Canada Writes

Canada Writes Blog

Amy Neufeld (Alberta)

Photo of Amy Neufeld

Canada Writes 07, Finalist

Having more in common with a mouse than a tiger when it comes to competition, I was relieved that my fellow Canadian Writers were all friendly and supportive.

We met the judges, ate some breakfast and got to know each other before the taping began. It became obvious that this was not going to be a cutthroat competition -- whew! We then taped three games in a row, with an hour for writing in between each show. Each time we entered the cozy studio our numbers were a little smaller, our anticipation ever increasing.

My biggest fear with the timed challenges was the threat of the blank page (or, more accurately, the blank computer screen). If there were ever an inopportune time for writer’s block to strike, it would be during Canada Writes. I gave myself a perverse little thrill (and wave of nausea) before each challenge as I wondered “what will happen if I can’t do it?” Fortunately I never had to find out. But I couldn’t always focus on a theme, so I would write several entries to choose from. Surprisingly, one of the hardest things to do was keep each piece to 200 words or less. Preferred word choice gave way to economy as I struggled to fit each idea into a tight mould - a great challenge in simplicity.

After returning home, I was fortunate to meet the producer of CBC’s The Irrelevant Show, who interviewed me on the radio about Canada Writes. Afterward he approached me to write some skits for the comedy show, and I was so pleased when two of my scenes ended up on the radio! I’ve continued writing plays for my drama students as well. (In fact, I’m up against a deadline right now!)

My advice for future contestants is to write for yourself – don’t worry about trying to please judges, just stick to your style and write what you know. And have fun!

How It Works

  1. Write In!

    Out of hundreds and hundreds of entries, just twenty Canadians made it to the Short List and won themselves an audition with Canada Writes. Then eight semi-finalists were picked to play in the Eastern semi-finals and Western/Northern semi-finals.

    Read their winning songs, blogs, ads, rants and movie pitches!

  2. Tune In… or Join Us!

    On March 14th and April 4th, tune in to GO! on CBC Radio One at 10 am (10:30 am NT) for the Eastern and Western/Northern semi-final games in Halifax and Vancouver. The finals will be held in Toronto on April 18th. Or join us at any of the three shows to root for the contestants in person. Go to for tickets.

  3. Play Online!

    The Canada Writes 09 Online Challenge is now over. Thanks for playing!


(Toronto, April 25, 2009)

Canada Writes Finalists

It was a very tight race in the end. Our four finalists fought it out by blog, song, ad and a three-line story. First, they each drew a blog topic, from “the best hundred dollars I ever spent” to “one fact I would like to ‘un-know’”. Challenge number 2 was to re-write a song by Queen, with Valerie Stanois from the musical We Will Rock You bringing power vocals to their surprising new words. Then judges Geri Hall, Terry O’Reilly and Darrell Dennis sent Kaveh Mohebbi through the infamous Trap Door. Challenge number 3 was the radio ad. Clever ads for Cornhobbler’s Crematorium and Juice Bar (obviously not a real business) and Christmas greetings from the makers of Flank Chainsaws won Katie Sanders and Laurie Schwartz a last chance at writing glory, but it was Margaret Beach’s turn to go through the Trap Door. Finally, Laurie and Katie had to come up with the first two lines of a three-line story… on yellow writing pads on their laps…and in 90 seconds….

After weeks of effort and tension and achievement -- from the writing contest in January, through the auditions, the short list, the semi-finals and the finals – it was all over in a couple of minutes. Katie pulled ahead by a crucial point -- and became the winner of Canada Writes 09! Listen to the show! Read the blogs!

Canada Writes Judges

For more photos, go to

Winner of the Online Challenge! Ontario's Heather Smith is the winner of this year's People's Choice Award. Her winning entry was a re-write of the ABBA song 'Waterloo.' Take a look!