New Writers Awards: Ready, Steady, Write!

Category: Writing

The New Writers Awards 2012/13 are now open for submissions and it’s all very exciting! Over in Writer Development HQ we’re recovering from the pre-announcement preparations and sitting pretty, waiting for the submissions to start rolling in.

As the newest member of the team I am perhaps looking forward to it the most – how many people will apply? What kind of writers will they be? Where will they come from? What will they write? It’s springtime in the office, with the possibility of fantastic new writers flowering at any moment.

Unfortunately, most of the writers who submit their work won't receive an award, something that Caitrin has discussed in a previous blog. With approximately 250 applications last year and 8 awards available, the odds might not seem too favourable at first. This year, there are 11 awards available but why should you apply at all?

There are two clear reasons why you should be applying:


1. To wear your hard graft proudly

Every new writer knows by heart the long list of literati who struggled before finding the right outlet for their work: Marcel Proust, Sylvia Plath, James Joyce, Agatha Christie, William Golding, Beatrix Potter, e.e.cummings and (of course) J.K. Rowling. It may seem disheartening, but these writers didn't take their initial lack of success to heart. Instead, they made their writing better and persisted until the right opportunity came along.

As Samuel Beckett said: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” To stand a chance of getting noticed, you need to learn to fail, pick yourself up again and improve (or stick by) your work. If you're serious about getting your writing into the world, then you need to acknowledge that there will be a tough journey ahead. But take another look at that list of  writers- you'll be in fine company once your chance comes.


2. Because maybe, just maybe...

Well, somebody has to make it through!

Every writer who submits their work is completing an act of faith in their work and their abilities as a writer. Sitting at home, hiding your words away on a computer, believing that’s the only place they deserve to be won't improve your chances of success. Just think about how simultaneously exciting and terrifying it will feel to hit the 'send' button. You'll join a band of brave writers and you can jump up, wiggle around a bit or do whatever you like to release that nervous energy. By entering for a New Writers Award, you are speaking up for your work, giving it a chance to leave the nest.

So, yes, youshould apply and make that bold step. Whether you're a recipient or not, the process will be an invaluable experience.

Claire Marchant-Collier is the Writer Development Administrator for Scottish Book Trust. Find out how to apply for the New Writers Awards here.