Writing is both the simplest and most complicated of tasks. For anybody reading this already has the words. All they have to do is to put them in the right order.
This is said not in jest but in encouragement. For one of the biggest drawbacks with the Martin Wills Writing Awards over the years has been a reluctance of young people to enter despite what are really impressive financial inducements. In an admittedly over-lengthy career I have won national awards as both Sports Journalist and Sports Feature Writer of the Year and neither of them was a patch on the money for our Awards. I was clearly born too soon!
If you are interested in writing and in what is around you the only thing preventing you putting together an interesting piece is the effort required to try and put those words together. It is not easy but the struggle is worthwhile. Any literate person can describe a situation. The challenge is to do it in the best way that you, and only you, can do.
For only you have seen or heard or thought of the situation you want to write about. It is your ideas, your vocabulary and your way of expressing yourself that is at your disposal. Reading through the entries to the Awards over the years it is sometimes clear that people are writing not as themselves but as they think they should be.
The one question every entrant should ask before they submit their work is “have I done the best I can do?” That is the key. You would be amazed at how many of the entries we receive have not even bothered to check spelling (where reliance cannot be placed on the spell-checker) and punctuation. Frequently, paragraphs are too long.
Part of the fun of entering should be polishing up what you have submitted so that it is indeed “the best that you can do.” Looking back at what I have written here on an annual basis, the most consistent message is to warn of the dangers of not reading entries through: in essence of sending in something which is not “the best that you can do.”
When you have finally finished a bit of writing, indeed when I finish this, the first instinct is to sigh in relief and bang it over. But both I and you should always remember the old truth that only an absolute genius cannot improve what has been written by reading it through. It is like tidying your room. You don’t want to do it but you know that it will look, and you will feel, better when you have. Especially, as in this case you are inviting us in.
Best of luck.
Brough Scott MBE
Chairman of the Judges
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