The 30 photos below chronicle a challenge that unfolded for members of my online writing community, To Live and Write in Alameda, across Septemeber 2018. I designed it for newbies who are just beginning to exercise their skills, clients who are keen to establish or re-establish their creative writing habits, and writers who thrive on chasing achievable goals. If you'd like to give it a try, go ahead and hover over a different picture each day to discover your count goal. I'd love to hear how this works for you.

Many of the writers who participated in the September Word Count Challenge went on to entertain us all by playing along with the October Flash Lit Challenge. It's so freaking exciting to bear witness to the growth and development of each member who tackles one of these challenges. I did these for free -- it's that rewarding.

If you prefer custom-made challenges just for you, please contact me so we can talk about your needs and intentions. I'm always game for a game.

I filled October 2018 with 10 writing prompts designed to give members of To Live and Write in Alameda and anyone who stumbled across them on Instagram a consistent adrenaline ride from one deadline to the next, without overwhelming their systems. My intentions for this challenge were to give newbies a sense of accomplishment and a place to share their work, to incite a little good-natured competition among some of our Alameda Shorts regulars, and to get everyone ready for our Month of Extraordinary Goals in November.

It doesn't hurt that 500-word stories read at about three minutes, which is the time allotted to those who sign up for Local VoicesAlthough I will be away (hosting the second annual writing retreat to Reno by train), I leave our 'broken mic' in safe hands. Delegating is a new skill I'm practicing with those I trust. If the audience is lucky, the writers who participated in this challenge will bring their stories to share.

Does the thought of producing a cache of short stories, poems, memoir vignettes, or blog posts appeal to you? I get a real kick out of developing prompts for writers and other creatives -- and watching what you magnificent humans do with them. I am happy to discuss what you're looking for and how I can help you step further into your creativity.

Here are just a few pix from the first retreat I hosted, Write to Reno 2017. It was just a quick train ride up on Saturday and back on Sunday, with all the writing done on board the California Zephyr and a quick overnight in Reno.

Extraordinary word count goals were met and even more extraordinary friendships formed, but everyone agreed the retreat just wasn't long enough.

So we left on the Thursday and stayed through Sunday in 2018, and we'll do the same in 2019. The retreat begins on the train, but then continues for two days in Reno before a final day of writing on the train back home. It's hands down my favorite way to kick off NaNoWriMo.