Words shape our Worlds – Adventures in Writing

Janice K Jones


Competitions for writers

Have you tried entering writing competitions? Some writers shrink with horror at the idea – to submit work online feels so exposing, ‘risky’, and we rarely feel apiece of work is ‘finished’.

So, I’ve realised now that writing is like any work of art. It is never ‘finished’ – and we don’t ever feel satisfied (it could be better)…but as all those feelings of vulnerability emerge there’s a choice: ‘send’ anyway? or wait…it might improve with polish.

Just press ‘Send’

Be brave, foolhardy, and take the step.

Gains? – Often there is plenty of encouraging feedback from peers in the field. Hooray!

Losses? Rarely with smaller non-paying publications, and much more often in writing competitions with money prizes you will receive a standard ‘not this time’ email.

My experience? Had never written a play in my life. No training in creative writing but saw The Queensland Playywright’s Award advertised. The prize was some amount of money but the big bonus was that the winning work would be workshopped and taken to the stage. Wow!! A week to go. I wrote the first act, and outlined the ending. It was a preposterous play…in rhyme -think a funny/vulgar and very dodgy Iliad-style work!


A wonderful letter telling me I hadn’t made it BUT had been in the shortlisted group and came close to getting into the ‘chosen three’. I thought it was maybe just a kind letter – but friends who knew the highly respected author/judge told me “Oh no.. he’d give you the true picture. That’s really something!”

So what?

Watch Twitter and Instagram (even if you hate social media) and give positive and genuine feedback on others’ competition entries. These online fora are the way to get started – the publishers mainly work online but also produce small print runs. They often give genuine and sensitive feedback. And – you have a high chance of getting your work published. Be friendly, thank people, and support other writers. We all need the praise and encouragement. Soon you will be ‘known’.

Plan ahead for the big competitions. Mostly, entrants have had a few years of publishing behind them – that experience shows in their crafting and style (although identities are hidden).

Take Risks!

So…this week I am entering a competition for a cover design for Red Ogre Review: https://redogrereview.submittable.com/submit

I’m not a graphic designer but…its exciting, and who knows, they may love my idea! As you can see – the excitement of having work accepted is contagious! Read others work, comment and be supportive – we help each other up.

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About Me

I am a writer and artist of Celtic background who has worked as an educator and writer in the arts in the UK, Canada, Turkey, Korea, and Australia. I taught, researched and published academic works in the arts during an academic career at University of Southern Queensland. Now in the beautiful north Brisbane area (Kau-in-Kau-in or blood-blood, for the red cliffs of these coastal lands of the Ningy Ningy people of Queensland, I have returned to study Creative Writing with Queensland University of Technology at Brisbane.

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