The Festival’s eleven writing competitions are now open for entries. It’s an exciting time for us in the office, wondering about the magic soon to land in our submissions box. Every single entry represents the writer’s brave leap, sending new work out into the world to have it read, critiqued and judged.
If I had my way, the act of pressing ‘send’ would trigger a round of applause, along with champagne, flowers and a mini-break to somewhere warm and sunny. However, if the mere thought of submission brings you out in a cold sweat, here are a few nudges…
Hone your craft
Don’t save competitions for the ‘main event’, ie when your novel is finished, or when your screenplay is complete. Many writing competitions involve submitting shorter pieces – a poem, a short story or a themed piece. They are like writing exercises – they stretch unfamiliar muscles and keep us in training. Use them as an opportunity to practise and hone your writing skills.
Step outside your comfort zone
Never tried flash fiction? How about writing crime? Could you pitch a TV drama? Competitions are a great way to experiment and try something new. Invent. Play. Challenge yourself!
Gain vital feedback
Many (not all) of the Festival competitions offer the opportunity to gain written feedback on every submission. The adjudicators are highly experienced, and their feedback, while one person’s opinion, is considered, constructive, informed and impartial. Learn from it. Write better. Every writer needs this!
What if you are shortlisted? What if you win? Yikes – now you have something to shout about. Put it in your query letter or your writing CV. Add it to your Twitter by-line. Editors and agents take notice of competition success. Also bear in mind that many of the Festival competition prizes are designed to further your writing, either by providing consultations with agents and editors, or via courses and pitching events.
So go on, dare to leap and enter a competition. Who knows where it will lead you?
For full details of all eleven Festival Writing Competitions, including our brand new ‘Skylark Soaring Stories’ competition for writers of middle grade and YA fiction, sponsored and judged by Skylark Literary, see our Competitions page.