Challenge,  motivation,  On Writing,  publishing

Challenges (Wrong Information Out There)

Not Sure How This Information Got Spread…

But I heard yesterday from a person who didn’t feel that spending $600 and then not being able to write on something a year in would be a good thing. And that they would lose their money like putting it in a slot machine.

I wrote back and said that the challenges don’t cost anything. Yes, you spend the $600 to get into the mix. But if you miss, you get $600 in credits for anything on WMG Teachable except for another challenge. So in other words, you buy $600 in credits for any workshop or anything, and then get to have some deadlines to hit before you use the credits.

And if you hit the challenge, you get a lifetime subscription to any of the lifetime subscriptions for your $600 fee. Plus you have a bunch of books published or stories written or novels written as well.


No place with the challenges do you just lose $600.

We made sure the challenges were no risk. You are writing or publishing only against yourself. And if you miss, you get more learning.

And you can start at any time you want. Just let me know.

So thank you for telling me this kind of thinking is out there. Kris and I don’t want your money, we just want you to keep learning and maybe challenge yourself as well. That’s why all the challenges were designed that way.

  • Short story per week for 52 weeks…
  • Novel every two months for 12 months…
  • Novella every month for 12 months…
  • Publish something major every month for 12 months… 

Simple and straight forward. And most find them fun.




  • Joe Cleary

    The challenges are the best thing I’ve ever done for my writing. I’m ten months into the short story challenge and eight months into the publishing challenge and haven’t missed.

    I missed on my fourth novel and then missed again when I signed back up, so I have some critical voice issues to clear up that I’m able to get past on short stories, but not so much on novels. I’ll be back at that one when money allows.

    The challenges have kept me focused on writing through a hectic, stressful year. Planning and paying for a wedding, taking a promotion at work that involved tripling my commute and a lot more responsibility, some nagging health issues that are draining my energy. Without the challenges, I probably would have atopped writing altogether by now.

    And as you said, Dean, I got $600 in credits for missing the novel. I get to keep taking classes, keep learning, and keep my mind on writing. I’ll have another $600 coming when I email you to let you know I missed the second time 🙂

    If you have taken craft classes, taken the critical voice workshop, and you still aren’t writing as much as you want to be, I definitely suggest signing up for one or more of these challenges. They might just be the push you need.

    I learn a lot more about writing from actually doing it than I would taking all the craft classes in the world in a vacuum. In fact, I did just that for two decades and wrote less in twenty plus years than I have in the last six months.

    • dwsmith

      Joe, great to hear about the more writing. Practicing and just having fun writing and getting things out, combined with learning, is the key to success. 100%. Well done, and you have a bunch of novels from those novel challenges, which is great. Total win.

  • Balázs

    I bought a challenge and failed it and learned many new things in the workshops I bought with the credits. And also, the challenge taught me a lot about writing. It was really a win. I will make another try later.

    • dwsmith

      No one who tries really fails. Just life stuff happens. But the stories you got done are wins, and the learning is a win. These challenges are no fail zones. No matter the turn-out, they are wins.

  • Mary Jo Rabe

    Participating in the short story per week challenge was a huge step-up for my writing (naturally along with WMG workshops). I can’t recommend it highly enough. It is truly a win-win opportunity.

    • Lyn Perry

      Your challenge details have been clear from the start, at least on my end of understanding. Totally fair and win win win imo. People should read more closely and pay attention, I should think! But thanks for clarifying!

  • emmiD

    Those “fail-safes” to the challenges got me to push the button on the Great Publishing Challenge.

    And the challenge is motivating me in unexpected ways. I’m writing several short stories to bundle–previously, I avoided short stories. For my 1st entry, I wrote a gothic-style novella. Currently, I’m finishing a fantasy novella that I got stuck on back in November and walked way from to write that gothic novella. I’m going to stick myself into another audio thingie.

    I know that, should I miss, I will have things to publish as well as credits. Should I succeed, I may pick up another challenge. Even if I miss, I may pick up another challenge.

    The Challenges are what every motivating / productivity / goal-setting article says: tell someone–that’s Dean and have incremental goal posts for success.

