Why Writing Contests Are Valuable

I’ve mentioned writing contests a few times, but until recently, I’ve never entered one. Though it would be a nice bonus to win, my goal is to grow as a writer and share my work with others.

In general, there are several benefits of writing contests:

  • It gives us an opportunity to experiment with different writing styles, genres, and techniques.
  • Following the rules of the contest is good preparation for following the specific guidelines (rules) of submitting our work to an agent or publisher. In either case, if we don’t follow the rules, our work will be summarily rejected.
  • Preparing our entry provides a creative break from what we are currently writing.
  • Contests are a relatively safe way to share our work with others and put our art in the public eye. Again, this is preparation to what it is like to submit our writing or see it in print.

Other possible outcomes:

  • We may get some feedback. This is not normally the case, and we should not expect it, but if we do, the comments are invaluable.
  • Our submission may be posted online. For some contests, the top entries are posted online so people can vote for the best one.
  • If we win, our work will likely be published, be it online or on paper. This is both affirming and credential building. We need to enjoy it, relish it, and tell others about it. If it is online, we should be sure to link to it.
  • A few contests award prize money or some other reward.

Some contests require an entry fee. This compensates judges and helps cover prize money. Contests awarding the better prizes or using in-demand judges often have a submission fee. However, before you pay an entry fee, make sure the contest is legit and not a scam.

What do you think? Please leave a comment!