Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Seven reasons why you should put yourself out there

If you want to be taken seriously as a writer you must submit your writing to competitions, literary magazines and journals, and online publishing sites. I can't stress this enough. 

  1. You need to make yourself known. The sooner and more often your name appears on shortlists, runners-up lists, and general announcements, the better. Oh, look it's her again. I wonder what she writes? I wonder if she has a website where I can read her work?
  2. You’ve got nothing to lose. Seriously. You don't believe me? Okay, what are the worst things that can happen? You receive a rejection letter. You don't win. You don't come second. You aren't even short-listed. Get used to it. 
  3. You need to develop. You can't grow as a writer if you don't read the writing that's winning competitions and being published. 
  4. You can’t flourish in the dark. Once upon a time you could write a novel (preferably while you were lonely and starving and in a garret) and become enormously famous. Those days are over. Now you have to push yourself into the limelight, make yourself known in writing circles, blog if possible, get a domain name and publish your work. Twitter? Maybe. In my opinion Twitter should only be used by people who think before they speak, otherwise you risk doing yourself and your reputation irreparable harm.
  5. You need to grow a thick skin. See 2 above. Getting rejection letters and not winning competitions is part of a writer's life. Okay, I know it's hard. I've been writing since before some of you were born, and I still hurt when I'm rejected. Only nowadays I get over it pretty quickly. Sometimes it isn't the quality of your writing, but that your topic or style doesn't suit the publication you've submitted to. If you're submitting to online journals you should always research what kind of work they publish. 
  6. You might do okay in a competition. You might be short-listed. Or be a runner-up. Or you might receive a letter from a literary mag that says, Sorry, not this time, but we love your stuff. What a thrill that would be. What a boost to your self-confidence.
  7. You might do very well. You might win. Hooley dooley. Congratulations!  The bottom line: believe in yourself and in your writing. 
A couple of tips: 
  • Don't submit your work until someone else -- preferably another writer, ideally two writers -- has read it and critiqued it, and you've taken his/her suggestions on board;
  • Don't submit until the night before the comp closes. That way you'll avoid entering and then realising you want to change something, or some word/phrase/punctuation wasn't quite right.

Some competitions closing in the next few weeks:

Short story for Overland Story wine prize. Any topic, but IMO stories to do with wine will have the edge. Entries must be under 1000 words. See
Short story for page seventeen. Any topic. Entries must be under 3000 words. See 
Short story for Society of Women Writers. Entries must be under 1500 words. See 

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