Feedback needed: combining the million word challenge and monthly challenges?

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Jedi Knight Muse

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So, March is approaching, which means that we'll be working on coming up with a prompt for March some time in the next few days for the monthly writing challenge. Something that was brought up in discussing it among the staff and I was whether or not people will participate in the monthly challenges while we have the million word challenge going on. Since the million word challenge is six months long, we do NOT want to just put the regular writing challenges on hold, especially because we do have members who aren't participating in the million word challenge. Also, it's not like those who are participating can't use anything they write for the challenges toward their word count, and we encourage people to do so.

We're nervous that because of the nature of the million word challenge, people might be less likely to participate in the monthly challenges, especially because the same problem is still presented even without the million challenge: a lot of people are so focused on their current projects that when a challenge prompt comes along, they may not submit because they don't have anything written that fits the prompt and they don't want to write anything new for it.

We want to encourage everyone to still participate in the regular monthly challenges! Especially because anything you write for the monthly challenges will help to boost your word count.
But also because if there are people who aren't participating in the million word challenge, they'll need some competition and hopefully that means people who ARE participating!

So what we're wondering is if maybe there's a way to combine the two challenges together somehow? Like...I don't really know how, honestly.  :-\ But that's where you guys come in. I mean, I guess they can kind of be combined automatically just because anything you write for the challenges from March to August will count towards your word count. But is there a way to combine the two together enough to make it so that the monthly challenges don't end up getting less entries because of the million word challenge? We would greatly appreciate whatever thoughts/ideas you have about this.
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Manu

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For me, personally, prompts that are more "open" work better. Like the natural elements one, or the current folklore one. Pictures or lists of words tend to not work for me. I can see myself submitting something if the prompt is not too restricting (the only reason I didn't submit something for the freewrite was that I was busy with spreadsheet building and beta-reading).

Test it how it works in March, and if there are very few submissions, you could go for a freewrite every other month? August could even be a "submit a scene you have written during the challenge" prompt.

Random idea, I'm torn about this myself: If there are very few submissions, you could allow people to count twice the words of their monthly submission towards their challenge goal (say I submit a 2,000 word story to a monthly challenge, I'd be allowed to count 4,000 towards my Worldsmyths million goal). I'd see how it goes first, though, and use this as a last resort.
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JayLee

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For me, personally, prompts that are more "open" work better
I agree with Manu. The only thing I can think of is trying to come up with prompts we feel would work for new material, or people's WIPs. Like write a scene focused on two character's arguing. Or something like that.

It might also be fun to try a challenge along the lines of "Take a Break. Challenge yourself to write a short scene which is completely different from your current WIP". Something like that.
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Rohierim

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I honestly think this whole thing is being "overthought". It's a million word challenge over six months. Unlike NanoWrimo where the whole premise is to write a complete novel from start to finish in 30 days, this is just word count. The name itself spells out that this is for wordcount only. Any extra writing you do will just add more to your count for the million words. Got stuck this week on where to go with your writing?

Write something for the Monthly Challenge.

Need some inspiration on how a scene/dialogue/description may go?

Read the submissions and see if anything works itself out for you?

Shoot, count the words you use to write your response to each and every submission. I believe this whole exercise was about getting more out of ourselves with writing by challenging ourselves to write toward a goal that the whole community comes together for. I don't think the million word challenge will affect the monthly submissions at all. It's not like we get dozens upon dozens of entries anyway. I see it as only helping if people enter this with the correct mindset.

Roh

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Jedi Knight Muse

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For me, personally, prompts that are more "open" work better. Like the natural elements one, or the current folklore one. Pictures or lists of words tend to not work for me. I can see myself submitting something if the prompt is not too restricting (the only reason I didn't submit something for the freewrite was that I was busy with spreadsheet building and beta-reading).

Test it how it works in March, and if there are very few submissions, you could go for a freewrite every other month? August could even be a "submit a scene you have written during the challenge" prompt.

Random idea, I'm torn about this myself: If there are very few submissions, you could allow people to count twice the words of their monthly submission towards their challenge goal (say I submit a 2,000 word story to a monthly challenge, I'd be allowed to count 4,000 towards my Worldsmyths million goal). I'd see how it goes first, though, and use this as a last resort.

If you have suggestions for any more "open" prompts, we're all ears, 'cause that's one of the biggest things we struggle with. Sometimes they're too "open," sometimes they're too specific.  :-\ I think out of the two years the site has been open, the one to get the most entries (which was maybe...eight?) was a fight/duel scene prompt. But it's hard to come up with a bunch of prompts like that that will work, and that everyone will be likely to submit to. We try to mix it up and not always use the same kinds of prompts each time, too.

