Get Writing!

Ahem, this is an order to myself as much as you, dear Reader. I’ve been away for a couple of days and I’ve come back all ‘unsettled’. I can’t seem to work up the enthusiasm to write anything.

In fact, all I’ve done today is surf the net (the wonders of Facebook and Ebay!) and pick a pound of blackberries from the hedgerows in a field (ah, so relaxing – although I was a little worried about an axe murderer coming round the corner as it was all a bit isolated and my mobile was at the bottom of my rucksack – but it was fine). The next part of my detailed procrastination plan is, of course, to make a blackberry & apple crumble!

Right, so I’ve found 3 writing opportunities that, hopefully, are going to get my writing juices flowing again and one – or all – of which might also appeal to you:

Mills & Boon – New Voices

Let’s start with a bit of romance (and that is my excuse for the photo of the lovely Mr Gary Barlow – a man who has truly grown into his looks and proof that, even if you were the boring, chubby one when you were young, you too can be the gorgeous, desirable one when you are older).

If I were to write a M&B book, I would base my hero on him. I particularly like the way he has gone from ‘Mr Nice Guy’ to Mr ‘You’ve-got-no-talent-gerroff-the-stage!’ in X-factor this year, obviously because the producers wanted a bit of a Simon Cowell replacement BUT whatever the reason, I like it!!! (sorry, I will shut up about X-Factor now. Was supposed to have given it up this year but I think it’s too late…)

Now, where were we? Mills & Boon are running their ‘New Voices’ competition again, in the hope of finding new talent out there.

Last year, which was the first time they’d run it, there was quite a lot of debate about the rights and wrongs of the format, as it involved wannabee-Mills & Boon writers posting their entries on the website to be read and commented on by ‘random reviewers’ (ie: whoever happened to be passing by and wanted to put in their two pennyworth!).

Needless to say, it all got a bit ‘nasty’, with some rather harsh reviewing and accusations of tactical voting and ‘stealing ideas’. You can read more about it here on Sally Quillers blog if you’re intrigued. Mills & Boon obviously didn’t have a problem with it because the format for this year appears to be the same. They probably liked all the extra publicity – and let’s face it, it did give the competition a bit of an ‘edge’!

They’ve already had 65 entries – (you have to submit the first chapter of your romantic novel) and the competition only started on 13th September – so there are clearly a lot of people out there who want to write for M&B! And why not? I know some people can get very ‘sniffy’ about it but I can think of worse ways of earning a living*! If nothing else, you’ll get some (free) feedback on your writing, so why not give it a go?! (But be prepared for the possibility of some comments that STING!). Deadline for this first phase of the competition is 10th October 2011.

*I heard on the grapevine that the best-selling M&B writers – ie: not those just starting out but the well-known names, who have fans waiting for their next book and their own websites, etc – people like Kate Walker – can expect to earn £20,000 per book and they’re writing 3 or 4 a year. “You do the math!”, as they say (urgh, I hate that expression, don’t you?!)

Mail on Sunday – start of a novel competition

I entered this last year but the results have just been published and I didn’t win. Shame. There are details of how to enter this year’s competition (it’s free and the prizes are good!) on womag’s blog here.

In an nutshell, you have to write the start of a novel (50 – 150 words) and your piece must contain the word ‘row’ – in any form.

– write for them*!

Stylist magazine is celebrating its 100th issue by involving readers in writing it (don’t think there’s any payment involved but it would look good on your writing CV and boost your confidence if your piece was picked. I’m sure competition will be fierce, by the way).

Now before everyone gets too excited – you have to be what they call an ‘amateur writer’ (see below), so if you’ve been published then you can’t enter – which is probably fair enough. If that doesn’t apply to you, then read on:

Have you ever dreamt of having something you’ve written published in a magazine read by hundreds of thousands of people every week?

The magazine are asking you to ‘pitch’ your article idea in no more than 200 words and there are 4 topics to choose from: ‘Talking point’, ‘Memoir’, ‘Investigative report’ or ‘Practical Guide’. Bear in mind that if they like your pitch, you’ll be expected to actually write the thing!!

You can pitch just one, or all of them, if you like. There are more details here on the site.

