The desk of a woman in the midst of writing hell.
Writing competitions; remember entering a bunch of those as a kid? I sure did. I used to jump at them, because they were an excuse to write one of the many stories that were invading my head space, and I needed them out to make room for important stuff. Like, Aeris’ date of birth from Final Fantasy VII (February 7th!). There was also an added incentive like ToyWorld vouchers, which I gleefully ended up hoarding a lot of.
Getting back into the concept that I could do something with writing has been daunting, and without a lot of reward in all honesty. I’ve taken a lot of steps (which I’ll be covering in other blogs!) but there isn’t exactly any instant gratification, unless you have hungry/sort of vicious beta readers like I do. Also, how do you know your work is even on track to being publishable or likable, aside from paying someone a lot of money to read it and tell you well yeah nah maybe we can make something of this?
This, for me, is where writing competitions come in. They have a lot of use:
- They force you to write, and usually to a theme or genre you’re not used to. Also, word counts! Practicing telling a concise story can clear up a LOT of unnecessary words in your novel (what-do-you-mean-I-need-three-thousand-words-talking-about-protagonist-having-hair-the-colour-of-sunrise.)
- Incentive. Usually, competitions have cash prizes, and mostly important, people that know their shit reading it. If they like your stuff, FANTASTIC. Some competitions, even if you don’t win, you can pay to get some feedback for a pretty small amount (or they offer it up to you, occasionally).
- They’re a good way of getting used to rejection/winning. We’re probably going to get rejected more often than not, and it is so hard not to take that as a huge criticism. Sadly, we need to toughen up and realise that we can probably do a lot better than we are offering, and that’s ok! Because this is what we want to do. Its a bit easier to not win a short story competition than to be rejected with our labour of love.
- That good old instant gratification. It’s nice to finish something in its entirety, and to send it off. I’ve posted a few off recently and it pumps me up to go back to my novels and give them my all ’cause hey, turns out I can finish stuff!
These are some of the reasons I find writing competitons rewarding. Yeah, it is extra effort and you do have to pay to enter a lot of times (otherwise how are they going to get that sweet prize pool for you and your fellow writers?). The rewards even without winning are worth it, in my honest opinion. So why don’t you grab your pen and paper or computer, have a look at some competitions, and give them a go? I’ll also stop procrastinating from my own current competition pieces and get back to them!