Or 'it's not the winning but the taking part.' How many times have you heard these expressions? This week I've been trying to keep both sayings in mind when I've been editing some competition entries.
My Writing Magazine arrived this week along with a Competition Special 20125 supplement listing hundreds of competitions. There are competitions for all genres of writing from short stories, poetry, flash fiction, novels and articles with closing dates right through to the end of May next year.
There's so much choice so which ones do I choose? At the moment I am limiting myself to submitting short stories and flash fiction. I like writing poetry and have sent a couple of poems to Poem Pigeon but I need to hone my poetry writing skills before submitting to bigger competitions! My novel is in its embryonic stage, so-to-speak, so the novel competitions are out too. As a relatively new writer, I try to enter the smaller competitions, perhaps run by writing groups rather than the well-established organisations. The prizes tend to be much smaller as are the entrance fees and that makes me think that established or published authors will not be entering. I have also been told that the themed competitions tend to attract fewer writers whereas in the 'open' competitions, you may have a story already written that you could submit. In her blog, 'Words about writing and writing about words', Patsy Collins regularly includes information about competitions that are free to enter.
Why enter? Jonathan Telfer, the editor of Writing Magazine, has made some good points. He thinks that competitions can be:
- a 'valuable motivational tool' when competitors are asked to meet the challenge of a 'tough brief'
- a way of 'taking a break from our current work-in-progress' and 'trying new topics and themes'
- invaluable in raising your profile as a writer.
In the main edition of Writing Magazine October 2014 there is more advice in Gary Dalkin's article 'Hope and Glory' on page 12. He, too, explores the benefits - other than winning - of entering writing competitions.
'The advantage of targeting competitions is what it will bring to your writing, developing your craft in new ways. This is the real prize. Of course it will have the spin-off of making you more disciplined and dead-line focused...Along the way you may find you are more versatile than you ever imagined. You may find you thought of yourself as one kind of writer and discovered that you are actually several sorts of writers all in one...Even if you don't win you can't lose.'
It's that last short sentence that's going to stay with me as I pay the entrance fees - only the small ones, of course! - and submit my entries.
Which competitions do you enter? What benefits are there? Have you won any? I'd really like to hear what you think.
Thank you for reading my blog. You may follow me on Twitter @JanBayLit and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.
PS Hot off the press - Congratulations to Susan Jones for making the short list of the RNA new talent awards. Good luck, Sue!
PPS Don't forget about the excellent opportunities offered in Alfie Dog Fiction's International Short Story Competition. Closing date 30th September.