Doing the Writer’s Happy Dance
Last week I had an occasion to indulge in the Writer’s Happy Dance.
Well – I didn’t actually do a proper dance – more of a geriatric gyration. With lots of clicks and groans in my ancient bones.
The reason for this joyous occasion was a notification that one of my stories has been accepted for publication in an anthology. It also means that I am in the running to win a prize in a writing competition. The competition was jointly run by Radio 1079 Life (Life FM) and Tabor College. Tabor was where I did my Masters Degree in Creative Writing; I can highly recommend their creative writing programme which can be studied externally.
The competition is called “Stories of Life” and are based on true-life experiences and must contain some element of one’s Christian faith. I initially found it challenging to come up with a viable story concept, but once I started, the words flowed easily. I must admit that I put myself under a little pressure, leaving my submission to the very last day and posting it the website at 11:35 pm, just 25 minutes before the closing time of midnight. I always say that I shouldn’t put myself under so much stress, but it happens far too often.
The story I wrote was based on one of my experiences while travelling in Nepal about ten years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed my holiday in Nepal and vividly remember many of my amazing experiences. You can read some my experiences here.
Submitting stories and poems to competitions is an excellent way of improving your writing skills. I must admit that I don’t do this nearly often enough. By pitting one’s writing against other writers, you get to hone your writing, editing and proofreading skills. Some competitions even give feedback from the judges. This helps you to further improve your writing until you regularly get listed in the short list or get a commendation from the judges. Winning some prize money is wonderful, of course, but this should never be the prime reason for entering. A prize is a lovely bonus. Constantly improving your writing should be your main aim.
When writing for a competition follow these simple hints:
- Write the very best story you can.
- Rewrite, edit and proofread the story until it sparkles. Or grabs the readers’ throats.
- Read – and reread – the rules set out by the organisers.
- Stay within the word limits, not too short and never over the maximum word count.
- Read your story out aloud, or get someone else to read it – this will help you to find typos and errors in grammar.
- Submit before the due date.
The same rules apply to poetry, except that the organisers usually stipulate the maximum length and sometimes the theme. A few years ago I was delighted to actually win a national poetry competition. I not only did the Writer’s Happy Dance, I think I also gave a yell of delight. The prize money was a wonderful bonus, too. I can now put “Award-winning poet” on my resume – how cool is that? You can read some of my poetry here.
A personal goal
As I said above, I don’t enter nearly enough competitions. I have hundreds of suitable poems and dozens of good stories ready to go. It is one of those things I always intend to do, but I need to enter far more regularly. I do have this as one of the goals for this year, but I am a long way off reaching my goal.