Papaya, messily carved by Vidya Sury ©

Photography, Name of November Challenge, Vidya’s November Prompt

Collecting Smiles: November Prompt

Did this make you smile today?

Back in 2003, when I started blogging, I realized I would need to eventually brand my writing, give it a tagline and build it in a focused manner to achieve my goals. I decided I would write to collect smiles, by creating a positive space on the web — a space where people visited and left with a smile.

It is true that we must live our motto to truly make it work, and I had enough push from my mom on the be-positive front. She always made me laugh, so coming up with a tagline for my website took two minutes — the question: Did you smile today?

I spot smiles everywhere, in the most unusual of places sometimes. When I don’t have one, I create it. On the veggies and fruits I carve; arranging food in a smiley on my plate, doodling smileys, and then, of course, looking at the funny side of things. It makes life much better to bear and also keeps me stress-free.

And so . . .

The November Challenge is “Collecting Smiles” brought to you by me — Vidya Sury

I did not have to think too hard to come up with November’s prompt — I decided to use my own tagline.

We can definitely do with all the smiles we can collect, can we not? Let’s leave it to the newsfeed to stream all the unsavory stuff!

The concept is to take a photo that somehow captures the meaning of “Collecting Smiles” in some way, whether abstract or concrete, figurative or literal, physical or mental. The possibilities are endless — we’re looking for submissions with different perspectives, unusual stories, and brilliant photographs.

Please read about the Definition, Purpose & Rules of the “Collecting Smiles” Challenge below.

Possible Definitions of How to Use “Collecting Smiles” in Your Six Word Photo Story

There are countless ways to collect smiles in our lives. Smiles bring joy, light up your brain or satisfy you in some way.

  1. “Collecting Smiles!” can refer to something emotional, mental, spiritual, or physical. What makes you smile? A song you are listening to? A memory? A sight you see? A smiley you spotted somewhere, a funny situation, a staged smile with objects? Time spent with friends? The most important thing is that your story should make the reader smile! Be humorous, be silly, be sentimental, be emotional!
  2. “Collecting Smiles!” can refer to something material. Be creative. I see a smile emerging on the surface of my roti while cooking. Arranging my veggies in a smile shape after I chop them. My childhood toy’s smiling face.
  3. “Collecting Smiles!” can refer to something in nature, the universe, or the life cycle. A shape in the sky? Animals? A weird shape? A tomato shaped like a bum?
  4. “Collecting Smiles!” can refer to food or drink. A smiley on your coffee (cup)?
  5. “Collecting Smiles!” is YOU and your perspective. It’s something that represents the meaning of “Collecting Smiles!” in some way or form, from your individual viewpoint — that connects to your photo and story — and your reader.

What’s your “Collecting Smiles!” story?

The Purpose of “Collecting Smiles!”

  1. The “Collecting Smiles!” Challenge is an intuitive self-challenge to explore what makes you smile — maybe it’s internal or external, or both.
  2. The “Collecting Smiles!” Challenge is an investigative challenge to observe and figure out what things in your life can capture the “meaning of Collecting Smiles” through photography, contemplation, and six words.
  3. The “Collecting Smiles!” Challenge is designed for YOU and your perspective.

Can you take a photo that represents “Collecting Smiles!” and tell a story about it in six words?

Collecting Smiles!” Challenge Rules

Please read thoroughly! The editors are particular about formatting.

