Monday Challenge: Chocolate Death Rain

Sadly, the candy coating did not help them survive the explosion of the Death Star.

Just a quick post up today, since I’m in the process of of both cooking a giant ham and cleaning my house so that we can have an easter egg hunt for seven people in their thirties today. Because when you’re too old to look for plastic eggs hidden among your friend’s erotica collection, you’re too old for life.

But I haven’t forgotten you, my sugar-addled little word badgers of doom. Despite it being an extra long weekend for a lot of people, there’s still writing to get done. So here’s my prompt for today.

This is a holiday closely associated with death, resurrection, chocolate, and pastel colours. There’s some cognitive dissonance there; think on it too long and you end up with a chocolate coated Angel of Death in a lilac robe. I don’t know if that would make the end better or worse, but it sure as hell would be a surprise to see it.

Monday Challenge: write something that involves both death and candy. If you have a diabetic character, you can probably get both of those together pretty easily, but work a little harder. Give me your Fondue Pits of Doom, your Pixie Stick of Life and Death,your Big Rock Candy Mountaineering Accident. Make it interesting, make it weird, and above all, make it sweet.

*Ever been whipped with one of the big ones? They hurt.

Monday Challenge: I’m Being Followed

Deutsch: Rattenfängerauszug Hameln Tag der Nie...

My hat is better than this, but if you guys want to dress up as rats, I’m not going to stop you. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hello, new followers!* Welcome to the Bare Knuckle Army. Don’t worry, it doesn’t require any real service, though you will be receiving a complementary tinfoil hat in the mail so I can read your thoughts.**

The concept of a follower is an odd one. I picture a bunch of people hanging out in my living room while I write this: sitting on the couch, petting the cats, occasionally getting up to peruse my bookshelves. That one guy in the corner talking to himself. There is the nagging sensation that I should put out snacks.

Or I imagine a huge trail of people following me, in my comic book t-shirts and ripped up jeans, over a mountain range. Like a fucked up Pied Piper.*** We’re all heading to the same place: story land. But on the way there’s an awful lot of monsters. Some of them will come with us, too.

Well, I can’t promise I won’t lead you astray, but at least the trip will be an interesting one.

Down to brass tacks then: you’re here for a reason. Those of you new to this, every Monday I put up a writing challenge to get your week started off right. Sometimes it’s an idea, or a character exercise. Sometimes it’s whatever weird shit I find floating around in my brain when I stagger out of bed on Monday morning and have to remember how to act like a Qualified Adult. Give it a try and see what happens. And if there are any brave souls out there who would like to post their results in the comments, I’d love to read them. And I salute you.

In honour of all of you today, you Monday Challenge is this: write about someone being followed. Write from the point of view of the follower or the followed; write is as paranoid or as silly as you like.

And stay close. We’ve got a long way to go yet.

*Every time I get a new follower, I turn around, half expecting to see someone lurking behind the lamp in the corner. Watching. Waiting.
**It is very stylish, though. Tell your friends.
***Pied Piper Me also has a very stylish hat.

Monday Challenge: Clean

Monday coffee

Well, how do you get your first cup of coffee on Monday? (Photo credit: dadevoti)

Do you know why I always post a writing prompt on Monday? After all, it’s a fucking bastard of a day, right?* You’ve got enough to do, what with a new week starting and your boss breathing down your neck about those lesbian stripper ninjas she ordered which still haven’t arrived from Human Resources.** Honestly, how hard can it be to get a couple of lesbian stripper ninjas, does she have to do everything herself?

I put it up on Monday because Mondays are clean.

If you start your week on Monday, as many of us do, then every Monday that rolls up does so as pristine and shiny as a cherry ‘Vette just out of the showroom. It might not always feel that way—it’s the end of a weekend, after all, and the beginning of work again—but it has potential.

As the week goes on, excuses and obligations pile up. Unfinished projects eat your free time. Until that shiny new beginning is forgotten and the week becomes…well, just another week.

