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Top Advice For Entering Writing Competitions

TortoiseBelieve me, I know how it feels to be a writing competition addict.

You wake up with a burning urge to flip the computer on and sniff through your email to see if news of any fresh ones have surfaced.

Your mental traffic lights flash from amber to green with ideas and you find yourself people watching as you stand in the queue for the bus, scrutinising fellow passengers for their quirky mannerisms.

But what happens if your excitement gets the better of you and you upload or post your entry and fee, only to find out after the event that you forgot a crucial, silly, tiny, eenie, weenie detail that could have invalidated all of your hard work?

Arrrggghh, comes to mind!

So, what’s the magical advice?

  1. Thoroughly read through the rules page;
  2. Ensure  you fit the criteria for age and location etc;
  3. Check you have the funds to enter, as some of the big literary competitions can be incredibly expensive;
  4. Check to see whether you can finish and submit your piece by the closing date;
  5. Make a clear note of said closing date;
  6. On the same trusty notepad, write out the framework for your piece, word count, line count, colour, font etc;
  7. Get writing!

Some competitions overlook point 6 and don’t stipulate how the work should be presented. If in doubt, keep it clean, clear and simple. Format it in Times New Roman or Arial in 12pt black.

Here are a few useful don’ts worth considering.

  1. Don’t decorate the page with bizarre, unnecessary flounce;
  2. Don’t plug your business;
  3. Don’t plagiarise;
  4. Don’t use an arcane or obsolete word processor like Wordstar;
  5. Don’t skip over the proofreading stage;
  6. Don’t upload more entries than you pay for, it might invalidate them all;
  7. Don’t try to influence the judges with a paragraph of bleeding heart.

Above all, enjoy the process of writing.

onlyBreathing life into a story, poem or even a piece of flash fiction should be a pleasure and if it’s really good, it might help to launch you onto a bookshelf!

Finally, if writing competitions rock your world, be sure to take a peek at the Magic Oxygen Literary Competition for short stories and poetry. It is the only writing contest in the world that is going to plant a tree for every single entry and don’t forget, we’re also giving away a Kindle Fire for good measure!

Literarily yours,

The Team

PS: Oh and in case you were wondering what the tortoise picture is all about, he’s going to have the last word:

Get it right, do it slow!