in storage.

Jenkins rubbed against my legs as I fitted my feet into my boots, waiting for a scratch that I couldn’t bring myself to give.

The wind outside dried my cat rendered crying as I shuffled to the car.

The train from Pittsburgh to DC leaves at 4:50 am. I pulled in at 4:30 am and nearly missed boarding. The drowsy passengers ahead of me are what likely gave me the time to get to the platform. Even the most asshole of conductors couldn’t argue with 3 half asleep children tagging along behind their mother, though she got a dirty look as she put out her cigarette on the edge of the platform. The more things change. . .

After my ticket was taken, I went to the observation car. The woman next to me was rude, and it had taken much in the way of tooth grinding to even make it that long with out asking her which bothered her the most, my being fat, a dyke, or Hispanic?

They always think I’m fresh from the border, the older types, but I don’t even speak Spanish. My mother forbid it, fearing we’d be mistaken for a couple of border crossers if we visited her family out west. Not that we ever did- she was too paranoid for that- but her constant hassling meant I took French in high school instead.

Parlez vous francais?

The seats stuck to my thighs and there was salt on the table. It would be hours before the snack bar would open, and still the granules were embedding themselves in my arm. Down the car, a conductor was counting out his tickets, making notations in his book and yawning. Head against the window, I slept.

When the train jerked to a stop, the impression of the window ledge was clearly visible along my right temple. Outside, nothing but the woods and rocks of. . . where were we by now?

“Panhandle of West Virginia.”

I stared at the person across from me.

“Jan, formerly known as James. Does that give you an answer? Staring is Rude you know.”

“I know. I just have no idea where you came from.”

“Martinsburg is where I got on. As to where I came from. . . well, that’s a bit of a longer story.”

Here’s how my week went:


then when the 750 words site got reviewed:


AND I’VE BEEN SUCCESSFUL. Granted, most of it has been process around my feelings about my RL and the issues I’m having there (homelessness! Disability! Having a best friend with the same disability but with an absurdly different-aka highly personally successful at life in general- outcome!) but! it’s sttill writing!

My personal challenge for the next week is to complete my 750w/d without stopping to go to my email, check P-mag comments, eat dinner, faff about with my mum’s cat, etc.

Will post writing challenge shortly.

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