    Now Omicron did a number on me: 10 straight days of no writing and recurring bouts of fatigue for two more weeks, but the sun is shining and I am writing AND it’s fun!

    Which is the point.

    That rumor feeds into defeatist thinking. They need someone to pull them out with a jerk. Jeez.

    • dwsmith

      Just wrong information as to the reason for the challenges is all. They are a no-lose thing, with sort of like “I’m buying a couple workshops and might as well try a challenge on the way to the workshops. (grin) Not fun with the Omicron, but glad you are on the other side of it. Keep it fun.

  • Erica

    I’m glad you had the chance to clear up the misunderstanding.

    I’m participating in some of the challenges right now, and they’ve been incredibly good for me. I’m getting tons of practice writing, and pretty quickly I learned from the deadline pressure that if I was going to keep making deadlines, I had to let go of critical voice and just start telling stories that are fun for me. Making that switch has been a revelation for my writing.

    I love the encouragement to publish, too. Thanks to the way the challenges are structured, I’ve learned how much fun it is for me to make books. I’d done it a few times before, but I’d definitely made that into an important and intimidating activity – which means I rarely did it. Now when I look over what I’ve done just in the past month, it’s so exciting to see – and the challenges are what pushed me to accomplish those things.

    It also helps to know that, like you said, there’s nothing to lose. When I first signed up, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to keep it going. Any time I worried about it, though, I just told myself it’s no big deal – if I miss, I still get to take some workshops, and there are plenty I’d love to take. I haven’t missed yet, but if I do, I’ll know I learned a lot already and I still have fun workshops ahead. I’ll also have failed to success – I’ve already written more this year than in the past couple combined.

    Thanks for running these, and I hope there isn’t too much misinformation out there. I would highly recommend the challenges to anyone who enjoys a little good-natured pressure.

    • dwsmith

      Thanks, Erica. Really glad they are fun and I love the description “good-natured pressure.” Exactly how I feel about them. Thanks!!

  • Cheryl

    Tip: The Short Stories (1/wk 52 wks) might be the best thing anyone can do for their writing (if they’re not already one of the Pulp Speed people). That’s IMO.
    PS: Add the Monday Motivation for an exponential assist.

    • dwsmith

      Yeah, the story a week really helps with focus, that’s for sure. And glad you are liking the wild Monday topics. The one this week was Kris’s idea about talking about resting and why and when.

  • Ed Teja

    As I close in on completing novel six in the challenge, I have to say it’s been a good motivation, Dean! Enjoying it immensely. You should have received the print copy of book five a couple of days ago!!

    The challenge idea might not be right for everyone, but as you say, it’s hard to see a downside to trying it.

  • Linda Niehoff

    If I’ve counted right, I’m 6 away from completing the short story challenge. And while I’m really excited for the Lifetime Subscription, after what I’ve gained this year, I would actually pay for the opportunity with no rewards and no class credit at all. Maybe that’s crazy, but it’s true (although I still cannot WAIT for Power Words and now Secrets in Craft, too). The funny thing is, at the start of the challenge, Killing Critical Voice was at the top of my wishlist. But now with a little more than a month left… it’s moved down the list. I’ve had to find ways to kill it on my own so that I actually did the challenge and had fun in the process. (Who wants to do a challenge like this without having fun??) That’s been immensely valuable to my writing.

    I’d still love to see a blog post on what to do AFTER a challenge. I tend to get bored easily – especially once I complete a challenge – and want to move on to bigger and better things. Part of me wants to keep up the story a week and part of me wants to try novellas and part of me wants to try TWO stories a week or a story a day for a while. My biggest fear is not writing at all. Or somehow slipping back into not finishing things/finding excuses.

    But regardless of what I decide, I so far have 48 stories done (46 plus 2 for the two Kickstarter special classes I took along the way). If something catastrophic happens and I *don’t* make the challenge, I have 46+ stories I didn’t have before. And it’s really solidified my ability to FINISH things. I’ve even gone back and finished several old story starts over the past year (that weren’t turned in or counted for this challenge). I would have paid $600 for that ability alone. But I’m still grateful for the workshop credits and for you and Kris providing this. It’s been absolutely amazing!

