Hi Everyone, and WELCOME to The Writing Fairy website. I'm Dorothea Helms, freelance writer, poet, book author, fiction dabbler, writing instructor, keynote speaker, humorist, wife, mother and slave to my English Bulldog, Margaret. My website is undergoing a facelift, boob lift, liposuction, weight loss program ... wait a minute - those are things I need personally. Sheesh. But my website IS in transition after being neglected for a LONG time. My goal is to inspire writers; my method humour (or humor in the U.S.). Enjoy!

Coaxing closet writers to emerge and make their magic known!

Archive for October, 2014

The following column appeared in the November/December 2009 issue of WCDR’s newsletter, Word Weaver.

The Writing Fairy® Eat My Dust Column

by Dorothea Helms

Someone asked me the other day why I chose “The Writing Fairy” as my brand. He wondered whether people think it’s a business for kids, or whether they assign negative connotations to the word Fairy. In fact, these are valid observations, and I took them into consideration in 2004 before I went ahead with the name.

I used Edward DeBono’s Six Hat Thinking to analyze the idea. First, I put on the white hat (in the metaphorical sense, although I have used real hats to teach this exercise). White represents the facts, and the facts were that I already had a successful freelance business, a lot of experience, and an established audience for my work. Then I moved on to the yellow hat, which symbolizes positive thinking. Most of the time, I’m a bona fide optimist, so it was easy for me to paint a bright picture of the future.

The green hat is interesting, because it’s about new ideas and the reasons to go for it. I did research on writers’ circles and groups across North America, and they’re multiplying faster than rabbits. After 15 years of teaching creative writing, I know there are closet writers out there, so I felt I’d do well with that target market, especially by using humour.

Then it was on to the red hat, which is my favourite. It stands for the feelings attached to the idea. The beauty of this hat is that you don’t have to justify these emotions in any way. I WANNA BE THE WRITING FAIRY, I WANNA, I WANNA. So there.

And I couldn’t ignore the black hat, which is looking at the idea in a critical way. The black hat helps to temper the enthusiasm with reality. Would people think my stuff is for kids? And would men avoid my books and workshops because of the word “fairy”? Then, the blue hat—the overall picture. Overall, my idea to launch The Writing Fairy seemed like a solid idea and a lot of fun.

What cinched it for me was a conversation I had with best-selling author Nicholas Boothman, who knows Edward DeBono. I mentioned the black hat concerns to Nick, and he said, “Dorothea I love the idea. The people who are going to get it will get it. Don’t worry about the others; another voice will speak to them.” And the rest is fairy history.

 

The following column appeared in the September/October 2009 issue of WCDR’s newsletter, Word Weaver.

The Writing Fairy® Eat My Dust Column

by Dorothea Helms

Winning writing contests is one of the most exciting things I’ve experienced during my career. In addition to validation for my writing from an objective source, the wins have brought money, plaques, prizes and prestige. Contest wins listed on a writer’s CV also add credibility.

I don’t know of a magic formula for winning (even though I’m The Writing Fairy), but I do have some tips I’d like to share on how to increase your chances.

  1. Come up with a creative way to approach the contest topic.
  2. Follow the rules.
  3. Write with abandon, polish your writing with care.
  4. Follow the rules.
  5. Enter
  6. Follow the rules.

Sound simplistic? For years, I have served as a writing contest judge from local to national levels, and I have run several contests myself. I’m always astounded at the number of entrants who neglect the rules.

If the maximum word count is 2,500 and your entry is 3,000, it will be eliminated before it’s even read. I’ve had to axe entries for being over the word count many times. If the rules stipulate that the piece has to be original and unpublished, make sure it is. Nowadays it’s easy to do a Google search for one of the sentences and find out if it’s on a website somewhere. I’ve done that and found published work that has been entered as unpublished. And if there is an entry fee, remember to include your payment.

The best way to make sure you follow the rules is to READ THEM. In one of my Writing Fairy contests, after I published the names of the 10 finalists, one of them contacted me to say he had just read the rules, and that his entry had been published in a major US newspaper. I had to eliminate his piece, and it took time and effort to figure out who was next in line to take his spot in the top ten.

When it comes to increasing your chances of winning writing contests, the only thing worse than not following the rules is not entering. If you read winning contest entries and think, I can do better than that, then do better than that and send it in. You’ll find a fabulous list of writing contests on the WCDR website. Get on your butt and give it a whirl.

Oh, and did I mention Follow the Rules?