The World of Writing Competitions
I recently decided that I would take the advice from the National Lottery motto - you've got to be in it, to win it - and try my hand at Writing Competitions.
I armed myself with a list of the entire year's most well-known Writing Competitions and spent a coffee filled half hour highlighting each possible entry that's relevant for me (no I don't live in London, come under BAME or LGBTGQIA, write flash fiction or pen poetry collections) and to be honest, there isn't a great deal left! But, with this list, I decided I was going to devise a diary of closing dates and enter each one that I can.
So, three short stories down and £60 out of pocket, I do have to ask - is this really worth it? There is no feedback or thanks, recognition or support, yet, I am paying for someone to read my work, at a time where I am trying desperately to find help and some guidance. I have pressed the "enter" button a number of times and it's almost like sending something off to outer space, never to be seen again. Yes, there is a reply receipt, but really? Is this all I am getting?
However, I have just planned and written another short story and I have got rather excited about this one. I have spent the morning crafting a rather spooky piece for a competition requiring something dark and I'm smiling. It has made my own hairs stand up at the back of my neck and I have edited and re-edited to ensure there are no excess words, typos or grammatical issues. Although I haven't sent it off with another £10-30 of my money, it's sitting on my desktop. Complete. It may not be added to the - in it to win it - submission but I must say quite short and sweet that yes, Writing Competitions are worth it.
I have now written 4 stories that are all improving the more I do to them. I have spent less time procrastinating, looking at Facebook, Twitter, Groupon deals and eating. I have been practicing a craft that I have decided to make my life ambition. I am proud of my work, my brain was tested, and I have accomplished something.
So yes, these competitions have been worth it. You need to find drive and energy from somewhere when you're a lone writer. Digging deep for reason and motivation can sometimes be hard, but these competitions with themes and word counts, are all good for the soul and good for your craft. You don't have to submit of course, save yourself some money, but keep going at it as you may just deliver a real gem. Good luck!