Well it was a surprise when I received this trophy at the NAWG Festival of Writing last month. During the festival there is a competition to write a mini-tale of 100 words … and it has to be exactly 100 words long. The closing date for entries is 3.15pm on the Saturday of the festival, and then the winner is announced during the festival’s gala dinner, later that evening. To make judging impartial entrants have to submit their entry using a pseudonym … and before you ask, no, I didn’t use my pornstar name (as I did last year). I was delighted to discover that my tale was judged to be the winner.
Writing competitions are useful. Not only are they a delight if you win them, but they’re great for developing your writing skills. They can stretch your creativity (and writing something of exactly 100 words certainly does that). The word count also focuses the mind when it comes to editing, because you know it’s vital you don’t submit an entry with more words than the rules allow. And the deadline gives you something to aim for.
More importantly, in my opinion, is that even if you don’t win the competition has forced you to create something new. I’ve often gone on to sell a story, or an article, that started off as a competition entry, which failed to win. Once you’ve created something you have a piece of work that you can adapt, edit and send off.
So, the next time you see a writing competition, don’t just think about the opportunity of winning a shiny trophy, or a cash prize. Think of it as an opportunity to create something new.