Write From Home
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Developing a Writer's
Discipline: Using Contests
by Linda S.
Developing skills as a writer takes discipline.
The best way to do this is to set aside time each day and write or set
deadlines. However, self-imposed deadlines are easy to wiggle out of. An
alternative is to use contests. Using contest deadlines helps to develop your
discipline and writing skills.
Finding contests is as easy as browsing your
favorite writing Web sites or doing a search through a search engine like
Google. To conduct a search using
Google you'll need to enter search terms. One
that turns up the best results is "writers+contests."
Finding the contests is the easy part of being a
writer. The hard part is following through and writing that poem, essay or short
story. The possibility of winning is a great motivator. But what do you do when
your enthusiasm lessens? Keep writing. This is where discipline is needed.
Successful writers write through the rough spots. Freelance writer Peg Loudon of
Michigan says, "I was determined to enter a mystery contest, but I found out
about it rather late. It meant I had to really push myself to get the story done
worked on it every night whether I felt like it or not! There was no time to
wait for the muse or even for some energy if I was going to make the deadline."
Set a Deadline
Plan appropriately; pay attention to the contest deadline and guidelines. If
the deadline is six weeks away, schedule a four-week writing, rewriting and
polishing deadline. At this point, don't worry whether you've chosen the right
words, that's why writers revise. What's important is to get your words down in
black and white. Have your rough draft finished within the first week of
deciding to participate. Once your draft is finished let it sit a day or two.
Then start revising it. By the end of week two you should be closer to what you
want to submit. At this point, you still have time for a friend or fellow writer
to read through and offer suggestions on your submission. At the end of week
three you should have completed revisions suggested by your friend. Week four
should be for a final polishing. By setting your deadline two weeks before the
deadline, you still have time to make any last minute changes and get your entry
in on time. Once you're satisfied mail or e-mail your entry to its destination.
Mind the Details
Make sure the work you're submitting is the best you can make it. Be sure
you have followed the contest guidelines. If the guidelines aren't met the entry
won't be read. Double check that all the required contact information is
included and make sure the finished work is on topic with the contest. Minding
the details and learning to discipline yourself to write will help you meet your
deadlines and is good practice for when you make the switch to sending your work
to an editor.
Linda S. Dupie
is a freelance writer. She writes on a variety of subjects including Travel,
Kids and Family issues. Linda also publishes the award-winning Web site
Rainy Day Corner for the Writing
New to freelance writing?
this informative article.
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