Zine Challenges – The Highs, the Lows, and How to Structure One for Your Success By Natalie Windt

Zine challenges are a fantastic way to build your confidence as a zinester, produce a large body of work over a short period of time, and increase skills. Following prompts or set guidelines can  reign in your creativity while allowing you to express yourself consistently.

While zine challenges can be wonderful, that’s only the bright side of the story. Identifying and anticipating the potential roadblocks to meeting your goals as a zinester can help you finish what you start.

Diving In – Understanding Your Motivations and Setting Your Constraints

“Constraints aren’t the boundaries of creativity, but the foundation of it…” –Brandon Rodriguez

Using myself as an example, I completed #Zinetober last October. The challenge was to complete a zine based on a prompt for every day in October, sharing those creations to social media. 

Perusing selections of prompts I couldn’t really see myself willingly following them. As insecure as I can be, I also recognized that sharing on social media would only get in the way of me completing it. Overthinking about an audience can be my achilles heel. The reasons why I wanted to participate in the first place didn’t quite align with what others were doing with this challenge, and that was okay. 

What I wanted was a blank slate everyday to create something, anything, to completion in order to get back into the habit of regular zine work. Mainly, I was doing this for me. Therefore my initial constraints were as simple as “complete one mini-zine a day for the entire month of October, and on anything you want; that’s it.”

My Why – What’s yours?

I’d been neglecting personal creativity in favor of working two jobs, both of which required me to be creative on behalf of others. Zinetober became a chance for me to once again make something for the simple joy of the experience. Going in with this knowledge was important because it helped me to realize I didn’t want or need prompts.

What’s your ‘why?’ Recognizing your motivations behind participating in any challenge is the most important step. It helps you to choose the best fit for your artistic goals. Maybe your goal is to increase your following on social media, or connect with like-minded artists? Challenges which allow you to consistently hashtag can assist this. Or perhaps focusing on one redundant theme could help you to learn how to approach the same subject with the task of creating something new and exciting each time. That’s a great creative muscle to build!

It all depends on why you are embarking on this journey in the first place, so knowing why is essential to choosing the challenge that’s right for you.

To Share or Not to Share? – This is the Question

I’m not a fan of “likes” or algorithms. It’s not because I’m too cool to seek approval. It’s actually because I tend to sometimes care too much about what others think. 

Armed with this knowledge I chose not to share right away and deactivated my Instagram account for the first two weeks, solely focusing on creating. When I reached a point of comfort and assuredness that I was really going to finish what I started, I shared some highlights from the experience with friends, so they could see what I was up to and hopefully take away some joy or inspiration from it.

This is an important question to consider. Will sharing to social media hold you accountable to completing? Awesome! If you think it will help, go for it! If sharing what you’re making causes creative paralysis due to considering too much of your audience, it’s probably good to forgo sharing every single thing, or sharing right away.


“Creativity is about play, and about having a work ethic with your play…” -Felicia Day

As you embark on your challenge remember it is important to enjoy what you are doing. If you do, you’ll find you treasure every moment with this challenge and rising to the occasion. By taking a few moments to jot down what it is you hope to accomplish and why, you can successfully complete an art challenge and grow as a person. Good luck and be sure to structure your zine challenge to fit your schedule. You got this!

Natalie Windt is a writer, zinester, artist, public relations professional, and former radio show co-host. She enjoys all things communications; written, verbal or visual.

website: nataliewindt.com

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