Writing Tips From a Writer in the Trenches:

The NYC Midnight Writing Challenges: Why I Enter When I Have No Expectation Of Winning.

For this writer, it’s all about the challenge of writing to prompts within a time limit, and the joy of creating new stories I’d never otherwise have written.

Photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash

A group of my writing friends have been entering these contests for the past few years. So far, I’ve participated both in the short story challenge and flash challenge twice each.

Some may think we’re a little mad to subject ourselves to the stress of being given three randomly generated prompts: a genre, an object, and a setting, and then brainstorming, outlining, writing, and editing these stories in a very short period of time. In the case of the flash challenge, a 1000 word story in 48 hours, and for the short story challenge, 2500 words in 8 days.

Though, for me, it’s more like 44 hours or 7 and a half days of procrastination, and a few hours of everything else.

And based on some of the conversations we have in our Facebook support group, we probably are a little mad.

Photo by Camila Quintero Franco on Unsplash

What I love though, is the exhilaration of creating a story from nothing, a story that I would never, in a million years, have written on my own.

Some of my favourite prompts include: Suspense, fishing tackle shop, and a Pina Colada. How’s that for random? (I won first in my heat for that one, despite never having written a suspense story in my life.)

I’ve had suspense, thriller, historical fiction, fairy tale—twice, romantic comedy, horror, and just last weekend, a ghost story. Most of which are genres I’ve never even considered writing in.

Creating a story so far out of my wheelhouse stretches me as a writer. I’ve learned so much from these efforts, and because I’m rather a competitive sort, I never give up. I keep pushing until I have my story submitted, usually with only minutes to spare.

And I absolutely adore the sense of camaraderie I have with the other writers in our group as we whine, and moan, complain, and ultimately…create.

Photo by Júnior Ferreira on Unsplash

I’ve been fortunate enough to have moved on to the next round each time I’ve entered, though I’ve never moved on to the final. But I don’t mind at all, because even better, I’ve sold two of the stories I created in these contests.

So, if you’re like me and you love to push yourself, sign up for the next challenge.

Who knows what kind of magic you’ll create.