Ghosts of December 23rds Past

We blog for a million different reasons, but in the end we’re all storytellers. Creative Writing Challenges help you push…

Photo by kurtxio, CC BY 2.0.

We blog for a million different reasons, but in the end we’re all storytellers. Creative Writing Challenges help you push your writing boundaries and explore new ideas, subjects, and writing styles.

To participate, tag your post with DPchallenge and include a link to this post, to generate a pingback and help others find the challenges — and make sure your post has been specifically published in response to this challenge. We might just highlight some of our favorites on Freshly Pressed on Fridays, or in our monthly newsletter.

It’s time for a year-end retrospective — but bigger. This week, weave a story about yourself told through the lens of your past December 23rds (or 24ths, depending on which side of the International Date Line you’re on as you read this).

Personal stories that make a larger point almost always resonate with readers. As cultural voyeurs, we’re all interested in the details of each others’ lives that we glean from blog posts, but it’s the bigger life lessons, epiphanies, and shared experiences that draw us in. This week, you’ll write that kind of post — but with a very specific focus.

First, we want you to go back through time, to the December 23rd of years past — one year, five years, ten, twenty; it’s up to you. Where were you on those days? Who were you with? What was happening in your life? What were you excited about, or worried about? What was next for you? What were you wearing? (What? Maybe that last one isn’t a deep question, but it’s an interesting one.)

Why December 23rd? Mostly, because that’s today’s date. We also love the idea of focusing on a relatively insignificant day; those days are full of the daily habits, everyday successes and stresses, and small personal moments that are the building blocks of our lives. (If December 23rd is a little too insignificant for you to remember well, feel free to pick another day — January 1st, your birthday, the first day of summer vacation — that jogs your memory a bit more.)

The Pac-Man ghosts, while not holiday-related, are still quite festive -- plus, no rattling chains or having to stand over your own gravesite while getting lectured about your greed. Bonus! (Photo by kurtxio, CC BY 2.0.)

The Pac-Man ghosts, while not holiday-related, are still quite festive — and they’re non-denominational! (Photo by kurtxio, CC BY 2.0.)

Now, turn that timeline into a story. You’ve got lots of options for how to approach this — try one of our suggestions, or follow whatever inspires you:

  • Pick one year that stands out to you, and go into more detail.
  • Pick a few years that connect in some way, and tell us about that connection.
  • Go through ten years — consecutive or not — and briefly tell us what was going on each year. Then, see if you can pull a out common thread. (If you’ve been blogging for more than a year, try the same thing with your posts from Decembers past.)
  • Peer through the mists of time at a future December 23rd — what do you think you’ll be doing then?
  • Go through old photos — we know you’ve got shoeboxes of them in the closet — and take us on a photo journey of your Decembers.
  • Write some fiction — try a character study of one person, told through snapshots of their December 23rds.
  • Create an infographic (or draw your own) taking readers on a visual tour of your Decembers.

Many of us take time at the end of the year to reflect on the past 365 days. The idea here is the same, just on a slightly grander scale. Start with the details of your December 23rds, and build on them to create a post that helps us understand more than what you were wearing.

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  1. That is so cool. I have been trying to these writing challenges in all the extra time i get. It is so much fun and very interesting. Me and my sister are quite into them. Any body else who’s been trying to???


  2. Wow! How the hell am I supposed to remember individual days, even one that happened last year? I can barely remember the details of what I did last week. This is an interesting idea, but unless you keep an actual day-to-day serious business diary I don’t see how it would be possible to meet this challenge without straight up making things up.


  3. as in the years past, i’m happy that i’m done sending all the obligatory christmas cards today. this time, however, i didn’t enclose the usual holiday letter. you know, the kind where people write about how wonderful the year has been for them, full of achievements and memorable events. i think i have a few of my own to declare, but at the last minute, i decided to keep them to myself for fear of boring would-be recipients with the details.


  4. Many thanks for prompting my unconventional Christmas beliefs, Michelle. December 23rd has long been a spiritual (sort of) day for me. Come to think on it, it’s as meaningful as Christmas day itself. Smiles! And happy whatever holiday you may or may not celebrate!


  5. heres my entry: smells like teen vomit huh? with my great growing feeding spree of literature this days i came across a rather controversial term – ‘fuck normality’ fuck normality, huh, i though to myself.

    with moral and cultural margins placed on you by parents and the ever-reaching media I understood exactly what she meant by that statement and deduced: being told you can’t do this and that eventually boils to a brim until you are comfortable with muttering those words when faced with a dilemma of choosing ice-cream over freshly sprung sugar candy for a one nickeled sweet toothed child. or adolescent shouting them, if repeatedly told of what beauty is and your features resemble little of it.

    Fuck Normality, is no slang there is no climax you’d reach if you were to utter those words, in bed, sweating profusely with your pants relentless around your ankle.

    And I’m sorry, I’m gong of track now.

    But fuck normality is a term confined to ones views – this is a truth i’ve been forced to realize as my state of being, i’ve been told and snaily am coming to believe, is my day to day train of thought.

    a term confined to ones views, that’d lead you to finding friends or if lucky a great friend – amidst friends. who treasure your obscurity when many pretend you don’t exist.

    Fuck Normality – is a strong term, and in it lies the dream of many who came before and laid in red, cold water baths or dangling on coarse golden ropes. A dream for those carrying the burden of needing appeasement, and a triumph never to be realized through the outside world, lest in yourself.


  6. This was a lot more fun — and easier — than I thought this morning when I read the prompt. It’s fun having someone else tell me what to write.


    1. I agree, Martha. Once I have an idea from which to begin, the writing just appears like magic onto the monitor. I’m looking forward to reading your piece.


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