Road Sign OppertunitiesWell, if the truth be told, some days getting out of bed in the morning is a challenge — but that’s not the sort of challenge I’m talking about.

It’s January, the month in which people challenge themselves to do new things, or to do old things in a better way. That is true for writers and illustrators as well as the general population. In the far-flung writer/illustrator community that I’m a part of, there are several ways to challenge ourselves this month.

Note: this list is by no means exhaustive. If I’ve missed something, it wasn’t intentional! If you’d like to add challenges that I’ve missed, feel free to do so in the comments. I’ll write another post mid-year to catch us up with what’s happening.

One writing challenge has already begun. It started yesterday, Sunday, January 5th, and runs for the next 21 days. It’s called Start the Year Off Write, and is the brainchild of Shannon Fimbel Abercrombie, a writer and member of 12×12 and the Children’s Book Hub Facebook Group. Shannon wants to encourage people to write something for each of the next 21 days, and the challenge will provide writing prompts to help you do just that. 21 writing prompts in 21 days. This challenge is FREE.

Guests will be writing posts each day with a prompt to start your imagination flowing. The first of these guest posts was up on the blog yesterday, as Julie Hedlund started off the challenge. Sign up to follow Shannon’s blog for all the daily prompts, from these talented kidlit people.

There are prizes, too (besides the satisfaction of writing every day for 21 days in a row). Here’s the list!

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Then, from January 12th to 18th (yes, that’s just a week from now) another member of 12×12 and the Hub FB Group, writer and illustrator Meg Miller, is hosting a picture book revision challenge called ReviMo (Revise More Picture Books Week). This challenge is FREE.

All week there will be blog posts and vlogs (video blog posts) to encourage you to revise, revise, revise! Those blogs and vlogs will be written/vlogified (?) by some great guests.

And yes, there are prizes for this challenge as well! Check out the prize list for more information.

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A challenge that is entering its THIRD year now, Julie Hedlund’s 12×12, in which writers are challenged to write one picture book draft per month, thus 12 drafts in 12 months, is beginning today. Registration is open from January 6th to February 28th.

There are three levels — Little GOLDen Book, Shel SILVERstein, and Margaret Wise BRONZE, each with different features. The links in the paragraph above will lead you to information about each level and the cost thereof. This is a very involved, year-long challenge, and so rightly has a fee attached to participation. Even for the GOLD level, however, the fee is less than you would pay to attend just one conference, and the benefits are many.

There are prizes for this challenge as well, donated by each month’s guest post author. We don’t know ahead of time what the prizes will be, but trust me, from previous years’ experience, I can say they will be excellent.

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Illustrators needn’t feel left out! What started as a month-long challenge last May, Doodle Day May, has become a daily occurrence, called Doodle Day, with different over-arching themes for each month. This challenge is the brainchild of Alison Kipnis Hertz (well, no, actually it was the brainchild of her daughter, see the link below).

You can find information about Doodle Day at Alison’s blog, On My Mind. And yep, this one’s free, too.

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Later in the Spring (Spring? What’s that? 😉 ) Becky Fyfe will be hosting a couple of challenges (yes, they’re free): the Chapter Book Challenge in March, and Blog Your Book in 30 Days in April. Click those links for details.

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Now, if I could just conquer that “getting out of bed in the morning” challenge… 😉

Happy New Year!

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