Sharp Your Pencils: Writing Competitions

What are Writing Competitions?

writingcontestA writing competition is a contest in which writers submit their best work. Usually for a cash prize and the chance of publication and to be discovered.

Money? Publication? A chance to meet editors and agents? Where do I sign in?

The final decision falls on a jury who is usually compromised of fellow writers, editors, agents or publishers.

Some competitions are sponsored by magazines, colleges, and universities, writing associations or book publishers.

The more reputable the sponsoring organization, the more legit the competition.

There are so many writing competitions throughout the year. They have plenty of benefits for the aspiring writer. For those already established or published, not so much.

Nonetheless, there are competitions and literary awards for published authors too.

What are the Benefits of Writing Competitions?

image: escuela de escritura creativa

Besides the cash prize, you may ask? Or the trophy/plaque/certificate you receive? There are many advantages to participating in these competitions.

If you win or become a finalist, you will most likely get your work published and read by an established audience. Hence, if you are trying to break in, this may be the best benefit to be gain.

There is a certain cachet to be the winner or finalist of a prestigious competition. It also looks really good in a query letter.

You will be judged by professionals in your field. And because you know you will be judged, you will try to do your best to bring your A-game.

Also, competitions have deadlines, which us writers, despite our love/hate relationship with them, can use to help us focus on our craft.

Also, as mentioned above, competitions can help us get discovered by:

a) a prospective agent or editor,
b) by an audience that may not be familiar with our work.

If you win or place, most competitions promote the work of their winners. That is a win/win in my book!

Should You Compete?

image: Jakarta post

Are you an aspiring or beginner writer? If you answer yes, the answer is: definitely!

If the promise of money and fame is not enough, the act of entering competitions will help you develop your craft.

I have entered several writing competitions. No, I haven’t won anything yet. But I can honestly say they have helped me become better.

Although sometimes I look at my entries and see where I could have improved them. And sometimes I rush to meet the deadlines. But I keep entering and trying.

Two particular competitions are close to my heart, the Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Competition and the Writer’s of the Future Competition. But those are topics for a future blog entry.

And remember, your biggest competitor is yourself. Don’t be afraid. Give writing competitions a try.

Reader, have you entered a writing competition? How was your experience?


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March 2023