5 Useful Tips That Work For Me


Last year I entered short story competitions and I shall do so again. It is a good way of getting work out there and writing to different guidelines expands your writing experience too. But entering these competitions can be costly so in order that I don’t go crazy with my hard earned cash, I set myself a budget and I stick to it. Not all competitions cost money, many are free to enter and I suggest checking around websites and you will find a wide choice to choose from. So that is my tip #1, set a budget that you are comfortable with and that way you stay in control.   


We all live busy lives and without my to-do list I would be running around in a panic. It is invaluable for my writing. Each evening I write my list for the next day such as, emails I must send/reply to, stories to send out, fill in my worksheet, phone calls to make/return etc. If I have not ticked off all on that day’s list I carry them over to the next day. If I have not completed a task and it has been carried over for two/three days then I make it a priority to be dealt with first on the list. The satisfaction of ticking off chores is delightful and it gives a sense of achievement at the end of the day. Of course to-do lists are not for writing only; it is a very useful habit to have to keep check on daily life in general.


I would be lost without Excel. On it I have entered the title of my stories, where I have sent them, Accepted/Rejected, Competition/Magazine, Payment/prize etc. So at a glance I know where each story is. If you are not familiar with Excel, it is worth learning on how to use it. If you find it difficult you can always use a large A4 book and using a double page spread mark it in to different columns and title each column and then fill in the details beneath. It is another useful tool in keeping me organised and one that I would encourage any writer to have. Of course it works for poetry, songs and plays also.


In a fast changing world many of life’s basic little things can get lost. Saying thank you can be one of those basic little things. In connection to writing, I believe saying thanks is important. When I receive an email whether it is bringing rejection of my story/novel or telling me my story/novel is accepted, I like to reply with a thank you. By saying thank you, I am acknowledging the time and response that was given to me. I make a connection by doing this and if you are a nice person to deal with, you will be remembered. After all part of being a writer is building relationships and making connections. So whether it is a nay or yay, thank you can go along way and it costs nothing to be nice.


Right you have worked hard all week. You have been writing furiously, finishing that story/letter/poem and you have watched your competition budget and also entered any work that has gone out/returned into your records. You even remembered to say thank you. It is now reward time. You are entitled to a treat, some new lipstick/ magazine/CD/DVD or a cupcake or two, even time out to read or walk, meet a friend for coffee and a chat. It doesn’t have to cost money; it only needs to make you feel good for all your hard work. There must be enjoyment too from your writing apart from getting acceptances which is the best reward of all. So, little treats now and then encourage us to carry on through the tough times. 

Happy writing and thank you for reading this post.


  1. All great tips Mary, especially the excel one. Great for keeping track of pieces. I put a hyperlink to the actual poem on its name on the spreadsheet.

    1. Thanks Michael for reading and commenting. See you in Trim PG.