Wednesday, April 3, 2013

C is for Contests

Seven Reasons Why Contests will Improve your Writing, Increase your Productivity and help you Find the Motivation you've been Missing.

Pick your poison, writing contests are everywhere. One line pitches to full length novels. With the internet, there's a contest to fit any genre and any taste. Contests can be a great way to boost your writing and broaden your skills, and I've got seven reasons why straight ahead.

But, before we dive in, I'd better give you the warning spiel. If you're entering the world of writing contests, make sure you pick your poison wisely, little grasshopper. Do your research into any contest you may be entering. Look into the sponsors and their credentials. Consider what rights and responsibilities they, and you, will retain when it's all over. It may save you a lot of headaches in the end.

And now, on to:
Seven Reason Why You Should Be Entering Writing Contests

Tick Tick Tick - Is That a Deadline I Hear?
Admit it, having a deadline is a great motivator. And having one set in stone  - by someone else - that you can't fudge - is even better. Committing to a contest pushes you to prioritize your writing. And that, my friend, will make you write more. And we all know that more writing tends to improve our writing. Bonus!

GPS for the Writer's Soul
Many writing contests have some theme or quote or idea as a jumping off place. (On the Premises is a good example of this). Sometimes half the battle of writing is finding that spark to get you thinking. Well, here's your spark. Themed contests may also help your imagination flow in new ways, opening you to different perspectives and new writing experiences.

Word Bean Counter
 Micro? Flash? Short? Novel? Each length has its own pacing and flow that makes a story work well. Experimenting with different lengths is a great way to understand your writing. You may be surprised at the insights you discover about your strengths an weaknesses. Need I add that shorter lengths will force you to learn how to tighten your writing?

Many contests, particularly those hosted on writing websites, have an element of peer review or critiquing. This is a fantastic opportunity! You have the chance to see how a diverse audience views your work. Always consider everything people say, and not just about your own work. Critiquing others is just as useful. As you go through this process of give and take, you'll pick up so many valuable insights.

Finish It, Already
Quite frankly, contests are about the only thing that gets me to 'The End.' I could fiddle forever, changing this word, or that phrase and still never be satisfied. Are you the same? A contest forces you to 1) finish and 2) admit you're finished. That alone, for me, is worth the price of admission

Adrenaline Rush
There's nothing quite like the maniacal surety as you write that your story is the most awesome thing ever to come into existence. The butterflies as you hit send. The pins and needles of waiting. And the roller coaster as the results come in. Win or lose, the ride is addictive.
Fabulous Prizes
Okay, of course, the best reward is finishing, the camaraderie of fellow participants and getting those invaluable reviews. But, in  your heart of hearts, don't tell me you haven't secretly dreamed of Fame, Glory, and/or Monetary Gain. Also, ARCs, professional crits and all that other good stuff. Oh, aren't I the materialistic one to actually admit that on paper pixels?

Anyway, just a few reasons. But, if you haven't given contests a try, or if you're only an occasional participant, I'd recommend giving it a few more minutes of your consideration. You might just find something there worth writing about.



  1. I've never entered any contests other than those just for fun ones on Hatrack (and even then not very often). But they do sound fun. Maybe I'll give one a try. :)

    Great Post!

  2. I'm in the same boat as MaryAnn. Hatrack, Nanowrimo and Prosers are the only reasons I can still call myself a writer. Great post!

  3. I've never done a contest, just because I'm too insecure to think I could ever win. But it does sound like it's a good motivator.

  4. I love contests, whether they be for prizes or for pride. Prizes are always good; no shame in admitting that. It's just an extra bit of joy when something you love helps pay the bills!

  5. I'm right on the edge of talking myself into entering a contest. I'm putting it off right now. It's so hard to stay focused on writing when pregnant. But I love your reasons--they're perfect motivators! I'm coming back to this next year when I'm more prepared to go for it.


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