Let the Games Begin!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

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)


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!

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