    • dwsmith

      Thanks, Linda. You are really doing great. And I will do a post about “after challenge” or two posts. I also find that time challenging. (grin) And I love doing challenges.

  • Markus

    I find the short story challenge fun, as well, and think is is very much worth it. I mean, I would be writing the stories anyway, but having Dean as a deadline puts a bit of extra spice on things. And, sure: Some stories turn out fine, some all right, and some… well. But even if they don’t come together the way I wanted, it’s good training and I find the incentive worth it. And getting the “Got it fine. Cheers” is nice, too. 🙂

  • Suzan Harden

    I agree with Joe, Linda and a few others. The Publishing Challenge really helped me clear out the last vestiges of critical voice–the one that kept whispering, “Why bother publishing? No one’s going to read your stuff.”

    For me, the decision was made by weighing the two workshops I wanted to take as a minimum for trying versus ALL the workshops if I succeeded. And I was too busy creating covers and writing to meet the publishinng deadlines that I didn’t have time to listen to that stupid little voice.

    Yeah, these challenges are a win-win proposition!

  • Charlotte

    Doing six months of short story challenge and then a full novel challenge taught me a lot. I would never have written so many stories otherwise. For me, it turned a stupid idea (writing in English) into an empowering success and the start of a great new adventure. I love the challenges. They’re very cool things that you can’t find anywhere else, and they would be well worth 600 dollars, flat, but the way you built them with that failsafe win/win mechanism is very considerate to those of us who can’t yet very well handle much pressure and just need a gentle nudge and some cheerleading along the way. Thanks for doing those.

  • Kate+Pavelle

    I completed two challenges and, as a result, I have a ton of classes at my disposal. But more importantly, I proved to myself that I can write to deadline, consistently, even on the train or on the plane. My biggest caveat is that with my frugal (CHEAP, cough cough) immigrant mentality, now I feel like I have to take every class, and that has gotten in the way of my writing a bit.
    (“I should write… eh. Not sure where this is going. Let me just check whether Dean uploaded new videos on that class…” and before you know it, it’s 1AM and I’m hip-deep in an unrelated craft course!)
    I’ve been tempted to do the novella challenge, just to gain some ground effect.
    And I know I can do that.
    Except if I do complete it, I’ll have even more classes – and then what? Will the writing win, or will the Dean-watching win?
    Oy vey. I’m a mess, somebody dunk my Critical Voice in the pool! 😉

  • Heather Ormsby

    I completed the short story challenge last year and loved it. I ended up publishing four short story collections, entered one story to a contest and was a winning finalist, and the rest are out on submission to various magazines and anthologies.

    But the best part was knowing that I could actually make a new year’s resolution and stick with it – first time ever. And it really got my writing off the ground. If I had ‘failed’ it would still have been a win with several short stories written and $600 in workshops available to me.

    Thanks, Dean, for the great opportunity.

  • Graeme

    The short story challenge was worth it for me. Admittedly I did also get it during a sale, so it was half-price at the time, but it turns out paying for an immovable external deadline was a really good way to make sure I didn’t miss a week.

    I’ve tried setting similar challenges before for myself and they never lasted, but this one did.

    I learned a lot about how I write, and what I still need to improve — I left a few too many of them until Sunday evening, but I proved to myself I could get the stories written. In fact, I’m still writing a story a week since the challenge finished.

    And because completing the challenge gave me the lifetime study-along workshop access, now I have what are basically six workshops/mini-challenges spaced through the rest of the year to look forward to.

  • Linda+Maye+Adams

    I completed the short story challenge last year. There was a point at Story 7 where inner critic kicked in big time, and it returned at the halfway point. There were stories where I thought they were terrible and barely hit the minimum word requirement–and now I look at them and they’re pretty good. And after I got to the halfway point, I started thinking I’d come too far to let the inner critic make me stop. Three of the stories won silver or honorable mentions, and one’s in consideration. And one piece of a skill area I’ve struggled with finally clicked in the last ten stories. And I used my lifetime subscription to take the Killing Critical Voice workshop. Highly recommend it!