The fourth annual National Writing Day took place on 24 June 2020. In the context of a global pandemic, activities necessarily shifted online. We framed the day around a mass participation creative writing exercise, the #247Challenge. As a call to action, it proved to be incredibly popular, with thousands of stories and poems shared online. Here we have collated just a few of the incredible submissions we read.
The #247Challenge was a fun proposition with a deceptively simple premise: write a story or poem in just seven minutes, using only 24 words, starting with the prompt ‘One day…’. Take a snap of your piece (or even record a video) and share it to social channels with the hashtag #247Challenge.
Although this year’s National Writing Day focused on engaging schools to take part, people of all ages responded to the #247Challenge. We saw an array of themes coming up too, from dragons to inventive nonsense poems, even stories from the point of view of the Mars Rover! We soon saw common themes trending, including lockdown and the Black Lives Matter movement. Scrolling through the tagged stories, really gave a sense of events and how the nation was feeling.
What follows is only a small sample of the stories and poems tagged on Twitter (though you can read more here.) We haven’t included the many stories shared on Instagram, Facebook, by email and via messaging apps, or the many stories that forgot to include the hashtag. There were just so many stories!
Unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdown and containment themes came up many times. The #247Challenge writing prompt was ‘One day…‘ and so many stories looked forward to the day when the pandemic would be over.
There were a few stories about the freedom that has come out of lockdown too…
Black Lives Matter
The subject of equality and responses to the Black Lives Matter movement featured in a huge number of the #247Challenge stories we read—reflecting events, demonstrations, and conversations happening at this time.
And in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, on 25th May 2020, a number of #247Challenge stories referenced oxygen and being able to breathe.
The theme of family, in some form or other, features prominently in a lot of writing by participants in First Story’s Young Writers programme. Perhaps because of the lockdown, forcing distance between families and loved ones, we saw an abundance of creative writing dedicated to our respective nearest and dearest.
Perhaps in response to the isolation of lockdown, many wrote about missing hugs, or not being able to touch loved ones.
On a lighter note, the sun—or sunsets, or sunrises—was mentioned more than a few times in the #247Challenge. (To be fair, the 24th June was a warm summer day!)
…and the Moon
There was a fair bit of writing about the moon too!
These snapshots represent only a tiny sample of the volume of creative writing inspired by this year’s National Writing Day. As a nationwide celebration of the pleasure and power of creative writing, NWD2020 was the most successful to date. We now cannot wait to do it all again in June 2021—although we can’t imagine what the trending themes will be then!