Maybe you sit there at work today, wishing that you were rather writing that big dream novel of yours. Or maybe you are privileged enough to be busy writing that great novel, but are stuck a little bit and need a challenge to kick-start you back into literary action. Or maybe you have a bad attack of writer’s block and don’t know what to do to untangle your imagination. If you fall into one of these categories, then consider doing something else to get you mind off things or to rekindle your creativity. One thing you can do is to enter a writing competition.
There are pros and cons to writing competitions, but the pros outweigh the cons by quite a margin. A writer – either one just starting out or a seasoned one – can learn a lot by regularly entering competitions.
Here are a few of the pros:
- Participating in competitions helps you keep to deadlines. If you don’t keep to the deadline, you have no chance of reaping any awards.
- It gives you desperately needed writing practice.
- You have to keep repeating the writing process – write, edit, rewrite, edit, rewrite, edit, rewrite, edit, rewrite, edit, rewrite… And then be able to let go.
- It hones your writing skills.
- It teaches concise writing, because words are normally limited.
- If you are bilingual or write in even more languages, it is a great way to keep your writing skills up by entering competitions in all the different languages you are able to write in.
- You build your writing portfolio.
- If you win a prize, you gain credibility and prestige. Mmm, bragging rights…
- If it is a paid entry, you earn money if you win!
- You practice to keep writing, even if you don’t win.
- And, hey, the best pro of all is that you don’t get rejection letters from competition organisers!
- Well-known writing competitions have entry fees. (Someone must get paid to read it all.) If you want to enter an international competition and your currency is as weak against the U.S. Dollar, the Euro and the British Pound, like mine is, you will be limited in your choices, because frankly, it will be just too expensive to enter every competition you want to.
- You can get discouraged if you never win. Just get over it and try again.
- You can get so absorbed that you spend all your time entering competitions and never have time to write your novel anymore. I know, because I can spend a month editing 2500 words. Keep your original writing goal/s in mind, do the math and decide when a pro is turning into a con.
I haven’t won a competition before, but I had a few pieces published as runners up. Currently my entry is in for a story in my native language, and we happen to be going home when the winners are announced. We plan to pass through Bloemfontein on route to the Cape the weekend when the winner will be attending a writer’s workshop presented by Deon Meyer. Coincidence? We’ll have to see. J
Take that first step today and do something to pursue your writing dream or to get you out of a writer’s slump. Enter a writing competition. For your convenience, I have listed a few links to pages where competitions are advertised. I included competitions for the Afrikaans writing scribblers out there too. There are more and more Afrikaans competitions available. Watch out for them.
For English Competitions
http://www.aerogrammestudio.com/2014/11/27/19-short-story-competitions-2015/ (various competitions)
http://www.freelancewriting.com/creative-writing-contests.php (various free competitions)
For Afrikaans Readers
Ook vir jong skrywers en poëte (as daar nie so ‘n woord is nie, is daar nou een)
Best of luck. Let me know when you win!
© 2015 – I, Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock tries hard to be a Proverbs 31-woman – excellentest wife, finest mom, greatest lover and successful ‘wordpreneur’ all at the same time. I temporarily share my living space in Cairo, Egypt with my husband, young-adult son, the building’s ginger cat – and the space in my head with way too many ideas and multitudes of story characters to live as a normal functioning human being.