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Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Let the Games Begin!

I write nonfiction to pay the bills...this week I wrote a press release, two blog posts on dogs, an About page for a photographer, a book review, plus I'm working on articles about organs (musical, not icky inside parts) and children's authors of Italian descent. For fun I write fiction. We won't talk about that since I worry I'm not very good. But, despite all this variety sometimes a job has me stumped. I stare at the empty screen or take endless walks with the dogs (they love my writer's block!).

I've found an interesting way to bust through the writer's block--games. Not checkers or MarioKart or even Sudoku but writing games. Contests. I usually choose a contest that is the exact opposite of what I'm writing, more or less. After all, what is the exact opposite of an article about holiday dangers for dogs? Perhaps a short story about cats during the summer?

Ironically, the fact that I don't HAVE to do this seems to spur me on. I start scribbling away, talking to the dogs, telling the kids we're ordering pizza for supper. In a day or so I have a poem, essay, or short story. Sometimes I actually enter the contest, other times I submit the result to a paying market, and of course many of the results end up gathering dust in the bottom drawer of my filing cabinet. But what's more important is what I DON'T have--writer's block.

Here are four contests I'm "holding in reserve" for next time writer's block hits. So the next time you find yourself facing a blank screen try one of my favorite games with fall/winter deadlines:

Deadline: December 1
Fee: $5
Word Count: under 750 words

Deadline: November 30
Fee: $7
Word Count: under 2000 words

Deadline: October 31
Fee: $15
Word Count: 3,000 to 12,000 words

Deadline: November 30
Fee: $10
Word Count: varies with different categories (poetry, flash fiction, children's stories, articles, inspirational, novels, memoirs, young adult)

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Blogger Jane Cleere Johnson said...

Love this post! I'll definitely try on of those contests! Winning WOW's flash fiction a few years back gave my writing a good shot in the arm!! Great advice thanks!

6:59 PM  

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