Are you Competitive?
Why we all need to be contestants
When I started my M.A in Creative Writing, as a mature student, I was very worried that my fellow students would be competitive. For some reason, I decided everyone would be vying for top dog in the writing stakes. I couldn’t have been more wrong! People were supportive, kind and generous. I’ve found that to be the case with the writing fraternity ever since. Writing – and getting published – is hard enough without us making things difficult for each other. Some of the nicest people I’ve ever met are writers and the support networks they offer are often superb.
However, although we are not competitive per se, I do think there is an area where we can contend, if only with ourselves, and that’s in writing competitions. Entering competitions helps give us a focus, something to polish our work for, and an opportunity to add to our writing C.V’s. If we get placed, or even win, it’s a tremendous confidence booster. If we aren’t successful initially, then looking carefully at the winners’ work will help us to see how we can improve our own writing – perhaps enabling us to be successful next time. Most entry fees are reasonable and for a little more money you can often buy into a critiquing service, another good way to test the water as it were. And if we’ve suffered a chain of rejections from agents, then being placed in a writing competition can be great for morale. And often it’s those successes that can bring our work to the attention of those very agents we are trying to attract.
Competitions are often advertised in writing magazines and websites. It’s helpful to make a list of ones for which we are eligible and to put the deadlines in the calendar. Everyone has to start somewhere – and as success often breeds success, who knows where entering a competition might end!