Today I wanted to talk about something that I do every year around this time: I start thinking about what my writing challenge for next year is going to be. Every year, I set a challenge for myself, for the entire year. This year my challenge was to create an entire fantasy world, which I kind of put off until the last minute, I must admit, but now I am 20K into my new paranormal series project and having the time of my life with world-building. Last year, it was to write a decent sex scene (which I did, but I am totally never showing anyone).
I try to challenge myself with writing stuff that I either a) think I need to improve b) others think I need to improve or c) things/subjects/character types/genres I haven't written in awhile.
After I choose my challenge for the year, I write it down (generally in glitter glue, because who doesn't love glitter glue?) and tack it to my cork board, where it looms above me constantly, whispering: "Tess, remember this challenge you gave yourself? You can't escape me. WORK ON IT OR THERE WILL BE HELL TO PAY!"
Let me tell you, it's a motivator. By challenging myself each year with something big, I know that I will be improving my writing throughout the year, I have something to focus on when I'm between books or having trouble with whatever project I'm on. The challenge not only helps me grow as a writer in different ways EACH year, but it also kicks my butt into action when Lazy!Tess takes over.
So my challenge to myself for 2009 is this: I am going to work on my settings and description and work harder at making the character's world come to life for the reader. I am told over and over again that my dialogue and characters are good, but my setting needs work, so 2009 is the year for creating realistic, fabulous settings, even if it kills me :D
What about you? Do you challenge yourself?