Canada Writes

Canada Writes Blog

Jenny Ryan (Saskatchewan)

Photo of Jenny Ryan

Canada Writes 07, Winner

Canada Writes 2009, hey? I guess I'm about to be de-crowned …

So I've been trying for 30 minutes to figure out what to say… It's hard! Nothing I write seems good enough. It's odd, because the reason I won last year (yes, I was the "Best Writer In Canada", and that's not showing off, it's a fact—check the internet) was my ability to write little stories quickly.

Was it the stimulating environment (a variety of snacks! Close proximity to Famous People! The CBC building!)? The manic atmosphere (we did the whole thing in 9 hours straight!)? The pressure to win? (I had to be the consolation prize to Saskatchewan if the 'Riders lost the Grey Cup)? I'll never know how I managed it, but I do know that there was magic in that Writers' Block that allowed me to be at the top of my creative game.

Since then, I have had a story published in Grain. CBC Saskatchewan produced a story for Sound Xchange. My novel was rejected by a number of impressive publishing houses and literary agencies. I also update my Facebook status regularly.

My advice to this year's contestants? Practise! I had friends email me writing assignments with short deadlines--"write me a song about polar bears in the next twenty minutes!", "write 250 words on shoe shopping within the hour!"-- and this really helped put me in the right mood--frantically creative!

Other tips? Eat your vegetables. Make friends. Abandon yourself to the process, and take a camera. No matter the outcome, something will happen that'll make a great picture.

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!