One of the great things about SurvivalBlog is that it is nearly all staff-written and reader-written. We also carefully select a few articles from other blogs and web sites to re-post as guest posts. But you never see the schlock “contributed” articles that now clog most other blogs. Those are articles and “infographics” that are mostly paid for and provided by companies that are seeking to boost their search engine rankings, or to hawk their products. They are easy to spot, because of their formulaic writing style with no personality. You will also never see a “paid” or “sponsored” review in SurvivalBlog. All of the book and product reviews that we post have true objectivity.
Since 2005, we’ve been running a nonfiction writing contest, with prizes awarded once every two months. In all, thanks mostly to the contest sponsors, we’ve now awarded more than $700,000 worth of prizes. Many of those prizes are both practical and valuable. I encourage any reader who has not yet submitted an article to do so. You’ll then be in the running to win some of those prizes. Keep in mind that this contest is not a game of chance. It all comes down to your skill as a writer–just how well you can relate practical knowledge.
Coming Out on Top
Getting picked as a winner of one of the top three prize packages comes down to these qualifying differentiators:
- Write about what you truly know. Not what you “think might work” or something you’ve read about. But rather what you really know about, from hard experience. Here, people who have have lived and worked in harsh conditions will have an advantage. Have you ever worked at a job that is particularly difficult, gritty, or dangerous? Have you built, grown, or mined things, from start to finish? Have you ever invented a practical tool, device, or technique? Have you ever lived in a severe climate? Have you ever been in combat? Have you ever produced food for your own family? Have you ever built your own home? Did you ever overcome a great challenge? Write about what you truly know, and your article stands agood chance of being a prize winner.
Note that you don’t have to be an industry expert to write if you are writing from your own experience. You are simply writing about what you did. Even if the end result of your project was a failure, let others learn from your experience.
- Write concisely and coherently. Organize what you write logically and put it all into proper sentences and paragraphs. Once you are done, proofread it. And most importantly, also have someone else edit and proofread it.
- Include illustrations. Your article should include at least one photograph. Or several photographs if what you are describing is procedural.
- Write in an engaging way, that will captivate your readers. Even a ntitty-gritty article can include one or two humorous anecdotes.
- Don’t leave people guessing. If your article is instructional, then make sure that it is complete and precise. Phrases like: “take a length of rope and…” or “add a large scoop of…” are frustrating to readers. You need to truly inform your readers with details. A parts list is something crucial to most “how to” articles.
- Phone a friend. If there is a factual gap in your article, then consult with friends who have a similar body of knowledge/experience, and fill in those gaps!
- Don’t send us multiple drafts! Only send us your completed, fully-edited article. Once you’ve finished writing, polish your article, and wait a week. Then polish it some more. Finally, then send it in! This is not race with a deadline. It is a contest of skill. So show us just how skilled, well-studied, and articulate a writer you can be.
- Writing about unusual work, military, or hobby experience has an advantage. If it is something out of the ordinary, then SurvivalBlog readers will probably find it interesting.
- Spell check, then proofread it. Then look for any homophone errors. (Such as: Their/they’re, hoard/horde, and lose/loose.)
- Study previous award winning articles for insights about what a makes a winning piece of writing.
- Read the writing contest rules, and be sure to follow them. You will see some extra large print on plagiarism, for example.
- Keep trying. If you’ve already won an Honorable Mention prize, then you’ve already been quite close to winning one of the top three prizes. Give it another shot! And if you’ve a;ready won own of the Top Three prizes, you are eligible to win again, if more than one year has transpired.
I strongly encourage you to share your knowledge and experience. Even if it is experience born of mistakes. By sharing those, you can help keep fellow readers from making those same mistakes. Many thanks! – JWR