Writing Rituals

Could you write a children's book in two

I always think that writing is a very individual task and I’m not just talking about the solitary side to being a writer, I’m talking about the chosen writing place, the method and the time taken to perfect! Everyone has their own way of constructing their thoughts and putting them on paper. I like to call it the writing rituals. For me, I prefer to just start writing and see where it takes me but I can never be done with it and leave it there. I can’t help myself! I have to go back and rewrite, make cuts, change words, the order of sentences; in fact this is undoubtedly the lengthiest part for me.

Up until the other week, I assumed that I was not unlike most writers in this respect as surely we have to accept that there will always be improvements to be made on the initial draft. However, having read a short article in the July edition of Writing Magazine – I am beginning to doubt this is the case! The article I refer to is about Emma Cox the winner of the New Children’s Author Prize launched by Bloomsbury and the National Literacy Trust in 2014.

So firstly, I’d genuinely like to congratulate Emma Cox as I always love hearing about new authors to the industry as it not only gives me hope and determination to get there myself but also the opportunity to read something new and original and keep up to date with what’s emerging.

However, the article was about how Emma wrote the winning entry in a mere two weeks!


I’m sitting here shaking my head in utter despair, still feeling my pain from the days of pulled out hair! How could this be? Maybe she is a speed typist or perhaps she never sleeps! No, I’m convinced she must be psychic so she knew exactly what the judges were looking for even before the competition was announced! The seeming impossibility of it is becoming overwhelming! Is this the kind of super human talent I have to compete with? For all those people out there that think writing a children’s book is easy, this particular article in Writing Magazine is not helping!

So yes I had my rant about how belittling this is to the rest of the children’s writing industry………and then I got over it and moved on!

After all, it may have simply been a passing comment to a standard question on Emma’s part so sadly she might end up regretting ever mentioning it. How many reviewers are now going to be that little bit more critical from assuming it was written in a hurry? It’s a bit like selling a priceless painting for fifty pence!

I do believe there is a certain skill to entering writing competitions. Writing to a deadline can feel pretty restricting at times. Due to my meticulous approach to writing I’ve only entered one competition so far and even then I instantly regretted it. No sooner had I submitted I spotted a spelling error and my heart sank on realising it was a million miles from my usual style of writing. I felt I’d kept it too conservative and let myself down in the rush to submit. I’ll have to put that one down to experience and good practice!

It turns out Emma is Head of English at Exeter Cathedral School so it’s likely she had many ideas dancing around in her head long before she sat down to write it and obviously has a good grasp of grammar not to mention a life-long love of reading and writing. It proves that if you want to be a good writer, keep reading!

I for one am intrigued to read Malkin Moonlight to find out for myself which aspects of her writing enchanted the judges so much.

2015 Writing Competitions for Children

2015 Writing Competitions for Children (1)

Image courtesy of tigger11th at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Last week saw the exciting announcement of the Chris Evans 2015 BBC 500 words writing competition for children (details below). So what’s the buzz all about? In the age of “don’t compare yourself to others, it’s not important what others are achieving” attitude why should we be encouraging our children to enter writing competitions?

Creative writing competitions are a fun way to encourage children to write and build upon the knowledge they have acquired through learning to read. Here are eight reasons to encourage children to enter writing competitions.

Writing competitions can consolidate their learning of how words and sentences are constructed by acting as a tool to practise their phonics, grammar, spelling, vocabulary and punctuation skills.

They can encourage them to think about the use and meaning of words on a deeper level: are they long sounding words or short sounding words, descriptive words, emotive words etc?

They can provide a lesson of how to work within boundaries by needing to consider the deadline, word count and subject matter.

Writing competitions can help hone creativity into structured thought processes helping them use their imagination effectively by putting it into a comprehensible format involving a story structure and plot.

They can improve confidence by creating a sense of achievement and purpose. Even if they don’t win they have still completed the challenge of writing the story with a purpose to enter it into a competition.

They can provide a child with a safe outlet to express their own feelings by exploring their emotions and opinions through their characters actions.

Writing competitions can develop empathy for others: how does the character feel and behave, why do they react in a certain way?

They are simply a life lesson: There is always that chance of winning. Aim high. They may not win but should always try. If they don’t win they have still gained valuable practise and experience from the process.

Here is a selection of more 2015 writing competitions for children or young adults. Some are closing in February so get those pencils moving and enjoy!

(Click title links for full terms and conditions for the individual competitions).

Iggy and Litro Young Writers’ Prize

Iggy Litro 6 Feb 15

Young Writers Out of this World Poetry Competition

YW Out of this World 13 Feb 15

Young Writers My First Acrostic Competition

YW My First Acrostic 13 Feb 15

BBC Young Writers’ Award with Booktrust 2015

BBC YW Booktrust

Chris Evans Breakfast Show 500 Words Writing Competition

Chris Evans 500 Words

Fresher Writing Wizardry Competition

Fresher Wizardry 28 Feb 15

Inkhead Short Story Competition 2015

Inkhead 1 Apr 15

National Literacy Trust Around the World with Wally

World with Wally 5 Apr 15

Wicked Young Writers Award

Wicked 17 Apr 15

Curry Mallett Children’s Short Story Competition

Curry Mallett 15 Jun 15

Laura Thomas Communications

8th International Annual Junior Authors Short Story Writing Contest

Laura Thomas 30 Jun 15

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to supply accurate competition information as at the date of this blog being published, the information supplied is intended as a summary of details and does not replace the full details of terms and conditions related to each competition. Therefore please refer to the relevant link / website (as above) for full and up to date entry requirements and terms and conditions at all times before entering any of the above mentioned competitions.