Welcome to Lynsey Rogers, Writing Communities Co-ordinator for the Scottish Book Trust. The lack of awards and prizes for writers in the second half of life has been of concern to us at Autumn Voices. Hence our 2017 Over 60 Writing Competition and our 2018 Over 70 Poetry Competition. The Next Chapter Award is therefore an apt topic for this website.

5 reasons you should apply for the Next Chapter Award

Since 2014, the Next Chapter Award has supported a talented yet unpublished writer over the age of 40. Finding time and space to write is challenging for most writers, especially when other work and family commitments are added into the mix. But these challenges often increase as we get older. While our New Writers Awards programme has no upper age limit, it felt important to recognise these challenges and provide targeted support through this award.

Here are 5 reasons to apply for the Next Chapter Award:

1. Validation and dedicated time for writing

The programme is packed with support and opportunities, including a two week writing retreat at Moniack Mhor, mentoring and training. It is a big commitment, but taking part allows the selected writer to carve out some dedicated time for their work. We also work with writers to help with caring or childcare duties as much as possible. Receiving an award also brings a sense of validation, as current Next Chapter Awardee Ryan O’Connor says: ‘At some point we all need a little acknowledgement, a shot in the arm. Receiving the Next Chapter Award from the Scottish Book Trust is that and much more.’

2. Opportunity to develop a specific project

Maybe you’ve had a novel gathering dust for years or you’ve reached the end of a draft and you’re ready to get a new perspective on it. Whatever your project is, the award gives the selected writer a chance to develop a piece of work with the help of an experienced mentor. This mentor is usually another writer or industry professional such as an editor or literary agent. This support is bespoke and tailored to suit the writer’s individual needs.

3. Become part of a writing community

One huge bonus of taking part in a programme like the Next Chapter Award is the chance to join a ready-made writing community. This community not only includes the current Next Chapter and New Writers Awardees but it also extends to writers from previous years as well. All awardees are invited along to SBT New Writers events and they can often be found supporting each other at book launches or other literary events too. Julie Rea, Next Chapter Awardee 2017, said: ‘I’ve met talented writers that I’m now lucky enough to call friends, and I have found a writing community that is supportive, friendly and welcoming.’

4. Applying is an achievement in itself

…no really, it is!
Our application process asks for details about your writing achievements to date, information about the project you’d like to develop and a writing sample. Putting all of these components together will help you look at your work in a fresh way and encourage you to reflect on your writing goals. Even if you don’t receive an award this time, the process of applying will hone your writing skills and you’ll have material you can use for other applications as well.

5. Take inspiration from former awardees
Previous awardees have gone on to develop projects with the support of mentors such as Janice Galloway and Doug Johnstone. 2014 awardee Gail Honeyman went on to achieve phenomenal success with her debut novel, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (HarperCollins). The book has now sold over half a million copies in paperback and the film rights have been optioned by Reese Witherspoon’s production company. While we can’t guarantee publishing success, it’s inspiring to see our writers go on to achieve brilliant things. One thing we can definitely guarantee is that the selected writer will embark on a fun, challenging and exciting year!
The Next Chapter Award is open for applications until Wednesday 19 September 2018 (midday).