*You must be an amateur writer. They ‘cannot accept a pitch from anyone whose work has been published in the mainstream consumer press.’

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12 Responses to Get Writing!

  1. Quillers says:

    Hi Helen, thanks for the link. Things got quite a bit stressed last year, hence me steering clear this year!

    And I’m with you on Gary Barlow. When did he get to be so sexy? And those eyes. I also think that even though he’s honest on X-Factor, he’s not quite as snarky about it as Simon Cowell. He’s more down to earth honest.

  2. Hi Helen, you’ve been busy putting all that information together. You should be editor of a writing magazine. I watched x.factor avidly last year, loved it; then a local lad who has so much talent it’s unbelievable was entered by his sister this year. He’s so modest, but he went and they gave him two minutes and dismissed him. He sings like a cross between Mika, Leo Sayer and early Marc Bolan. For me, it’s all about looks, absurdity and sexual image. I sound prudish, but it’s so fake it’s unreal. Even Elton thinks that and he can talk. This lad is so good he will be well known one day. His stage name is ‘Nathan Vain’ he writes his own material and is the next big thing. Will stop ranting now and plan my romantic opening chapter. Thanks for all this information. Talk soon.

    • Susan I know what you mean about X-factor. They are definitely looking for a ‘type’ – and it’s not always the most talented, but those that will bring in the most viewers and earn the most advertising income for the show. I like the auditions but once it gets to the show stages it all seems like a fix these days – this is why we swore (last year!) that we wouldn’t watch it again! But we’ll see… sometimes it’s nice just to relax in front of the tele’ on a Saturday night. It’s about the only time that I do! (I will look out for Nathan in the future!)

  3. I was adamant I wouldn’t be watching X factor again, but then they changed the judges… oh well, at least there are fewer sob stories this year.

    I keep looking at that Mills and Boon competition, but it scares me a little bit 🙂

    • Sarah – scares me too, to be honest. I was toying with the idea of trying to enter but I think you’ve got to be a dedicated M&B fan, to really understand the market, and as I’m not – and don’t – it would probably just be a waste of time. I’ll leave it to the experts!

  4. Helen says:

    The start of a novel competition sounds interesting – and deceptively simple! No doubt they must get hundreds, if not thousands of entries. Still, might give it a go. Someone’s got to win…

    The Mills & Boon competition seems very popular. These books tend to get laughed about a lot, but I’m sure they are really difficult to write – must be hard to create something so unashamedly romantic, without resorting to cliché. Not sure I could manage it. Like you say though, there are worse ways to make a living.

    • Helen
      If you click on the link to Womag’s site, she’s printed the winning entry from last year’s Mail on Sunday Start of a Novel competition and you’ll see that, although it’s good, it’s not (in my humble opinion!) AMAZING – so that gives us all hope, I think! Definitely worth a go, as not many writing competitions are free to enter these days and the prizes are great!

  5. Stephanie Holliday says:

    I find that I either write like mad for days and days and can’t seem to contain all the ideas I’ve got or I just can’t write anything. I can’t force it and just have to wait for inspiration again. The only thing I can do is let myself off a bit and then sneak up on it by pretending I’m not looking for inspiration just browsing books, the internet, magazines etc.
    I’ve started keeping a notebook with ideas that occur to me or things I hear. Perhaps looking through this when I have a ‘fallow’ time will help.
    The writing class starts again next week. I’m looking forward to it – its a good way to get going again.
    Hope you get your mojo back soon and thanks for the ideas. They inspire me.

    • Thanks Stephanie – I’m glad it’s not just me! Trouble is, when I don’t write, I feel guilty! Which is stupid, really, isn’t it?! Writing this blog often gets me back in the swing of writing, actually – one of the reasons I do it!

  6. Stephanie Holliday says:

    It just wories me that part of the prize is having to write the whole novel!What would happen if you couldn’t do it or they didn’t like it?

    • Stephanie – do you mean the Mail on Sunday competition? You don’t have to finish the novel, they are only judging the start of it (which is always the easy bit! It’s the other 99,900 words that are tricky!). But if you mean the Mills & Boon competition, I think, if you are shortlisted, an editor works alongside you to finish the novel, which would be great!

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