When I began my writing journey I often wondered where was the best place to start. I remember sending in the library of the community college I was going to at the time in my home town of Meridian, MS world building this incredible fantasy world that I have yet to do anything with. As I filled this notebook up with some of the most detailed crafted world I’ve ever developed, I started to become worried that I’ve bitten off more than I could chew, and I was right. I was under the false assumption that the best thing for new authors to do go balls to the wall, and knock out that debut novel from day one. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but I can say that it was the wrong idea for someone so new to the world of writing literary fiction. This quite obviously led to extreme burn out before I even started to pen my first work, and as you could assume, this was quite discouraging for someone just starting out.

There was a time when I was really considering that a potential career in writing simply wasn’t for me. I dabbled with screen writing for quite a while, until I was introduced to something that completely changed my writing life forever. This little community of dedicated professionals helped me propel my career in writing to a place I’ve always wanted to be, but always struggled to get a firm grasp on. I’m talking about Reedsy.

As me and my wife were bouncing around to different places, as a result of our nomadic lifestyle at the time, I really struggled to actually sit down and put pen to paper. The original part of Reedsy that I was introduced to was their awesome short story writing contest. They provide authors with five prompts that they can submit to, and a panel of decorated judges come to a winner who is awarded $250! Now, to be fair I’ve yet to win this competition, but every week the competition restarts allowing myself and hundreds of other authors to step into the arena of literary combat to become the champion for the week.

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering why I would be encouraging new authors to join competitions. The answer is that it’s not about the competitions at all. It gives new authors an organized, structured environment to hone their skill, and make a few friends along the way. The content requirement is very simple with a max word count of 3,000 words, and a minimum of 1,000 which is absolutely perfect for beginner writers. With the overarching theme changing from week to week, writers are able to really stretch their muscles of creativity. I tend to steer more to the dark and mysterious in my writings (it’s literally more slogan), so I can take any of those prompts and turn it into something quite epic! However, the downside is that I’m pretty sure Reedsy doesn’t necessarily like dark story telling, because I’ve never seen one win, but who knows!

Reedsy will always hold a special place in my heart. All of the stories in my first published book was an anthology of short stories all written for those competitions! It really helped me become such a better writer, and become more comfortable with people reading my work. For anyone even slightly interested in writing as a hobby, please consider giving it a look over. You will be quite surprised with the fascinating worlds you can create.

John McCool

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