The Importance of Being Competitive

Do you like what I did with the title there?

Nah, I didn’t think it was that good either…

Today I want to talk about writing competitions and how important they are to a fledgling writer. It’s sometimes as easy as Googling “writing competitions”, but other times you’ll only hear about them by word of mouth.

I’ll start by giving you a list of current competitions that you can enter:

  • Fish Publishing – These guys run four competitions annually, including a Short Story and Flash Fiction competition. It’s judged by renowned poets and authors and the prize is pretty good.
  • Writers’ Forum – This site runs a monthly short story contest. It’s a reputable site and well worth a look.
  • Whidbey Writing Competition – A contest based in the USA, but open worldwide. You can write about anything and for any audience.
  • Cazart – You can enter short stories or flash fiction, you can swear and it’s £5 to enter. It’s open throughout 2012 each month, so get over and have a look!
  • Flash 500 – A humorous verse contest. The prizes are pretty decent, for the length of your piece (30 lines).
  • Cinnamon Press – These guys run a range of writing competitions, which change regularly. It’s a good idea to bookmark their competition page.
  • Fantasy Writing Contest – This is a yearly contest, run by Fantasy Faction, for fantasy writers. If your story wins, it gets entered into an anthology with a host of other well authors’ work. They start taking submissions from 1st January 2013.

You might be thinking, ‘Yeah, so what? I might win a small amount of money, but I might not win anything at all.’

Well that’s not the attitude to have. If you’re serious about your writing and you want it to lead somewhere one day, it’s a really good idea to enter some competitions. Here are the benefits that I see from taking part:

  1. You’re committed to finishing a piece of writing (especially if there’s an entry fee).
  2. You’re focused on an end goal and possibly a prize.
  3. You’re usually confined to a particular genre/theme.
  4. In some cases, you make connections with other writers and it’s great for networking.
  5. It maintains your “edge”.

That’s right – like the knives in your kitchen drawer, there’s always one that’s sharper than all the rest. If you want to be successful, you need to make sure that’s you. Writing contests are great for honing your skills, expanding your toolset and exercising your “writer’s brain”.

If there’s one thing you do today, why not commit to entering a competition and start planning out your story?

I’m also going to do a special series of posts during the approach to NaNoWriMo in November, to help you get prepared and learn all about this annual tournament.

If you’ve got any questions about entering competitions or need some advice on writing, drop us a comment below!

~ James

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3 thoughts on “The Importance of Being Competitive

  1. mlfables 27-Sep-2012 / 14:23

    I’ve been thinking of entering some of my short fiction into competitions, but seemingly most of them require an entry fee (nothing much, just $20 or so).

    Is it standard fare to charge to enter writing competitions? (I avoided fee paying comps, as I thought they were scams).

    • James 27-Sep-2012 / 15:11

      Good question! A lot of competitions will be free, but some (especially the big ones with big prizes) do charge a small fee. The best competitions have an optional fee that you can pay and they will review your work and critique it if it’s not successful in winning.

      I wouldn’t advise you to ignore fee-charging competitions entirely, but make sure to do some research and make sure they’re reputable before entering. Set aside a small amount of money to pay entry fees and don’t pay more than you can afford.

      I’ve seen that standard fees range from around £2-£15 (GBP). Anything more than that I would be cautious of. A lot of time and effort does go into these competitions and they usually give away a monetary prize, so I don’t personally feel a small entry fee is too much to ask. Most importantly, it’s down to you – only pay what you think is fair and affordable. Charging more to enter doesn’t make the competition better than any others.

  2. quirkybooks 28-Sep-2012 / 18:09

    Hello James. Thank you for linking to http://www.beatredundancyblues.wordpress.com. Just to let you know that the competition closing date was today but I will hopefully have more competitions in the future. You give some great advice and information, thanks for sharing.

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