Until next Monday.

That’s why I’m here Mondays, bringing you a writing challenge: so that you can take advantage of a new week’s promise and start off right. With creativity and fun and maybe a few swears. Even if the rest of the week goes to hell in a hand basket—which happens to the best of us—you can still look back at Monday and say, “I wrote, and that’s awesome.” Because it is.

So, my Monday test monkeys, for this day, the beginning of a new week, write me a beginning. Something clean. Something as yet unsullied by its passage through time. Something new.

And make your week a great one.

*Though anyone who tells me that I have a ‘case of the Mondays’ will be summarily shot out of a cannon towards the sun. I don’t know if you’ll get there, but I’m willing to try. Be warned.
**My view of the corporate world may have been informed by porn and anime. This is what happens, though, right?

Monday Challenge: Running Out Of Time

Dental hygienist polishing a patient's teeth

I chose this picture entirely because it weirds me the fuck out. Enjoy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After blowing off my entire to-do and chore list yesterday to go for a long run and then hike to some awesome waterfalls with friends, I started today under the gun.

And now here I am, just past noon, working on the second-to-last* item on my list. Apparently the way to get me to do something is to not give me enough time to do it in.

I’ve heard this myth before: the I-work-better-under-stress myth. Usually in school, coming from the mouth of someone staying up until 4 am to finish a research paper.** It’s a lie, of course—I am most definitely not working better right now—but it can be a useful one. One that gets you out of someday and into now.

Now, if people said that they worked better under a deadline, that I could get behind. Because nothing is more motivating than the knowledge of a clock ticking down somewhere. The clock means Consequences, which are far harder to ignore than a shrug of disappointment.

So the Monday Challenge, fellow toilers of keys and brain, is this: write me a deadline. Somewhere, there is a timer, and it will run out. What happens when it does? Doom?*** Teeth cleaning? Velociraptor Jesus descends from the sky on a hoverboard to take us away? Or something worse?

Write me tension, write me time, write me the nail-biting, heart-pounding, stomach-clenching realization that time is running the fuck out. And then what happens when it does.

I’m off to finish my to-do list.

*Note that placement on the list is more indicative of time constraints than importance. There were like eight fucking things I had to get done before eleven A.M or forget about entirely.
**I also stayed up late to finish papers at the last minute, but my excuse was more like, “What? I was busy drinking. Get off my back or get me more cigarettes.”
***Always my first choice.

Monday Challenge: Distractions

Bullshit Ahead warning in style of warning roa...

This sign should have been on my week. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Hello, Monday. Been a while. About a week, I think.

I know what you’re doing here, with your distractions and your bullshit. You’re no better than that asshole Friday. Between the two of you, it’s amazing I get any work done at all.

What’s that? Only a week, you say? Bullshit. Fucking bullshit. I haven’t seen your ass ‘round here for longer than that. Last week, when you should have been here, with your distractions and your asshattery, I was busy, thank you so very much. I went for a run, and wrote, and posted a blog, and then went to my firearms course.

Oh, you were here anyway? Guess I didn’t notice you. Which was great. Because, honestly, today you just won’t leave me alone.


I am not having the best day over here. Monday is being a right pain in the arse, and I don’t know how to make it stop. As soon as this goes live, I’m going to try scotch. That works, right?

Anyway, my kitten-like ability to be distracted by shiny things aside, this is still Monday, which means it’s challenge time. I’m going to attempt to turn this day around by writing about my distractions. I have some kind of reverse psychology theory going that, if I pay more attention to them, they’ll go away.

So why don’t you try the same? There’s something that’s keeping you from writing today. Holidays, work shit, family crises, hell, just the internet. Write about that, in all its glorious distraction-y goodness. Give it its due.


And maybe then it will fuck the fuck off.

