As I've had the house to myself today, I've been writing.
It's been a bit chaotic recently with the boys going out for their exams, coming home at times they'd have normally been in lessons; then the Jubilee celebrations and the plumbing disaster at the weekend, so writing has taken a back seat and nothing has been done since I sent my short story off.
So today I began my entry for the 2012 Mary Street Memorial Shield competition for Romantic Novelist of the Year.
(See my success in 2011's competition here.)
I'm using my first incomplete novel that I began in 1998 and gave up on in 1999 at 40,000 words. I've always intended to go back to it one day and rewrite it, and as it's been on my mind recently I decided to use it for this year's competition.
(Somewhere in a box are those original 40,000 words and all my research notes, but I can't think where they were put. So I'm hoping they'll turn up while I'm sorting all my packed boxes out.)
It will then go into my queue of future novels, and all the relevant bits currently turning about in my conscious brain will be written and out of the way while I get on with my novella and the novel.
(In fact my Dorset novel started interfering in this Coaching Town novel all those years ago.)
Competitions are a great way to improve your writing skills, and there are a lot of free ones available if you look for them.
If you belong to a writing group then you'll usually have opportunities to enter different types of writing competition and you may find there's something you have an infinity for.
Even if you don't find it hooks you, you'll still be using your writing skills and developing your style.
A few years ago (2009) I entered the NWC annual drama award for a short play- I've acted in plays, and seen lots of plays, but never tried to write one. So I decided to go for it.
The maximum length was 15 minutes, two main characters- strangers- meet and engage in conversation on a bench outdoors, and a third minor character was allowed. With the added comment that a twist ending would be appreciated. (It was being judged by a local scriptwriter.)
I managed a 12 minute piece, and although it wasn't technically perfect I'd fulfilled the requirements of the theme; it had amusing elements, plus I'd managed the twist end which I was satisfied with.
And I won that one. But I decided not to take up play writing.
This year I've agreed to set and judge the drama competition. I had to choose the criteria for the type of drama setting-studio; and I wanted it to be simple but challenging at the same time so potential entrants wouldn't be put off from trying it, but they would still need to use their writing skills to make it work. (I would have revealed what I set, but the competition details won't be out for a couple of weeks yet.)
I'm really looking forward to seeing what the club members who enter (using a pseudonym), produce...
Do you enter competition? Do you feel entering competitions has helped your writing?