On Speed Writing

Every week I try to enter two think-on-your-feet competitions. I love them, but then I am weird and used to enjoy exams. They put you under pressure, they make you think, they make you make careless mistakes. BUT you can win each week, there is often feedback and if you’re lucky enough to be shortlisted, it’s a buzz. I take part in Hour of Writes (see https://hourofwrites.com/ ) and in Write-on-Site (see http://www.write-invite.com/ ). One involves writing for an hour (but you have up to five days to THINK about the prompt) and Write On Site gives you half an hour, from getting the prompt to hitting the ‘submit’ button. I’ve written some shockers and left them up there for the world to see. And I’ve won on each site too – there’s a lovely prize on each site of ¬£50 if you win. Winning is great, but in each and every case I’ve gained something from the experience. Even when an absolute shocker comes out, I’m often left with an idea I’d never have considered if not put under pressure. Some stories have grown, others have been rewritten and polished but kept mostly the same. It has absolutely amazed me what’s come out. On the Hour of Writes site I may get an idea from the prompt, midweek. I may not. I don’t make notes or anything; I simply sit down Thurs or Fri and fire away at the keyboard and let my creative spark GO. It’s fun, liberating and very inspiring to see what I’m capable of. The first time I did Hour of Writes I wrote less than 1000 words. Soon, and more or less every time now, I write the full 2000 (this is the upper limit) and have time to spare to make corrections. A couple of times I’ve been way too ambitious and not been able to write a decent ending – but something exists in draft form that I wouldn’t have had, had I not taken part. I am a bit of an addict on these two sites now and love the buzz of entering. This week they’ve both been ok, not brilliant, but ok. Whilst i doubt I’ll be shortlisted or a featured entry, I’ll definitely use both ideas to develop further. In each case I’ve sat down with a) a germ of an idea and b) no idea at all, and something has come of it. The power of the imagination….

Give it a go – you might be surprised.


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I'm a writer living in the NE of Scotland. I write short stories, flash fiction and to date, three novels as practice ones. I've won a few competitions and been published in a few places, and I've been shortlisted too... My stories have been described as easily readable, but with serious themes. I'm finding my own unique voice as a writer and it becomes clearer every day. I'm a mum of two young children and have a partner who is very supportive. I give English tuition to anyone who needs it and I drive taxis part time. In between being a keen cook and making ignoring housework a new hobby, I write. I manage a few hours a day during a good week and one day I'd LOVE to spend a week or so on a writers' retreat. Having said that, the busier I am, the more I write. I like working under pressure (hence my attendance on sites such as 'Hour of Writes' and 'Write-Invite') and it never ceases to amaze me what pops out of my head when I sit down to a blank screen. I am a member of a writer's group called Mearns Writers, a lovely bunch of (slightly bonkers and thoroughly interesting) people indeed. I'm trying to build an on line life as I believe most writers nowadays need to have a readily availble 'CV' in the form of a blog/twitter account/social media page and though I would rather spend time writing stories I suppose it's time I collated my successes and made a page that, hopefully, a publisher/agent will read one day. Happy reading!

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