  1. The photo must be taken by yourself (ORIGINAL & UNPUBLISHED), and please include a photo credit.
  2. Title: Choose your own title.
  3. For your subtitle: Please use November Six Word Photo Story Challenge: “Collecting Smiles!” (like the subtitle used in this article.) Once you have written your subtitle, remember to highlight it and click on the small “T” to format it correctly. Note: This challenge will run from November 1 and close at NOON, Pacific Standard Time, November 30, 2022.
  4. Please tag your story using this tag: Monthly Challenge.
  5. Only ONE PHOTO can be featured in your story, and it must be placed ABOVE the title and subtitle. Your photo must be the first thing our editors see when we review your submission.
  6. The photo must be connected to your story and concept of “Collecting Smiles!” in some way. The connection to “Collecting Smiles” should be made clear either in the photo, six word story, or back story. If you want to be included in the photo with “Collecting Smiles!” the only person that can be featured in the photo is YOURSELF. If you’re in the photo, it can be taken by someone else (please include the photo credit.) Photos of people other than yourself are NOT ALLOWED. See this article for legal reasons why.
  7. The story must only be six words. Once you write your six word story, highlight it and click on the small “T” to format the six words. This is so your six words stand out; it’s a formatting guideline unique to this publication.
  8. OPTIONAL: IF you include a backstory, it can be 1–2 minutes.
  9. The 3 dots (like in this story) should appear directly below your six word story AND your backstory (IF you included a backstory.) If you don’t know how to do this, view the formatting guidelines linked below.
  10. The entire reading time of your story must be no longer than 2 minutes! This includes the photo, six word story, any tags, links, or promotion of yourself or other stories. This is the only thing we check for when we review submissions. We don’t do word counts. It will be unread and rejected if your submission comes in as a 3-minute read or more. We accept up to 2-minute reads for submissions to this short-form publication.
  11. Submit unpublished drafts only. Previously published stories (self-published or published elsewhere) will be unread and rejected. See #13.
  12. TO SUBMIT YOUR UNPUBLISHED DRAFT, follow these instructions: a) click on the three dots in the top right-hand corner of the screen, b) click “Add to publication” c) Select “Six Word Photo Story Challenge” d) Click on “Select and continue.” e) Lastly, click “Submit.”
  13. NOTE: When submitting your unpublished draft, DO NOT CLICK “Publish.” If you click “Publish” — your story will be automatically self-published to your own profile page, and we will NOT accept it if you attempt to submit your self-published story to our publication. See #11.
  14. If you have any questions about the rules or need further clarification about the “Collecting Smiles!” Challenge, please leave a comment on this story.

For formatting step-by-step instructions (these are unique to this publication), see Formatting Your Six Word Photo Story.

The “Collecting Smiles” challenge is open for submissions from Tuesday, November 1, and closes Wednesday, November 30, 2022, at NOON, PACIFIC STANDARD TIME.

NOTE: Stories not formatted correctly, don’t follow rules, or that require edits will delay publication or may not be accepted. Formatting guidelines are unique to this publication — please read them thoroughly. If you’d like to be added as a writer and submit to Six Word Photo Story Challenge publication, please read and follow the submission guidelines.

It’s time to explore the meaning of “Collecting Smiles!”

Grab those cameras or dig into your archives — you may be empowered and surprised to see what you come up with. Open your hearts and minds! Embrace the power of “Collecting Smiles!”

Note: You also have the option to write a six-word photo story featuring a photo and topic of your choosing — as long as the photo and story are connected in some way. The story doesn’t need to be related to the monthly challenge prompt. For your subtitle: Please use your own subtitle followed by the word: Freestyle, OR use Six Word Photo Story: Freestyle. Please tag your story using this tag: Freestyle.

Submissions are always open for Freestyle stories.

— Village hugs, from the editorial team, Vidya Sury, Collecting Smiles, Sandi Parsons, Ellie Jacobson, and Mary Chang Story Writer — creator & editor of SWPSC. If you don’t want to miss any future Six Word Photo Story Challenges, please follow us, this publication, and subscribe to our stories by hitting the “green envelope” button next to our profiles.

About Vidya

After a couple of decades in the corporate world in marketing and training, I am living my dream as a Writer | Editor | Blogger. I enjoy writing so much that besides writing on Medium, I juggle six blogs of my own. I started my own personal publication on Medium a couple of days ago and would love for you to take a look. More about me here.

On really busy days, my free time is restricted to playing with my dust bunnies and showing my diabetes who’s boss. Oh, I love coffee, books, cooking, music, photography, travel, people, and collecting smiles. I believe there is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women. And that people will always rule over technology!

Vidya Sury, Collecting Smiles ❤ Did you smile today?

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