The Richell Prize, then and now: how blogging has honed my voice

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This time last year I submitted my first ever entry in the Richell Prize, an Australian prize for an emerging writer with an unpublished manuscript. This year, with a new work in progress, I’ve decided to give it another go. While thinking about my submission, I revisited my entry from last year and was horrified by what I found. The piece I wrote about what winning the prize would do for me read like a formal letter accompanying a job application—one I clearly wasn’t qualified for.

Not discounting the rushed, amateurish nature of the rest of the submission, I can’t help but wonder if my stilted writing in this piece let me down. Michelle Barraclough, who was awarded Highly Commended in last year’s competition, recently shared her tips for entering the Richell Prize. Of all the excellent links and suggestions, the thing that stuck in my mind while reading my pathetic effort was that Michelle wrote the submission statement in her own voice.

Looking over my work, it now seems obvious to me that I should have taken a more relaxed, conversational approach. In fact, even without Michelle’s timely advice, I’m sure I would have written the submission very differently this year. This part of the submission, I realise, needs to be in my voice. And I now know what my voice sounds like thanks, in part, to blogging.

Technically I’ve been blogging for over a year, but the posts I did before last year’s submission were really just about setting up the website and hesitantly dipping my toe in the water. Since October last year, I’ve been trying to post a bit more consistently, and have brought the focus to writing-related topics. And I’m already feeling more purpose and have more of a sense of my unique voice. Alison Tait, author and blogger, suggests that writing a blog helps to develop your ‘inside voice’.

I’ve just had another crack at writing about what winning the Richell Prize would mean to me. This time I’ve made it a lot more conversational, funny in parts, and it sounds so much more authentic. So much more like me. I’m not under any illusion that this part of the submission is particularly important, but I can say that, on reflection, those hours spent blogging haven’t been wasted.

What do fellow bloggers think? Has blogging helped to develop your voice?



By Lisa Kenway

Lisa Kenway is an Australian writer and doctor. Her debut psychological thriller, ALL YOU TOOK FROM ME, is coming in August 2024 from Transit Lounge Publishing. An early version was long-listed for the 2020 Richell Prize. A 2023 Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre fellow, her work has appeared in Island Online, the Meanjin blog, Meniscus Literary Journal and elsewhere. Find her at or on Twitter @LisaKenway.


  1. Yes, totally agree that blogging helps to develop your voice. It’s also a good way to get into the habit of working to a deadline and to write consistently. I’ve noticed a huge improvement in the way I write since I regularly started blogging. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on your submission to the Richell Prize. Good luck!


  2. Good luck with your Richell entry!
    My experience is very similar. Last year was the first time I entered – and recently, I could barley stand looking at my original entry, or submission letter. I’m feeling so much better about this year’s entry, but then again, it still may not be enough.
    I hope you make it through!


  3. Thanks, Marie, and best of luck with your entry. It’s interesting to look back at your work and appreciate how far you’ve come. It does, however, also make me wonder if next year I’ll feel the same way about the work I’m producing now.


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