10 advantages of entering writing competitions.
Entering a writing competition may seem daunting, but there are so many advantages that it pays to have a try
1. We’ll start with the obvious — you could win.
Often there’s a cash prize, which I’m sure is always welcome, but sometimes there’s a chance to win something money can’t buy. For example winning, or being placed, in writing competitions has earned me dinner in the house of commons (where my work was performed) tea with the local mayor, feedback from publishers, a place in an anthology alongside Jeffrey Archer and publication of my first novel Escape to the Country. The publicity or possibly even credibility which can come from a win might be valuable too.
If there’s a trophy for the winner you’ll have to polish it, but it makes a nice talking point on the mantelpiece.
2. Competitions have deadlines.
That might seem like a disadvantage, but if you’re a procrastinator (like me) or just lazy (yep, me again) that push to get something finished on time might be just what you need.
3. Often they’ll be a theme. Or there might be words, situations or locations to include. These act as useful prompts and can encourage you to write on a subject, or in a form or genre, you might not otherwise have considered. (I won £1,000 for a poem although I’m most definitely not a poet, because the theme inspired me and the entry requirements guided me.)
There are competitions for short stories (I’ve seen them for 6 words!) novels and anything in between. For articles, poems, plays, essays, jokes, reviews, letters, travel writing and even for creative insults.
4. They boost your confidence.
Naturally winning or being placed will do that, but just having completed something and sent it off is a good feeling.
5. Competitions have rules.
Another one which sounds less of an advantage than it is. If we wish our work to be published we’ll have to comply with guidelines, house style and possibly unwritten rules. We’ll also need to be prepared to read the small print on contracts, so we might as well get used to it.