How to get the most out of a challenge.

Shaunta Grimes
4 min readApr 24, 2018

I sign up for a lot of stuff online. I can’t help it. I’m naturally inclined toward hope and I’ve been a student for forty years.

Challenges. Courses. Email series. Coaching programs.

Promises to make me a better writer, a better business owner, a better human being. For free sometimes. Sometimes not. Sometimes really not.

Sometimes the things I sign up for (especially the free things) are basically just new-age infomercials for some paid program. Sometimes, they are the paid program. Sometimes I stumble upon someone who just really wants to share what they know, without asking for anything in return.

Anyway, I’m running my own challenge in May. It’s free.

Here’s what I hope you get out of the 31-Day Ninja Writer Challenge.

  • A framework of habits that will help you write a novel this year.
  • A couple of systems that will help you fit that writing into your limited time.
  • A deeper knowledge of some skills that will make you a better writer.
  • A fully developed, and tested, idea for your next book.
  • The momentum to go from idea to plot, to finished first draft, to edited draft, to publication.

Is that a tall order for a free email series? Yeah. I suppose so. But if you join us, and you actually open and read all the emails, and then take the daily challenges — I really think you’ll get something out of it.

So, I hope you sign up. You can do that right here. Then read below for some ideas for how to get the most out of this (or any other) challenge.

Tag the emails.

If you sign up for the challenge, you’ll get an email every day in May. Mark them with a tag so that you can find them again later. That way, if you fall behind or just can’t impliment everything right now, you can just get back on track when you’re able.

I’m an analog girl, so sometimes when I sign up for something like this, I print out the emails and put them in a binder.

Basically, you just want a way to keep the information together.

Find a couple of people to do it with you.

In 2016 I signed up for the one and only very expensive coaching program I’ve ever participated in. By far, by a huge margin, the best part of it was the deep connection I made with the other people who were in the program with me.

This one’s easy, because there’s a whole Facebook Group full of more than 17,000 Ninja Writers and a ton of them will be participating in the challenge.

You can also see if any of your friends want to do it with you. (Share the link to this post Facebook and Twitter.)

You can join us on Facebook and ask if anyone wants to be your accountability partner for the May Challenge. I promise, you’ll get responses.

Dedicate a notebook to it.

There’s nothing like a fresh notebook, right? For me, it let’s my brain know that something awesome is coming.

These are half off through the end of April, specifically for this challenge, but really any notebook will do.

Get a good pen, while you’re at it.

Commit to a small amount of time every day.

I have a thing for teeny, tiny goals.

I love them. They’ve changed my life. And they apply here (and to anything else you ever want to do. Ever.)

If you start out thinking something like I’m going to write for an hour every day in May, you can almost guarantee that you’ll slip somewhere along the way. Thirty days is a long time, if you think about it. Something’ll come up. An appointment, an extra shift at work, a sick kid. And you’ll miss an hour.

Only, since you’ve wrapped your head around an hour a day, you won’t write for ten minutes instead. You’ll just skip the whole day.

And then you’ll be off you game. So you might end up skipping another day or two. Or just dropping off altogether.

Start out with a goal so small that it’s psychologically easier to just do it than skip it. Ten minutes works well for me. In fact, it works like magic.

So, sign up for the challenge, get some friends, get a notebook, and promise yourself that you’ll spend ten minutes a day working on that day’s challenge.

Here’s that sign up form again. I’d love to get the word out about the Ninja Writer Challenge, so it would mean a lot to me if you’d clap for this post (you can even clap more than once) and share it on Twitter and Facebook and with your writer friends. Thanks!

Shaunta Grimes is a writer and teacher. She lives in Reno with her husband, three superstar kids, and a yellow rescue dog named Maybelline Scout. She’s on Twitter @shauntagrimes, is the author of Viral Nation and Rebel Nation and the upcoming middle-grade novel The Astonishing Maybe and is the original Ninja Writer.



Shaunta Grimes

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