Writing by the Seat of Your Pants

Copyright Judy Bagshaw - All Rights Reserved



Quite often, the biggest stumbling block on a writer’s way to publication is getting a piece of writing finished. Life in the 21st  century is challenging as many of us balance day jobs, family life, and our passion for writing. Often, our writing has to take a back seat.

So how do we push ourselves toward the finish line? How do we make ourselves accountable for completing that romance novel or those short stories that have lingered in the drawer for too long? And how can we make it a fun experience? 

One way of accomplishing this is by participating in any one of a number of dedicated writing contests and challenges that can be found around the net. 

National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo) has been around since 1999. The goal of “NaNo” is to write a 175 page (50,000 word) novel by midnight Nov.30. This is “seat of the pants” writing, favouring quantity over quality. You register at their site www.nanowrimo.org, where you can also find forums for support. Once registered you can set up your own page where you can post about your progress. 

Organized in Vancouver, Canada the 3 Day Novel Contest is another challenge that occurs over the Labour Day weekend each year. Since its origin in 1977, writers have signed on for the chance at the first prize, publication of their book! More information can be found at www.3daynovel.com

Wynterblue Publishing Canada Inc, Canada’s first not-for-profit Publishing company, offers a 72 hour novel writing contest the first weekend in November. This contest is held yearly on the first weekend in November. Post mark deadline for entries this year is Wednesday November 7, 2007. Guidelines will be posted on the website at www.wynter.ca  Average word count expected is 15,000 - 30,000. There is an entry fee. Funds raised though, will be used to publish the winning author. The First Place winner receives a publishing contract with Wynterblue Publishing and National promotion. The one drawback is that this contest is only open to Canadian residents.  

WRW (WORLD ROMANCE WRITERS) hold their BIAW (Book In A Week) contest the 3rd  week of every month. It begins at 8 a.m. on the Monday and finishes the following Sunday at midnight. The idea is for each participant to set realistic and attainable goals while challenging themselves. To take part, you can join their list at WRW_BIAW-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

If you are more apt to write romance short stories or novellas, there are opportunities for you as well. 

WritersWeekly.com have their 24 hour short story contest. It is held quarterly and limited to 500 entrants, with lots of great prizes to be had. Information on this contest can be found at www.writersweekly.com/misc/contest.php

Wynterblue  Publishing Canada Inc. offer their Wyn Lit 24 short story contest the 3nd weekend of each month. Once every month, an email is sent to everyone on their mailing list. This email, entitled “Wyn Lit 24 # -” includes the details of that particular month’s 24 hour short story writing contest. The contest usually falls on the third Saturday of each month but from time to time it does not –it’s a good idea to check the  Wynterblue Calendar   for updates.  There is no entry fee. After you register, you receive by email, a topic and a list of words to include in your story. The winning entry is published in the literary journal, Wt:Blue Sky Region, and qualifies for inclusion in an anthology. More information on this contest is at  www.wynter.ca

The Writer’s Circle of Durham Region (www.wcdr.org) holds a 24 hour short story contest in the spring. It’s i  nternational and is open to all writers 18 years and over.   Stories may be of any subject matter, type or style. Entries must be original, unpublished, not submitted or accepted elsewhere for publication, and not entered simultaneously in any other competition. Length of each entry must not exceed 1,500 words (not including title). No limit to number of entries, but each must be submitted separately. (Payment may be combined for multiple entries.) Entries will be judged on their originality and sense of craft in the work. Prizes will be awarded based on a percentage of entry fees collected. For example, first prize is 25 per cent of entry fees, minimum $100 Canadian.

Toasted Cheeze Literary Journal, sponsors a no-fee 48 hour short story contest called Three Cheers and a Tiger. Information on this contest is found at www.toasted-cheese.com/ezine/contest.htm

A simple Google search will turn up a multitude of other contest and challenge opportunities as well.

Why, you might ask, would I want to put myself under this kind of time pressure? A number of answers come to mind:


  • it’s a great way to jump-start your creativity 
  • you get to spend time with like-minded folks 
  • you can try something different 
  • there are no expectations beyond the satisfaction of producing work 
  • it can be a lot of fun! 
  • Hey…you could win something!       


If the idea of participating in a contest or writing challenge to get that romance novel finished appeals to you, consider reading these other Writer2Writer articles as well:


So You Want to Win a Contest?



Writing is Good Therapy



Resources for Winning or Entering Contests    



About the Author:  Judy Bagshaw has been published since 2000. Writing romance featuring full-figured heroines, her publishing credits include 4 novels, 1 collection of short stories, and short stories in three anthologies. She was also part of the writing team for the Ginn Reading Series, and Reaching Readers Series, used in many elementary schools. Retired from teaching, she writes full-time from her home in Ontario, Canada. Visit Judy's website: www.judybagshaw.com




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