It all starts so simple. Your friend asks if you have ever entered anything in a writing contest. Then they suggest that you look over the contests available and write something to enter. Why not? I mean, I’ve been writing stuff ever since I learned to read and write. How hard can it be?
It’s a lot like learning to swim. Everyone is doing it and it looks like so much fun. You can’t wait to jump in. Then your nose fills with water and you sink and thrash about to keep your head above water until you can get to the side of the pool or someone pulls you out.
That was me when I jumped into the writer’s pool. I can do this! I grew up listening to story tellers and have been story telling for years. All I have to do is put those stories into writing.
I blasted through my first draft of one of my better tales and whish, sent it to my friend for their obvious approval. I was proud and anxious to hear back about how good it was. What I got back was something like this: “It’s a good story. I made some changes to it so it fit’s the contest criteria. See what you think and we can do more if you like.”
What I was looking at looked nothing like the draft I had sent. But when I read it now, it made sense. It read the way I had heard it in my head as I wrote it. My original draft didn’t. To be honest, there wasn’t a single thirty- word sentence left in the whole thing. There were commas where there had once been ands and buts. Double spacing made it so much easier to read. Now it was a really good story. So much so that I wished I had written it. I mean, I had, but now it made sense. I realized I was dog-paddling around the pool and here someone was teaching me to swim. I just needed to pay attention.
Moving on from this first trip into the writer’s pool was fun. It turns out that there are a lot of writers both willing and ready to share their experience and expertise with others. You can learn everything from how to properly use punctuation to creating meaningful dialogue. It’s like the excitement of learning the backstroke or butterfly instead of dog-paddling. You just need to be open to learning and allowing others to critique your craft.
We all have stories to tell and adventures to share. Being a part of a group like White County Creative Writers helps make those stories come to life. There’s a lot to learn in order to have others read and hear in their minds the same story you heard when you were writing it.
Let the adventure begin while learning to swim in the writer’s pool.
Gary Rodgers enjoys writing short stories and sharing tales from his childhood. Saving into written stories the tales he grew up listening to around camp fires and living rooms is his way of passing on a tradition. Contest writing helps him improve his craft, and he says it’s a lot of fun.