Whether it’s your first time or your hundredth, there is something exhilarating about entering your work into a writing contest. And for those of us who feel the pull toward ink and paper, clicking “submit” can mean a variety of positive things. From expanding your writing repertoire to potential prizes, here are five reasons to enter writing contests, and a couple of quick tips for getting started
1) Set-in-Stone Guidelines and a Concrete Deadline
In many ways, creatives are set free from indecision when we are given limitations. It’s so easy to jot down fifteen (or more) different story ideas, but never complete a single draft while we procrastinate, considering which idea is worth pursuit.
A contest brings this kind of indecision to a screeching halt, since it enforces specific submission guidelines and a concrete deadline.
2) The Opportunity to Expand Your Writing Repertoire
Maybe you typically write literary fiction, but you’d like to try your hand at a creative nonfiction contest. Or, perhaps you typically write science fiction or fantasy, but you have your eye on a love/romance contest.
Entering your work into various writing contests is a fantastic way to experiment and expand your writing repertoire. There is typically a cap on word-count anyway, so you’re likely to be able to dabble in a range of styles/genres without taking too much time from what you ordinarily write.
3) Potential Publication and Prize Money
I’d be remiss to discuss the benefits of entering your work into a writing contest without mentioning the possibility of publication and prize money. These things are certainly not guaranteed when you enter your work, but knowing they are a possible outcome is exciting!
If you win a contest, seeing your byline on a website and/or in print is an exciting milestone for your work. And contest prizes range greatly in dollar amount, but are frequently around $1,000.
4) Resume Boost if Selected
If your essay, story or poetry is selected as a winning contest piece, you’ll want to be certain and update your resume accordingly to reflect your accomplishment! Also, when you write future cover letters when submitting short form literature, or if you eventually query an agent you’ll be able to include the achievement in the body of the letter.
It’s important to point out that if you’ve not won a contest, it’s in no way a deterrent to an editor or agent reading your cover letter/query. However, having a win to report can only serve to help you.
5) Submitting Your Work is an Accomplishment in and of Itself
I still remember the feeling I had years ago, when I submitted a short story into a contest for the very first time. It was a Writer’s Digest contest, and though I did not win, I gained so much from that simple act of sending my work out into the world.
I vividly recall calling my mother (who is also a writer) and telling her that I somehow felt my work was validated now that I was no longer keeping it to myself. It was a sense of pride, and it propelled me forward, inspiring me to write more consistently and to continue to hone my craft.
Are you ready to submit your work into a writing contest?
An excellent place to begin perusing your options is through the Poets & Writers database. It’s a free resource, and it gets updated regularly. If you haven’t already, in time you’ll find the magazines/journals that best suit your work. You’ll want to check their websites once in a while to be sure and stay up-to-date on their contests as well.
At 2 Elizabeths, we’d love for you to check out our Love & Romance Writing Contest, with a grand prize of $1,000, and a deadline of November 1, 2017. You can get the details here.
Elise Holland is co-founder and editor of 2 Elizabeths, a short fiction and poetry publication. Her work has appeared in various publications, most recently in Story a Day, and at JaneFriedman.com. Through 2 Elizabeths, Elise strives to create value and visibility for writers, through writing contests, events, and more!