Do you have a collection of stories, maybe even a novel or two, tucked away in a dark cupboard? If so, you are not alone; many would-be writers do. It seems to be an embarrassing secret, one that cannot be revealed because as soon as you tell your best friend that you are a closet writer, he or she will demand to read your work. And that is never going to happen, is it? Because you know to your boots that your work is not good enough, even though you love it, you enjoy writing it, and you get a thrill every time you read it.
Why are we so hard on ourselves? If only we were as kind to ourselves as we are to others!
So put your writing out there for the world to see! There are many ways to do this, ways that allow you to hide for a while longer. For instance, there are many excellent writing competitions available, in your area and further afield. Start entering your stories today! Use a pseudonym, if you feel shy. Many writers prefer a pseudonym, because along with a different name comes a different persona – a braver, more confident writer who would not hesitate to walk on stage to accept a prize, who would be delighted to read an excerpt aloud for a rapt audience.
There is a chance you won’t win, or even be placed. But every time you send a story away, you are taking a step into the world of writers, you are identifying with others who love to write. And there is another excellent reason to send your stories to competitions: many competitions offer feedback, for a small fee. Always grab this opportunity, it will show you how your work was placed in relation to other entrants, and will give you excellent advice about how and where to strengthen and improve your work.
To find competitions, subscribe to your local and State writing organisations – Google them! As well as listing many competitions, they offer much support and camaraderie. For a very few dollars, you gain entry to a world of fellow-travellers, and to golden opportunities.
Select competitions that:
- ask for the sort of writing you have ready
- require a small reasonable entry fee (this covers prizes usually, rarely is it to make any profit for the organisation)
- offer feedback for an extra fee.
And read the Entry Conditions carefully. As a regular judge of competitions, I can tell you it is heartbreaking to have to discard entries simply because they failed to follow the entry conditions, especially the word length. If the rules require all work double-spaced on A4, in Times New Roman, just do it. Don’t write a letter explaining how you can only write in Comic Sans, or that you prefer hand-writing. Your entry will not even be read unless it complies with all the Entry Conditions.
Dig out your three best stories, review and polish them, and enter them into competitions. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. I wish you the best of luck and joy!