Last year at the 2017 Write Well, Sell Well conference I made a decision to challenge myself as a writer. Like many, I have a busy schedule. I’m a wife, mother, freelance writer and author. I’m also a friend and daughter. Each of these areas takes time and effort. Sometimes I barely have enough time to wash my hair, let alone think about doing something truly decadent like setting aside time for myself. But as I sat listening to the speakers and talking with the attendees at this past conference, I realized that I wanted to push myself, just as the attendees had pushed themselves by traveling several hours to attend the conference. Like them, I wanted to continue growing as a writer.

No, I’m not new to writing. I’ve been professionally employed for the past 15 years, and I’m grateful to be able to make a living doing something I love. But in no way have I learned all there is to learn. Surely, I could write for the next 50 years, have a litany of additional credits to my name, and still have something to learn.

Always Something New to Learn in Writing

That’s why I decided to challenge myself by reading one writing book a month for a year. I have a list of recommended books that I have yet to read. Every time I read one I learn something. Sometimes I try a technique that the author addresses. Sometimes a book reminds me to read a nearly forgotten classic. Sometimes I even disagree with the author. Nonetheless, by reading these books, I sharpen my own writing and make more thoughtful choices in the future.

How Other Writers Challenge Themselves

The idea of challenging oneself is not unique to me. Lately, I’ve noticed several of my colleagues challenging themselves, too.

  • A loved one published her first essay about her and her husband’s courtship in an anthology.
  • A veteran editor attended his first writer’s conference.
  • An award-winning writer is learning how to harness the power of social media.
  • A gifted author wants to learn how to build residual income by mentoring other writers.

They have reminded me that there are always challenges to tackle.

13 Ways Writers Can Challenge Themselves

As you begin your new year, I hope you accept your own challenge. If you haven’t zeroed in on a challenge yet, here are a few ideas to inspire you:

  • Join a local or online writers’ group
  • Take a writing class
  • Sign up for a Write Well, Sell Well Intensive Retreat
  • Attend the 2018 Write Well, Sell Well conference
  • Listen to the sessions from the 2017 Write Well, Sell Well conference
  • Write (or finish) a novel
  • Submit to a writing competition
  • Query a magazine
  • Journal
  • Write a certain number of words each day
  • Finish your book proposal
  • Submit your book, article, screenplay or fill in the blank to an agent or publisher
  • Subscribe to a magazine on writing (and then read it!)

My hope is that all of us would continue to challenge ourselves as writers. I hope we never stop learning and pushing ourselves to be better, clearer and more engaging, and I hope that as we do, we’re able to impact this world just a little bit in a positive way… one challenge at a time.

Gena Maselli is a professional writer who loves to see others living their dreams. She has authored several books as well as written numerous magazine and Web articles, children’s church curriculum, direct mail and more.

Today, Gena travels the country with her husband and their three children. In addition to her freelance writing, she is busy homeschooling and helping others interested in educating their children at home.