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Monday Challenge: Hanging Your Hat

The Home Welcome Sign

Hello. We missed you. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy Monday, lovelies. Can you feel its icy breath on your neck as it tries to drag you back into Lazy Time? Not to worry, I’ve just the thing. Time to warm up your brain and flex your fingers. The week’s just getting started, so let’s get it going off right.

Today’s challenge is setting-related, but since all the elements of a story need to work together like Voltron, it’s character and plot related as well. Synergy: it’s the name of the game.

Today’s Iron Writing Ingredient is…..home.

That’s a loaded fucking word, isn’t it? Lots of baggage there. It’s the place you came from and sometimes the place you’re going. It can be the place you feel safe or the place you had to leave because it was no longer safe. It can be a house, a neighbourhood, a backseat of a car, a box in an alley, a hospital room. It can exist nowhere but inside your own head, something to be looked for and planned for. It can be nowhere at all.

If your character had a set of ruby slippers, where would they take her when she clicked her heels and wished?

Write about the place your main character thinks about when they consider the word ‘home’. Is it their apartment? Their parent’s place? Is it the same place it’s always been since they were a kid, no matter where their actual body was? Or will they be surprised to find the meaning of home has changed in their heart while they weren’t looking? Is it a safe place? Was it ever?  Are they there now? If not, why did they leave? What stops them from going back? Will they ever go there again?

Who is waiting there for them?

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to skin Monday and fly its pelt from my flagpole.

Throwing Down The Gauntlet: The Monday Challenge


Somewhere, tiny earwig assassins train to kill me. (Photo credit: Mamboman1)

It’s that day again.
Monday has lost some of its bite now that non-traditional work schedules are more common, but there’s still something about it. Too many hangovers where the only thing that can get you out of bed is the pureed adrenal gland of a honey badger mixed with methamphetamine? Maybe. Whatever the reason, this day’s still got enough teeth to bite you in the ass.

I can help.

See, for my money, the thing about Mondays is that it’s when you start things.* Restart at the very least. You’re back in the saddle for another week. Or you will be, as soon as you can shake off that grump and muster up the energy to climb on the damn horse. And finding that energy, that ass-kicking-rush to get up and do shit, is where most of us hit a wall. Seriously, if that adrenal gland-meth cocktail was a real thing, I’d be ordering it from some black market pharmacy as we speak.

We all need a boost. Just a little, man, one good hit to get started. Because if we can get Monday right, the rest of the week might just slide into place.

So, here’s the deal: starting today and running until I get bored**, I’ll be posting writing challenges every Monday. Some will be character related, some plot, some setting, and some just entirely random. Just a little something to hook the jumper cables up to your writing week.

Here it is: write a moment of irrational fear.

Note the irrational part. I’m not talking about fear of gunmen, or foreclosure, or falling off a cliff. Those are perfectly rational fears. No, I’m talking about that moment after you squish an earwig with a tissue and flush its flattened corpse down the toilet before sitting down and you have a flash of horror that the earwig isn’t dead after all and now it’s coming back for revenge while you’re on the toilet. Or that second when you’re absorbed in an odd train of thought and you think, What if someone in this room can read my mind? And for a second, just a bare second, you believe it.

Write that second of fear for someone, and then their reaction to it. Do they talk themselves out of it? Or are they unable to? Do they make a tinfoil helmet? Do they stare around the room and try to pick out the mindreader? Do they grab the industrial strength Raid and start spraying?

Too often characters are written as perfectly rational at all times, making the best decisions and having ordered, sensible thoughts. Fuck that. In real life, it’s a shit show up there most of the time. So write 250 words—yes, I’m giving you a length and everything, it’s the stump of my English teaching instinct—of that irrationality. If you have characters you’re developing, use one of them. Get to know their irrational lizard brain. If you don’t have a character ready, then write about yourself. Or make someone up for the express purpose of scaring the shit out of them.

There it is: 250 words. Fear. Reaction. Go.

And if you’re feeling really brave, post your results in the comments.

*Fun fact: I always start a new novel on a Monday. Always.
**Or get distracted by something shiny.