Hm. A free write every other month might work. Or like....I don't know. We need to do something that will work for both those who are and aren't participating in the word count challenge each month and make it easy for everyone to submit something.

Hm. I'm not sure how I feel about allowing people to count twice the words for their monthly submissions towards their challenge goal...maybe, though? But yeah, definitely a last resort thing.

For me, personally, prompts that are more "open" work better
I agree with Manu. The only thing I can think of is trying to come up with prompts we feel would work for new material, or people's WIPs. Like write a scene focused on two character's arguing. Or something like that.

It might also be fun to try a challenge along the lines of "Take a Break. Challenge yourself to write a short scene which is completely different from your current WIP". Something like that.

Again, if you have ideas for more "open" prompts (besides those XD), we're all ears.

Hm. That could be an interesting challenge.
I honestly think this whole thing is being "overthought". It's a million word challenge over six months. Unlike NanoWrimo where the whole premise is to write a complete novel from start to finish in 30 days, this is just word count. The name itself spells out that this is for wordcount only. Any extra writing you do will just add more to your count for the million words. Got stuck this week on where to go with your writing?

Write something for the Monthly Challenge.

Need some inspiration on how a scene/dialogue/description may go?

Read the submissions and see if anything works itself out for you?

Shoot, count the words you use to write your response to each and every submission. I believe this whole exercise was about getting more out of ourselves with writing by challenging ourselves to write toward a goal that the whole community comes together for. I don't think the million word challenge will affect the monthly submissions at all. It's not like we get dozens upon dozens of entries anyway. I see it as only helping if people enter this with the correct mindset.

Roh

I don't think it's a matter of overthinking it. You hit the nail on the head, though: we don't get tons of entries for the challenges as it is, and we don't want the monthly challenges to be heavily effected by it because of the word count challenge. We're aware of the fact that any extra writing done for the challenges will just count towards people's word counts, but what we're wondering is if people will be less likely to participate in the monthly challenges during the word count challenge or not. We can throw prompts up for people to respond to, even for non-challenge purposes, but there's no guarantee they'll be used. (This is why the prompts section is so severely underused. No one wants to write responses to the prompts we've posted.)

Basically, the bottom line is that we want to know that people are still going to take the time to submit something to the monthly challenges, even if they're already working on, say a novel, and the prompt we give doesn't necessarily work for anything going on in that novel.
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katfireblade

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If you have suggestions for any more "open" prompts, we're all ears, 'cause that's one of the biggest things we struggle with. Sometimes they're too "open," sometimes they're too specific.  :-\ I think out of the two years the site has been open, the one to get the most entries (which was maybe...eight?) was a fight/duel scene prompt. But it's hard to come up with a bunch of prompts like that that will work, and that everyone will be likely to submit to. We try to mix it up and not always use the same kinds of prompts each time, too.

Hm. A free write every other month might work. Or like....I don't know. We need to do something that will work for both those who are and aren't participating in the word count challenge each month and make it easy for everyone to submit something.

Hmmm...fight/duel might be good again if you don't mind reusing. You might try other "aspects," like an argument, a journey, a kiss, a monster, torture, a sneaky encounter, a death, an escape, finding out information, a daring rescue, and so forth. Just...story aspects might be good for the next few months.

Also we could have itty-bitty prompts like the one your writing group gives out--"hang up twice," "if you must know," "drawn like a bee to honey," "happy as a clam," "no rest for the wicked," that sort of thing. Smaller prompts that could be woven into an already in-progress story or could likely be found in one.

On a side note, just for giggles, my spell check is just absolutely certain "itty-bitty" is not a thing, but it has so few issues with the term "titty-bitty" that it suggested it.

Where...where does that even come from?

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Sheepy-Pie

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On a side note, just for giggles, my spell check is just absolutely certain "itty-bitty" is not a thing, but it has so few issues with the term "titty-bitty" that it suggested it.
Where...where does that even come from?
Has Looh been sneaking out? :P

My brain is like your spell check I think. I was thinking about the duel prompt, then what if we had dual prompts... then dual duel prompts... then jewelled dual duels...

ANYWAY

We could have dual prompts, one an aspect, one a share a piece of what you are writing atm? So those who can't weave in the aspect can share what they are doing for the million

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Jedi Knight Muse

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We could have dual prompts, one an aspect, one a share a piece of what you are writing atm? So those who can't weave in the aspect can share what they are doing for the million
I have to leave for work shortly, but I was actually thinking of trying to do something like this, I just wasn't sure how to make it work/phrase it when making the suggestion. But I think this could work.
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