By Annette Young
Writing competitions – they are a unique way of firing up your enthusiasm for the written word and sending your skill level to crazy new heights. Receiving notification that you have won a writing competition is pretty special. It’s like having your Christmas and birthday presents wrapped up in one sensational moment. You feel good. No, you feel great. More than a boost to your self-esteem, more than an eureka moment – what am I going to spend all that cash on? It’s confirmation that your writing skills are pretty good.
You can be a prolific writer and you can have the best technical writing skills in the world but it doesn’t mean you are going to win any writing competitions – why? Because to win writing competitions, you have to enjoy it. You have to look at the competitions that are on offer and think wow, I really want to have a go at that. Those with a theme are often easier if you are just starting out, or, if you just like having a trigger to springboard your creativity to new heights.
Having a passion for the written word is vital. Enjoying that brain pulsing moment when you take an idea and run with it and find out that hey, it’s a pretty good idea, well, that’s a great moment. You have to be able to live and breathe writing. To stand at the sink tackling the washing up when really, your mind is far away solving mysteries in the Caribbean, or enjoying an illicit preview of your characters clandestine affair.
But more than excitement, you have to be prepared to knuckle down and actually do the work. You have the ideas, you’ve narrowed them down, then you need to find your starting point. Depending on your word count allowance, your starting point might be very close to the end, but decide on this first of all and then let the words flow. Make the opening sentence dynamic. Choose your words carefully, make every one count. Just because you are a competition writer, it doesn’t mean you don’t embark on the whole re-writing element of the game. Change it, shine it, polish it. It represents you but don’t sit on it, doubting it until after the closing date.
Entering writing competitions enables you to put yourself out there. You are endorsing your work and saying, here I am. This is what I am about. Although your work undergoes a judging process, you, the writer are not judged. We know all about the writing journey and often, it starts with writing competitions like ours. The main element to winning is to enter in the first place. It’s as simple as that. You will never start to know how good you are until your work is circulating, doing the rounds. If faced with rejection, take another look at your submission. Could you have improved it? If yes, tweak it, save it and then submit it to another writing competition -assuming the story-line fits. When you write with determination and dedication, you will see your work progress in leaps and bounds.
So can you win writing competitions? Yes, you can, you just have to dream up a captivating idea, enhance it, write it and then send it.