If you want to make 2015 the year in which your words make it into print, either for the first time or as a follow up to earlier publishing success, there are two ways to do it. One would be to take time out to focus on your writing with a retreat week. What better way to kick start some new writing or knock a work in progress into good shape? The other is to put your writing ‘out there’ through competitions and smaller publications such as magazines and journals.
For some the idea of ‘getting published’ is a huge idea; potentially as daunting as running a mile or climbing a steep cliff from a standing start. But it does not have to be that difficult. If you have aspirations to publish, agents and publishers will look on your words with interest if you can show a track record of publication in smaller places. After all, if someone else has already considered your writing strong enough to put in print, why not others too?
The hunt for appropriate competitions and publications can begin with Google, in the listings sections of magazines such as Mslexia and Writing Magazine and in your local library or arts centre where local competitions are often promoted. Rather than submit at random, it is worth doing some research and selecting those that are a good fit for your style and themes. Many competitions for short fiction, life writing and poetry are themed or have a topic set by the judges. You can write to their brief, effectively, or select something from your portfolio that marries with their interest.
Read the rubric with care. The organisers of competitions will stipulate length, format, whether or not to put your name on each page, and even the font and font size. If you fail to give them what they want in the style they specify you may not make it out of the judges’ inbox.
Check out the judges, who will often be experienced writers or editors. Look for those whose work you admire and enjoy, or in whose genre you are working. If they offer a critique service for a small fee, it can be worth submitting your work for that alone, whether or not you win.
Finally, the process of submitting your work will prepare you for the experience of receiving a rejection letter or – frequently the case – hearing nothing once the deadline has passed. Be ready to send your work out again. Each month brings more opportunities and if you can have the large brown envelope ready to send out to the next on your list, or the email with attachments ready to hit ‘send’, you will be entering the world of the seasoned writer, quietly building resilience and increasing your chances of eventual success.
The writing must be your best but if you don’t get it ‘out there’ how will you ever know if you are on to a winner?
Make 2015 the year your writing leaves your own house and makes its way in the world.