Hey! How are you doing? And more importantly, how are your writing projects going his month?
Me? I just entered a story I’ve written into the NAWG Members competition. What’s NAWG? It’s the National Association of Writers Groups – a UK wide group of which my writing group is a member – and something I always say to people who want to write is, if you’re not in a writing group, join one! My group have been bloody brilliant during the last 12 years or so that I’ve been a member. Most of us like to enter the NAWG competition every year as it’s free for members (if you aren’t a group member, you can join as an individual, but it’s probably not as much fun). As a group, we’ve won quite a few prizes over the years, I was shortlisted in the SciFi category a few years back. I framed the certificate and hung it on my wall to remind myself that I CAN WRITE! Which is kind of the second point I want to make with this rambling blog post: Entering writing competitions is a fabulous way to get some sort of external validation that your writing is actually pretty good. Even getting shortlisted was a buzz for me! It can also be a good exercise in polishing and editing your work too.
This year our group decided to enter the group anthology section and we each wrote a few stories to be entered as a collection on the theme of ‘Chance’. One of the stories I wrote was about a horse riding accident that I was involved in last year. My dear friend and her very special horse had the accident, I was the one that went for help. There seemed to be a lot of coincidences at play that evening and it was also my choice to take the fateful route we chose, where the path collapsed underneath them. I thought it was a fitting choice for the topic. However my writing group had other ideas. they suggested that I enter it into the individual ‘memoir section’ of the competition instead as it had made a few of them cry on reading it (at this point I hoped they weren’t crying because it was too bad to go in the anthology 😂). The only problem here was that the memoir entries had to be 1,500 words long and the piece I wrote was about 2,700. So this week I had to do some serious whittling! I don’t think I have ever edited anything so severely, but in the end it made for a much more powerful, punchy piece of writing (I hope!). If you read last month’s blog post you’ll know I’m a bit of a busy bee these days so the fact that I managed to write anything at all was quite an achievement, I then had to multitask at the eleventh hour before the submission deadline, simultaneously cooking tea for the kids whilst tapping away on my keyboard. If I hadn’t been
nagged encouraged by my writing group I probably wouldn’t have done it at all – but I was so glad I did! Writing about the accident was certainly cathartic and a good way to process what happened and find some peace with it all. Here’s a picture of me and my friend Abi and her two gorgeous horses.
Join a writing group
Back to the point. If you’re not in a writing group. Find one – if you don’t like the writing group you’re in or you’ve had a bad experience in the past, join a different one, or start your own. NAWG has a list of writing groups by area on their website. (It’s a bit convoluted, they are arranged by area, click on ‘contact one of these groups’ and it will open a pdf with contact details for each group). You may also find details of other local non-NAWG groups in your local library or online. If you’d like some help finding a group local to you, please comment below and I’ll see if I can help. Likewise if you want to recommend a group, let us know below!
Enter a competition
Go on, be brave! Some competitions have some pretty good prize money! Here’s a list of competitions you can enter this April, arranged by deadline. You may have already written something you can enter and some of these prizes – particularly the Bath Short Story Award – are rather prestigious and could convince an agent or publisher that you’re worth taking on:
- 11th April: Bath Short Story Award 2022 – Entry Fee: £9 Max. Word Count: 2,200 Top Prize: £1,200 Enter
- 12th April: The Cats Flash Competition – Entry Fee: $5 Max. Word Count: 500 Top Prize: $100 Enter
- 19th April: Brick Lane Bookshop Short Story Prize – Entry Fee: £10 Max. Word Count: 5,000 Top Prize: £1,000 and publication Enter
- 24th April: Science-me a story (Scientific stories for children) – Entry is FREE Max. Word Count: 1,700 Top Prize: £200 and publication Enter
- 30th April: Tadpole Press 100 Word Writing Contest – Entry Fee: $10 Word Count: 100 Top Prize: $1,000 Enter
- 30th April: Cranked Anvil Short Story Competition – Entry Fee: £5 Max. Word Count: 1,500 Top Prize: £150 and publication Enter
There are writing competitions for every kind of writing, novels, plays, short stories and memoirs so if you have already written something that you’re particularly proud of have a quick google and see if you can enter it somewhere! In the meantime I’ll keep posting competitions here every month too.
My writing group have been excellent at encouraging me and holding me accountable – and the competition gave me a brief and a deadline. If you’re craving a bit more structure and support with your writing, come and share what you’re doing with us by checking in under our blog post here every Friday. What have you achieved this week? Are you going to enter any of the competitions I’ve mentioned? If so, do let us know how you get on! And of course I’ll let you know what happened with my story ‘After Midsummer’ and our anthology when the results are announced lated this year! Fingers crossed.