How to enhance your writing with Competitions

I promise I will return to my World Builder series next week, but I thought today I’d discuss writing competitions and why you should be entering them!

How to enhance your writing with competitions

Stepping out of your comfort zone

Writing competitions are great for pushing us outside of what we’re comfortable with.  Why is this great?  Take it from an introvert, sometimes we need that push.  Great things rarely happen inside our comfort zones.

The first competition I did was hard because it wanted a short story (as many do).  Now I am not a short story writer.  I can’t even keep my stories in a single novel, they always expand to become trilogies or longer.

It was way outside my comfort zone because of this, add to that the topic being a little different than what I normally write as well as writing to a deadline.

I did it anyway because sometimes that is what helps to develop you as a writer – trying new things.  (I lost that competition but it was okay, the story I wrote became a new idea and ballooned into a full novel-size WIP).

Sharing your voice

If you want to be a published writer, you need to share your voice.  People need to see your work and it doesn’t have to wait until you’re published.  Let future fans fall in love with your voice, your style, your ideas before a book is even finished.

Now maybe you’re an introvert like me and the idea of people reading your work fills you with dread (not really helpful for a writer, I know).  Well, it’s time you started to get past that.

Better to do it in small steps sooner than finishing a novel and then struggling to ever release it.  Competitions can be a great way of doing this.

They help to get you used to someone else reading your work.  Daunting, I know.  But kind of necessary if we want to be published someday.

Finding confidence in your writing

I’ve known some incredible writers who really think low about their work.  Convinced it’s not good enough.  When we hoard our work, it’s hard to get out of that mindset.  We creatives are, by nature, our very worst critic.

However, we need to start being proud of our work, striving to get better.  Competitions are a fun way of doing that.  A competition gives you targets to aim for, such as managing deadlines, writing topics you’re not used to, changing styles such as writing type or POV.

By trying new things we develop our writing and so develop our confidence.  The more we write the better we become.  By using writing competitions, it also stops you stagnating if you get stuck on your WIP.  You might even fall in love with a new genre entirely.

Dealing with rejection

Let’s make no bones about this, you will not always win the competitions you enter.  Heck, you might not win any.  That’s okay.

If you only go into competitions with the singular goal of winning in mind, then you’re missing everything else I’ve mentioned above.

As writers, we are all going to have to deal with rejection whether that’s from a publisher, an agent or a reader.  How we deal with those rejections, is more important.

Not winning does not mean entering was a waste of time, you learn so much and you continually improve yourself with each competition.  Just like you do with each story you write or blog post you create.

Competitions are actually a great way of helping prepare you for possible rejections in the writing industry.

In the end, not everyone can win and sometimes it just won’t be your time.  Never let that stop you from trying another competition because each time you learn something new.

Charity Writing Competition Feature

You can find many writing competitions with a quick Google search, but I wanted to shine a light on this one run by the READ Foundation, a charity that is striving to provide education to children in poverty.

This is a FREE TO ENTER Writing Competition open to people 18 or older and for those living in the UK.  (See the READ Foundation competition page for full eligibility & submission details)

Do you have a passion for writing?  The READ Foundation, a UK-based charity is accepting submissions for their 2018 writing competition.

The entry guidelines are simple: a poem, short story or first person essay on the theme of “My education helped me….”. This does not mean the writing has to start with this phrase, but this theme must be felt throughout the work. Submissions must be a maximum of 500 words and should be received before midnight on 10th October 2018.

We know how important education is in a young person’s life. Which is why we want entrants to help inspire the next generation of creatives by telling them all about the role education played in their own lives. We’re open to entries from all walks of life and abilities, so you don’t need to be a professional to enter: simply write from the heart.

The Winner

There will be a winner and two runners-up chosen.

The winner’s entry will be displayed within hundreds of READ Foundation schools as well as published on the READ Foundation website.

The winner and the two runners-up will receive feedback on their work from critically acclaimed novelist Qaisra Shahraz.

About the READ Foundation

The READ Foundation was formed in 1994 and is a non-profit organisation who work towards providing school places for children living in poverty in rural Pakistan who otherwise cannot gain an education.

Every child deserves an education and so be given the chance of a brighter future.  The READ Foundation works to create new opportunities for low-income families to send their children to school.

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Hope you enjoyed this blog post, I’ll be back after a well-needed rest this weekend with another Monday Marketing post.

Happy writing

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11 thoughts on “How to enhance your writing with Competitions

  1. Thanks, Ari. I am an ancient writer but still feel there is much to learn. In fact, writers should never cease learning…I am even more curious in my ‘octo days’ than when younger.Due to WW2 and evacuation, I had an abysmal education (seven schools in six years!) Classes were over-crowded. Luckily, I adored reading but didn’t take my English Lit. exams until I was 66 years old! I was more receptive to ‘Old Will’ and ‘the poets’ then! And loved Hamlet…It is no less than tragic when children are denied a good education, so reading and writing should be encouraged at all times. .

    • You are so right Joy, writers should never stop learning. There is always more to learn, to know, to develop 😊

      I found a new enjoyment for Shakespeare after actually seeing some play’s. I feel learning just by reading them was never going to be as good as seeing them in the form they were designed for

      Education is so important and I wish it was given more resources

  2. Love this, Ari 🙂
    The main motivation to me is not to win or published for anthology for example (though winning is certainly would be a special reward). But it is to get someone to read your work. I might not win but maybe a judge comes to love my work and that possibility is rewarding too.
    I agree that it is also a good way to practise and be discipline 🙂 I usually ask an editor to edit my work before submission. After a couple of time working with her, she gets to know my style and I can see from her comments from my first piece to the most recent that my writing has slowly improved. That is a very valuable feedback to my writing – understanding the strenghts, weaknesses and potential. The competitions basically are the motivations. Thanks once again for the great article 🙂

    • Hi Melka, thanks for reading. Apologies for the delay. Yes competitions can be great for that, a step forward to letting a stranger see the work and possibly even get feedback.

  3. Interesting article. As part of a course in Creative Writing I had to write a story about aliens. I had no idea where to start but it became one of my highest marked assignments and has now been accepted for publication in a fantasy short story book.
    Difficult but well worth stepping out of that comfort zone!

    • Hi Julie, thanks for reading. Wow that is great, congratulations on the publication 🙂 It definitely pays to move beyond our comfort zones. 😀

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