There are lots of writing competitions out there for short stories, and unpublished novels, etc, often with an entry fee. They are well worth entering and any success that may come with them will really add to your writing CV.
I love entering competitions to the point I’d class it as my biggest hobby and I’m not just talking about writing competitions, I’m on about all sorts. I can pinpoint the exact moment I found out filling out forms and entering was really worthwhile. It was back in 2007 when we went to a wedding fair. At a budget talk they mentioned trying to win wedding prizes to try and save money. I went home, looked up wedding competitions and came across a website that linked to prize draws. I spent a few evenings entering. Six weeks later, I had a phone call, which to this day, I’m still stunned by. First the radio station rang to check I was available to answer the phone and reminded me I’d entered to win a holiday to Australia, and that could I wait by the phone because they would ring me back within ten minutes to let me know if I’d won! When they did ring, I was so sure they would ask me a question which I would get wrong, I was stunned into silence when they told me I was off to see Gwen Stefani in concert in Sydney. (Silence: Not the greatest sound on radio!) That was the first of many great experiences entering competitions has bought me. For that particular competition, I had to tell them why I should win so it involved a small amount of writing effort.
It was later on I found out any competition involving any kind of effort, be it writing, photography or creative effort, it will attract less entries. So even if they may not bring the same accolades as winning a short story competition, as they don’t have an entry fee, I enter competitions that require some writing effort and I’ve won some amazing prizes as a result.
The top one has to be a car. Yes, you read that right, A CAR! Now this was slightly unusual in that it required you purchased a car in order to go into the prize draw and then you needed to write 150 words as to why you liked that brand of car. We’d upgraded our car when I found out about the competition, and as it required effort, I pushed the boat out and wrote a poem. When the garage called me to say I’d won, I did remember to scream (not too loudly) about it this time!
Of course not all prizes are that big, but even a smaller win can be a real boost. Back in July last year, I was in hospital for two weeks after the birth of the twins and I received an email letting me know I was the runner up in a princess for the day competition. The main prize had been a £500 shopping spree in London, on a specific date, and if I’d won that I would have had to turn it down. The runner-up prize was perfect as it was £50 worth of Palmer’s goodies and as I was rather run down at that point it was a wonderful pick me up. And it all came about because I’d taken the time to write in about how Catherine Miller’s and Catherine Middleton’s pregnancies had differed, and that all mum’s needed to be treated like a princess.
I haven’t updated my writing CV in a while, but when I do it will include being a mum to twins and winning a car with a poem. Perhaps not traditional items to have on your CV, but certainly talking points. So when you next enter writing competitions, don’t forget to consider non-conventional writing effort required competitions as well. You never know what you might win, and if you twist my arm enough, I’ll share my secrets about how to find out about them.