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Why you should enter more writing competitions

The Creative Future Literary Awards are open to under-represented writers in the UK until 26 June. Creative Future Director Dominique De-Light and Project Manager, Sarah Juckes, introduce the Creative Futures Literary Awards and explain why you should be entering.

What is it that stops you from entering a writing competition?

For many writers, it’s the cost of entering – either through the entry fee, or because of the time it takes to prepare and send an entry. These are very real barriers, and finding free-to-enter competitions that have a long lead time can be difficult.

Or maybe the theme doesn’t inspire you? We know from running a competition that themes are often interpreted very literally (which quickly becomes tedious for the judges). If you aren’t feeling inspired, separate yourself from the rest by thinking laterally, using the theme as a metaphor or finding an unusual way to weave it into your story – this way the set theme is far less constricting to you the writer.

Sometimes though, we don’t enter competitions because we just don’t feel that we are going to win. If the level of entries is really high, then how do we know that our work is going to be good enough?

The answer is that we don’t. You might enter a hundred competitions and get ninety-nine rejections. But then there is that one time that your work does win.

And here’s why that’s so important:

You get access prizes that you might not have access to otherwise

Whether that is a cash prize to spend on a new laptop, or writer development prizes, such as editorial feedback – winning a writing competition could give you the leg-up you need to take your skills to the next level.


An all-important confidence boost

Writing can be an isolating process. Scoring highly in a competition means that the judges read your work and saw real merit in it – and that can often be the confidence boost we need to finish a larger piece of work, or even start showing it to agents and publishers.

A kick-ass writing CV

When it comes to approaching literary agents or publishers with your work, you will often be asked to say a little about yourself as a writer. Having list of competitions you have featured in not only makes you appear as a writer who is serious about their craft, but also shows them that people like your work.

But what if I don’t win?

That’s okay. Every successful writer alive today will have experienced a rejection from a competition at some point. Although it can be disappointing, it’s important to keep going. Keep working on your writing and submitting pieces to competitions.

You never know when a writing prize might just change your life.

Sarah Juckes, CFLA Project Manager


The Creative Future Literary Awards

The Creative Future Literary Awards is a FREE national competition aimed at highlighting the talent of under-represented writers.  The twelve award winners win cash and professional development prizes. As a writer myself, I was sick of competitions where the first prize winner won a thousand pounds and the person that came second (myself on a few occasions) got a measly book token.  Our prizes just keep on giving; mentoring, lunches with publishers, publication in an anthology with established writers, online courses from the well-established Penguin Random Writers’ Academy and The Poetry School, plus others. Award winners also get to read their work at a prestigious award ceremony held as part of the Birmingham Literary Festival, hosted by award-winning poet Lemn Sissay and bestselling author, Kit de Waal.

Our aim is to bring talented under-represented writers to the attention of the literary world by providing support and professional development opportunities to nurture their writing careers. We established the Literary Awards because we were sharply aware of the lack of diversity in the literature sector, yet we knew many writers who had bag loads of talent, but no connections, or idea how to get their work out there. If people don’t see themselves represented on bookshelves, it’s easy to think the literary world isn’t for them. There are few successful role models for writers who are from the BAME or LBGTQ communities, for example. We think it’s important to change this – writing and reading is for everyone. The more diverse our literature, the more diverse will be our understanding of the world, increasingly important when  we’re all continually influenced by our social media echo-chamber.

Creative Future work with people who lack opportunities as a result of ill health, disability, identity or social circumstance.  Our competition entrants face multiple barriers, whether that be mental health issues, caring responsibilities, or dealing with physical disabilities. For example – of the twelve winners in 2016, five had never even entered a writing competition before. That’s why we have created this competition especially for under-represented writers, because we know there are great writers out there who struggle with a variety of barriers and we want to help knock those barriers down. We’ll keep fighting for change and supporting writers who are at the forefront of that change.


Creative Future Literary Awards 2017

Open to: Poetry (200 words) and short stories (300 words)

Entry fee: Free

Prizes: Over £10,000 worth of cash and writer development prizes, including mentoring via The Literary Consultancy, plus courses from Penguin Random Writers’ Academy and The Poetry School. Winners will also be published in an anthology alongside guest authors Lemn Sissay and Kit de Waal.

Closing date: 26 June 2017

Enter: Online here, in person or by post.