I recently read The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin.  The book chronicles one woman’s attempt to increase her own happiness levels over a year.  She uses a variety of research and techniques, which are all documented very nicely on her blog, happiness-project.com.  Anyone interested in starting their own Happiness Project can use the tools she provides there.

I found the format of her project particularly intriguing, namely the dividing of her year into a series of what I call, mini-challenges.  You may be familiar with the mini-challenge.  If you have been reading my blog, you’ll know that I have engaged in one myself, writing a novel in a month (check out Nanowrimo).  This was one of Gretchen’s mini-challenges.  Some might call them resolutions.  Others goals.  But, mini-challenges are a bit different.  They are small (or sometimes large), manageable (and sometimes daunting), accomplishments that people dedicate themselves to doing.  They usually have a start and end date, and they usually involve some personal fulfillment or betterment.

In The Happiness Project, Rubin refers to her book as “stunt non-fiction.”  A term she borrowers from a reviewer of her book.  I like it.  Because I like stunt non-fiction.  Reading about how someone else had set themselves some fascinating goal, and then gone about accomplishing it.  A.J. Jacobs comes to mind immediately, as does Eat, Pray, Love.  Mini-challenges are a big part of stunt non-fiction.  Whether it be the man who tried a new job every month for a year, or the one who devoted his year to volunteering, it seems everyone wants to challenge themselves.

The blogosphere is littered with mini-challenges.  My own novel in a month is one.  So is my participation in a weekly photo contest (MCP Action).  Wordpress’s PostADay is one.  More and more people are attempting a daily photo as well.

I would like to applaud the mini-challenge.  It is fun.  Engaging.  And, I think, it works.

Here are a few of the writing mini-challenges that I have come across:

Post A Day: Self-explainatory WordPress Fun

Script Frenzy: Write a 100 page script in a month (April)

Story a Day: Write a story a day – in May

SmithMagazine’s Six-Word Memoir: Tell your story, in six words

Six Sentences: Write a story in six sentences

What’s your favourite mini-challenge? (Or maybe you hate mini-challenges.  Think they are the scourge of society.  I’d like to know about that, too).

I like the mini-challenge, and, as long as I’m enjoying them, I’ll keep trying new ones, as the spirit moves me.  Maybe you want to join me?