A competition has been launched in a bid to celebrate the written word and get the nation writing again.

For a chance to win a £1,000 writing grant, entrants are invited to submit two pictures along with 1,000 words, based on the adage ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’.

Celebrating the power of the printed photo, budding writers must use the word count to unite the two images, either through fact or fiction.

Entrants are asked to tell the story using one image to mark the beginning of a life defining moment and another to represent the happy ending.

The tales can be fact or fiction and be based around humans, animals, children, parents, grandparents or even aliens.

The winner, judged by a panel of experts, will be in line to receive a writing grant of up to £1,000.

The competition will be split into three categories: under 18s, 18-50, and over 50s.

Up to 25 stories will be shortlisted. These entries will then be made available for public vote, which will account for 25% of the final judging. The judging panel will then make their final decision, selecting a winner of each category as well as an overall winner with grant funding for each.

Judging the national competition – which opens on 18th May – are esteemed journalist and writer Deborah Linton and National press photographer Mark Waugh.

The stories will be judged on the story, the compositional style and the images used. The top 25 will be published on the Cartridge Save website and made available to print via a free download.

Deborah Linton regularly has work published in Guardian Weekend and has written for The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, Grazia and the Huffington Post. Deborah also teaches the journalists of the future at Manchester Metropolitan University.

She said: “Inspiration for stories can be found all around us, even now, when it feels like the world is a little out of reach – and it is true that a picture can summon a whole tale. Those moments that define people’s lives, real, imagined or a blend of both, can produce some of the most powerful and compelling writing; the kind which really grabs at readers’ own experiences and emotions. I’m looking forward to seeing what writers come up with and helping to choose worthy winners to share in this grant to further their work.

“My top tip for anyone looking to take part is to draw on your own experience or one that you know well and find the thing about it that readers will most relate to. That should be your starting point as you sit down to write.”

Mark Waugh – who has his pictures regularly published in national press – said: “My career has been built on a very simple formula: that the most captivating stories are the ones that unite photos with words. Everyday, journalists bring those two disciplines together to communicate the stories we need to know.

“I love the essence of this competition, which celebrates the power of photography in adding intricate levels to storytelling.

“My advice for anyone looking to take part is to use photos that work as an extension of the story. Do they reinforce an emotion? Describe the people? Give you everything you need to know about the setting? Use photos as the powerful tool they are: to immediately immerse you in a story.“

With the nation in lockdown it is feared a mental health crisis looms with stress and anxiety rising and charities fear people with depression are failing to reach out for help for fear of using up NHS resources.

Writing is a tool often used in therapy to help focus thoughts or release feelings from personal trauma and psychologists point to it creating a sense of control on emotions.

This is something Ian Cowley, managing director of cartridgesave.co.uk, is keen to promote. He said: “Writing has proven health benefits and we often find that simply jotting down your thoughts can give you a clearer mentality when it comes to tackling the day ahead. It might be planning for a meeting, a job interview, or taking emotions out of your head and onto paper in an attempt to process them.

“We’d love to get the nation writing and letting their creativity flow. Whether they choose to use their imagination with work of fiction or tell an emotional story of discovery between two moments in their life. I love the idea of using images to ‘bookmark’ the stories beginning and end. It’s so visual and really lends itself to a huge range of topics and short stories.

“One thousand words does paint a picture and that’s exactly what we want people to do here. I’m really excited to see what people come up with and to help eventual winners continue on their writing journey.”

The online ink cartridge retailer, who’s higher purpose is to promote ‘print what matters’, has been behind a number of campaigns celebrating the written word including the Gift of Books campaign.

After it was revealed by the National Literacy Trust that 40,000 children in Greater Manchester didn’t own a book, Cartridge Save set up a the Gift of a Book scheme encouraging school children to donate their favourite stores to those who are growing up without books, with a note inside to say why they enjoyed it so much.

Turn to 2020 and the firm are backing the ‘1000 words’ campaign to help get the nation’s creative juices’ flowing.

Entries can be submitted through cartridgesave.co.uk/printwhatmatters/a-picture-is-worth-a-thousand-words and will close on the 20th July. Entrants in the under 18s category, will need to submit their entry with written parental permission.