Check out some books by your tutor Fiona Veitch Smith … (click on the book covers to find out more)
In this final session in The Crafty Writer’s online creative writing course, I would like to leave you with some advice on how to develop your writing further. If you’re so inclined, you can join a writers’ group (for UK groups; for US and international groups) or an online critiquing group (for poetry and short stories). Be warned though, you may have to ‘shop around’ as many of these groups are filled with people who will just nod and smile and not give you constructive advice. Sometimes, you may have to pay for a professional critique to ensure you get a truly objective and constructive perspective.
Writing as a hobby
Even if you have no interest in earning money from your writing and simply do it for pleasure, it’s good to try and get some of your work published. This will give you a deadline to work towards and the added incentive to develop your writing to the best it can be.
Competitions are excellent ways to develop your writing. If you get somewhere, you will be greatly encouraged that someone else thinks you have some ability. Some competitions offer critiques as prizes, which are invaluable, and if you’re lucky, even if you don’t win, one of the judges might offer you some advice. Beware though, many of these competitions ask for an administration fee. You need to decide whether it’s a legitimate fee or just a money-making enterprise. I would be loathe to pay more than £5. Competitions also give you a deadline and a reason to finally finish that masterpiece you started three years ago!
The Vanity Trap
Beware of competitions that are simply fronts for vanity publishing projects. These are particularly rife in the poetry world, where all ‘winners’ are included in a special bound volume which you have to buy (albeit at a supposedly discounted rate). I must confess I once succumbed to this, believing my poem actually had some merit, only to discover that every poet in my newsroom had also been accepted – and some of their creations were pretty dire. Even worse, one of my colleagues who was short of cash, told the competition organisers that she was happy to have her poem included in the anthology but she couldn’t afford to buy one. Not surprisingly, her poem was suddenly excluded.
Here are a selection of poetry competitions you may wish to enter.
- The Poetry Kit – an extensive list of international poetry competitions.
- Fellows’ Poetry Prize – £1000! Run by the English Association at the Univeristy of Leicester.
- International Haiku Competition – can you say it in three lines?
- International Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize – first prize £1,750 or $3,000 US.
- Women’s Weekly Fiction Series – accepting ongoing poetry submissions; £10 fee (they pay you!) Mark your submission for the ‘Poetry Page’.
- Plough Poetry Prize -
- Buxton Poetry Competition
- Writers’ News and Writing Magazine run poetry competitions all year round.
Short Story Competitions
- Save The Short Story – a comprehensive list of short story competitions and awards. The Save the Short Story Campaign is doing a stirling job raising the profile of the genre, and the website itself is well worth a visit.
- Writers’ News and Writing Magazine run short story competitions all year round.
- African Writers’ Prize – for writers who were born in Africa or with parents who are African or who are nationals of an African country and their writing reflects an African sensibility.
- Willesden Herald International Short Story Competition – first prize £5000, judged by Zadie Smith.
Go through the competitions listed about and choose one. Commit yourself to writing something to send off. If you don’t try, you’ll never know.
After a bit of success in the competition world (or even without it if you’re brimming with confidence) you may want to actually earn a bit of money from your writing. But don’t be under the illusion that you will be able to live off the proceeds; most writers earn less than the designated British minimum wage – so don’t give up the day job yet!
Magazines that publish short stories
- The Short Story Website – an extensive list of magazines that publish short stories from the people behind Save the Short Story Campaign.
Magazines that publish poetry
- The Poetry Kit – thanks to this fabulous resource listing magazines from around the world that publish poetry, I have no need to re-invent the wheel.
If this course gave you a taste for writing and you would like a bit more input, why not sign up for one of these courses below:
- Non-fiction writing course – another superb free online course brought to you by The Crafty Writer!
- Email College – offers free writing courses delivered to your in-box.
- The Arvon Foundation – highly respected residential short courses based in the UK.
- The Open University – offer short 10 week correspondence courses, mostly completed online. You will have the benefit of being able to communicate with other students in online conferences and workshops.
Don’t forget to check out the Crafty Writer Bookshop for writing guides. Market reviews such as the Writer’s Market and The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook also have short story and poetry courses and competition info.
Well, that brings us to the end of our journey together (sniff!). I hope you’ve enjoyed this creative writing course as much as I have. It’s been a delight getting to know some of you and I hope you will continue to visit. Please drop me a line if you would like an in-depth critique of your work. But if you don’t have any cash right now, don’t worry, there’ll always be free info and friendship at The Crafty Writer. Adieu!