Why Enter a Writing Contest
by Steph Beth Nickel
Of course, if we enter a writing contest, we hope to win a cash prize—at least get an honourable mention.
But what if that doesn’t happen—especially if there’s a significant entrants’ fee?
Recently I entered a contest because the organization running the contest needed more entries in a few categories.
Did I hope to at least win a prize equivalent to the entrants’ fee? Absolutely!
Was I disappointed that this didn’t happen? Briefly.
Did I gain something far more valuable? Without a doubt!
This particular contest included numerical scores and comments regarding several areas (formatting, POV, setting, etc.). I found the scores encouraging (for the most part) and the comments insightful.
Many of the negative comments verified things I already suspected and came as no surprise—although, let’s be honest, negative comments can be discouraging at first. We have to process the discouragement and then consider how to apply those insights that we feel will indeed make our writing better.
We also have to analyze the positive comments and press into them in our writing to make sure we further develop the skills we already possess.
So, the truth is that I’m glad I didn’t win a cash prize. If I had, I may not have paid as much attention to the judge’s comments—and my future work would not have benefited.
Here are 13 tips regarding writers’ contests:
- Make sure the organization holding the contest is legitimate.
- Read all the details carefully, including the fine print.
- Find out if there are benefits beyond a cash prize. (i.e.: judge’s comments for all entrants)
- Determine why you want to enter the contest and how you’ll likely feel if you don’t win a cash prize.
- Choose the category/categories you want to enter.
- Read the requirements carefully and follow all instructions to the letter.
- Write the best piece you can.
- If there’s time to put your entry away for a time and then go back to it, do so. We often see things we’d like to rework when we review our work objectively.
- Send off the entry (and submission fee) and get back to writing. Sometimes you won’t hear the results for quite some time.
- If you do receive the judge’s comments, whether you win a prize or not, read them carefully.
- After considering which observations and recommendations will make your writing better, make note of them and put them into practice.
- If there are comments you don’t agree with (which there likely will be), don’t set them aside indefinitely. Revisit them after you’ve had a chance to process your initial emotions and thoughts.
- And if you win—CELEBRATE!
What are your thoughts on entering a writing contest?
Steph Beth Nickel is a freelance editor and writer and an author. If you would like more information about her services, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You’re invited to visit her website: http://stephbethnickeleditor.com/.
You can join her Editing Tips Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/418423519384351.