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Racontesse Musings… Writing competitions

Stupid competitions! I’ll never win. But don’t listen to the poisonous parrot.

You don't need to win a writing competition to get something out of it. Entering a competition is akin to readying the troops for war. Resources, supply line and strategy all have to be meticulously thought out and planned.

Firstly, the competition criteria requires assessment. If the competition has a theme then the likelihood of having anything already suitable is exceptionally unlikely. For example, in these times of lockdown, some of the smaller competitions are asking for stories about community and compassion. This isn't my bag at all. I'm never going be able to write something that fits this brief. It just isn't interesting to me.

Secondly, which categories are available; flash fiction, short story, life writing or novel. This should be straightforward but different competitions tend to ask for varying word counts. Flash fiction for example has a wide definition. For some competitions a piece of flash fiction is considered anything under 300 words, for some 250 and for others under a thousand. Again, it is unlikely to have anything immediately available at the right word count to enter straight away.

Cost is a huge factor. Obviously, the bigger the competition the more it costs to enter. I entered the Bridport Prize and ended up spending £54 on fees. Ouch! It's a lot of money and if you're doing that a few times throughout the year it can get pretty expensive.

When planning, I take on the role of Major General. I decide well in advance which competitions I'm going to enter. I make sure I understand the entry requirement and rules – I commit these to memory so I don't get any nasty surprises. I budget and plan my entry strategy for the coming months. Having chosen which categories I want to submit to, I write accordingly. Winning isn't the point. It's the discipline to write following external rules and deadlines. It's great writing practice and keeps my writing fresh.

I may lose the battle, but I will win the war. I have kept on writing and after time I realise I have a fabulous body of work. Well done me!

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