Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Value of Writing Competitions

Why I enter Writing Competitions
By Debbie Roome

My junior school teachers got me interested in entering writing competitions. Recognizing I had a natural gift for writing, they encouraged me to enter many over the years. I can still remember the first verse of a poem that I was awarded honours for:

I met a monster
In my travels in space
His hair was bright green
And so was his face

That was a few decades ago but I still enjoy the challenge of writing competitions today.

Competitions Teach you to Write on a Set Topic
Most competitions give a subject and a word count. This is an excellent discipline as it forces you to write within limits.

Competitions Teach you to Work to Deadlines
In a similar fashion, deadlines give opportunity for writers to stretch their skills. Whether the time period is a month, a day or a few weeks, work to complete the story ahead of time.

Competitions Encourage Writing in Different Styles and Genres
I’ve entered competitions where I’ve had to write science fiction, historical fiction and chick lit – none of which are my favourite genres. However, the effort required was good for my writing muscles. Those stories never placed but they helped me grow as a writer.

Competitions give Constructive Criticism and Feedback
Many competitions offer a critique or a few suggestions from the judges. This is especially true of smaller competitions. Although it can be hard to have the faults in your work pointed out, it is an excellent way to correct weaknesses.

The Rewards of Placing in Competitions
It feels good to place in a competition or even receive some positive feedback. Here are some of the rewards I’ve received over the years:

· Money
· Trophies
· Books
· Gift Vouchers
· Publication in anthologies/newspapers
· Publication of novel
· Invitations to speak to clubs

Where can I Find Competitions
Watch local publications, do an internet search for writing competitions and join local writing groups. These often run monthly writing competitions with a nominal prize. Faithwriters run a weekly writing challenge which is great fun.

If you’ve never entered a writing competition, I’d encourage you to have a go. When you look back after a few months, you’ll be able to see visible proof of how they’ve helped your writing to improve.

Debbie Roome works as a freelance writer from her home in New Zealand. Visit her at Debbie Roome or read some of her work at Suite 101 , Take Root and Write and Faithwriters.

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1 comment:

Karen Wescott said...

CALL FOR ENTRIES: 1st Annual Write of Passage Screenwriting Competition

Top scripts compete for $1,000 cash and Hollywood introductions
(producer Ralph Winter, "X-MEN Origins: Wolverine") and expert
critique from writer/producers Luke Schelhaas ("Law and Order,"
"Smallville") and Brian Bird ("Not Easily Broken").

Selected Scripts are eligible to be produced by veteran producers for
the 8th Annual 168 Film Project and may screen at the 168 Film
Festival (March 26-27, 2010).

All entries will be written in 168 Hours, based on a foundational
scripture with the theme: "Hearing God." Writing week is Oct. 19-26
Entry Deadline: Oct. 18th. Scripts are 12 pages or less.

Entry Fee: $35. Winners will be announced in November 2009. 818-557-8507,