linda formichelli

Guest Blog: Bust the Excuses That Keep You From Entering the LHJ Essay Contest

October 11, 2012 at 1:02 pm , by

We know you have a story to tell that would be perfect for the annual LHJ Essay Contest. But maybe you don’t know quite how to start writing — or don’t think a you’re good enough writer to even enter (we disagree!). Today’s guest blog comes from writing coach Linda Formichelli, who proves you have no excuse to not to share your story with us. Find out how to enter the contest here!

LHJ recently kicked off their second annual Personal Essay Contest, where the lucky winner will win $3,000 and the chance to have her essay published in the Journal. Many women (like you?) want to write. They have a story to tell, and they love playing with words and making their prose sing. But chances are, a good portion of women who want to share their writing with the world won’t write an essay for this contest. Why?

Here are the top excuses that hold writers back — and how to bust them.

Excuse #1: You Have No Time

If writing is important to you, you can make the time. You may need to write during your toddler’s nap, during your break at work, early in the morning, or late at night. You may have to give up some TV time or stop surfing the Internet, or say no to obligations that get in the way of your writing time.

The writers who actually, well, write don’t have more time than everyone else — they just know how to use their time wisely, and they don’t compromise on scheduling “butt in chair” time to do the writing they love.

Excuse #2: You’re Afraid of Rejection

If you send a story to a literary magazine and it’s not accepted, or write an essay for a contest and don’t win, it’s not a reflection of you as a person or the value of your writing.

The hard truth is, all good writers get rejected. Heck, the first Harry Potter book was rejected by 12 publishers before it found a good home — and became a sensation that made JK Rowling a very rich woman.

To keep up your motivation to write, you need to develop a thick skin and realize that rejection is nothing personal. Your writing didn’t work for a particular editor or judge or critiquer at a certain time. That’s all. But if you keep trying, chances are you will hit the right person at the right time with the right story.

Excuse #3: You’re Not Sure How to Get Started

No doubt about it: Crafting pieces that people want to read —  that resonate with readers and sparkle from beginning to end — isn’t easy! But the good news is, you don’t need any kind of credentials to tell your story in writing. Many writers are self-taught; for example, the most recent essay that made me cry was written by an architect with no other published writing to her name.

Luckily, if you want more help, resources abound that can show you how to improve and polish your writing, from books and magazines to blogs and e-courses. And many of these are free or cheap!

Browse the writing shelf at your local bookstore for books like Stephen King’s On Writing, check magazines like Poets & Writers on the newsstand, and Google blogs that address the type of writing you want to do — whether it’s fiction, essays, memoir, or poetry. You’ll also find teleclasses, webinars, and more.

I challenge you to ditch the excuses and get working on your essay for the Journal contest. Beyond the chance to win an impressive prize, it will be a learning experience and an opportunity to tell your story to the world.

Let the writing begin!

Linda Formichelli runs the Renegade Writer blog and has written for more than 130 magazines. She offers two free e-books for writers, teaches an e-course on how to break into magazine writing, offers phone mentoring for writers, and is the “Other Den Mother” at the Freelance Writers Den.