Writing awards: are there enough of them and do they mean anything anyway?
Martin Lee, Acacia Avenue
There’s definitely a hole in the awards market for another niche prize. I’m thinking of the ‘2008 Fascinating Proposal for an Unfinished Manuscript Written by Martin Lee Award’. The size of the prize would be sufficient to allow for enough time to craft a winning entry for the 2009 award. Is it really too much to ask?
Roger Horberry, Alp Associates
Writing awards – essential if I’ve won one, irrelevant if I haven’t.
Jim Davies, totalcontent
In our line of writing, there’s only the one award (D&AD Writing For Design) and that’s rather flawed. It was long overdue, and while at least it represents some recognition for the contribution writers make to a piece of design, it’s turned out to be a bit of a damp squib. For starters, it attracts very few entries compared to the other very well-represented categories at D&AD. I was on the judging panel one year, and was disappointed by what was laid before us compared to all the great stuff I knew was out there in the big wide world. Then there’s the question of how you measure, say, a Christmas card or a poster against a 200-page annual report. And finally, whether you can actually judge writing when you don’t have time to read it properly. Even with so little entered, with some of the longer pieces, you could only hope to get a flavour of the quality of writing in the allocated time. So, I’m delighted that D&AD Writing For Design exists, and I’d like to see others (Creative Review, Design Week) join the fray. But I think it needs to be promoted more vociferously, and the judging system needs looking at – perhaps by introducing short-listing like in the literary awards – so that there’s more reading and debating time built in.
Awards are great to win but only a few people can win. Which means those who don’t win feel unjustly overlooked. But they’re good in drawing attention and stimulating debate about the subject. I’ve always liked the Booker for that reason – it means that we focus once a year at least on new novels.
If all shall have prizes, how come I haven’t had mine yet?