Another post from Taryn Bashford, SCBWI Qld member.
Do you face this dilemma? Trying to get novels published and spending too much spare time wondering if one should enter competitions? Is this a useful way to spend one’s writing time or is it a hurdle to distract from writing a new novel? Another delaying tactic?
I’m aware how writers can get lost and take refuge in research for their books and delay actually writing the novel itself. Yet everyone says if you win a competition it’s great to add to your CV; yet it distracts me from writing my novel – and so the vicious circle develops.
Having recently come to my own conclusion about this question, I thought I’d share it with you.
I decided to enter a few competitions and so spent some time letting my mind wander and hover over new story ideas and concepts, new characters and their friends, new beginnings and new endings. It became a great way to exercise the imagination, to flex that writing muscle in the brain and free my mind to write something that wasn’t going to become a year-long project. I was able to experiment, play with tenses, with dialogue and different endings without the worry that if I did a re-write, there were 30,000 words or more to go through. This ability to freely experiment was of benefit to me as I have learnt which styles work for me.
The most surprising benefit, though, was it lead to a concept for my next novel. As I was writing and formulating the characters and plot for a 4,000 word short story competition, my mind grabbed the idea and ran away with it. I couldn’t stop it flying off on different tangents, collecting new chapters, new characters, new tension and climaxing moments and suddenly I had a whole YA novel in my head itching to be written.
So I entered the competition but whilst I await the results I have a whole new novel to write.