Over the past two weeks I have entered seven writing competitions. They have been for flash fiction, short stories and novels. I haven’t dared add it all up but I must be nearing a £50 spend by now. When I began, I read, re-read, edited, read again, worried, fretted and finally sent it in. Now, several days and submissions in, I am getting quicker, slicker. Although I have had no feedback and no results yet, the very act of entering has increased my confidence (I have done it, therefore I can) and, delightfully, caused me to rediscover my joy in my writing. I had reached a hole, a wall, the sheer rock face that many of us hit at some point and had decided to put my current novel in a metaphorical drawer and start researching something else. I love research. I love making notes. I love finding things, hitting tangents and finding something else. I love the freedom of letting my mind wander through the information I am gathering and finding its own route and its own story. But, on deciding to enter these competitions (after reading this pertinent, entirely true piece Your Submission Phobia which was recently posted on our Facebook page Cafe Aphra ) I went back to my novel and began taking pieces out of it to re-work into standalone short stories. This has made me look at the chapters, the characters and the plot with fresh eyes and renewed interest. I’m still not ready to go back to it just yet - it’s comfortable sleeping in its cyber-drawer - but I, as a writer, am ready to get going again.