Have you lost your writing mojo? Does finishing another sentence seem like a chore? Every writer has days like these, but the good news is you’re not alone and you can turn things around.
Whether you’re struggling to write or you simply need to flex your writing muscles, entering a writing contest is a great way to step out of your usual routine and get inspired. Apart from the cash prizes and the chance to be published, there are other benefits you may not have even considered.
If you’re still not convinced, the following reasons just might change your mind…
The Benefits of Writing Contests
Improve Your Writing Skills
Writing contests are a fantastic way to improve your skills as a freelance writer and develop your writing style. In many ways, they’re not dissimilar to any other writing assignment:
- You gain experience writing on a specific topic or theme.
- You have to stick to a specific word count and deadline.
- You can sharpen up your writing style and editing skills.
All of these things add to your experience and will ultimately help you to become a better, more rounded writer.
Entering a contest gives you a real opportunity to discipline yourself. With a strict deadline to meet, you’ll have a solid reason to write and fewer excuses not to. Distractions are a common enemy of the writer, but having a deadline in sight will force you to focus on the task at hand.
Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
It’s easy to stay in your comfort zone, but it’s only by taking risks that you can tap into your more creative side and grow as a writer. You may hit some roadblocks, but you’ll also uncover new strengths.
Having the boundaries of a competition forces you into an unfamiliar situation, which makes you seek and discover new ways to approach your writing. Even if you don’t win any prize, you’ll teach yourself that you can take risks and go after what you want.
Gain Exposure and Boost Your Resume
Many writing contests will post a list of honourable mentions, even if you don’t get into the top three. These mentions are a valuable asset you can use in your writing resume. Getting your name out there means you’ll be exposed to other writers and content publishers, increasing your chances of being offered future work.
The Rewards of the Challenge
Apart from all the other benefits, entering a writing competition is a simple way to improve your self-esteem. It’s something you can talk about with friends and family. It also gives you the opportunity to engage with other writers who might also be challenging themselves.
There are hundreds of writer forums online where you can connect with other writers. You can ask questions, talk about your challenges, and share writing tips. This social side of the writing process is a great way to sharpen your knowledge and even make new friends. Even if you don’t win a cash prize, you’ll definitely improve your self-confidence.
Four Contests to Get You Started
1. NOWW Writing Contest
The Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop contest comes early in the new year, with a first prize of $125 for its Creative Non-Fiction category.
2. 53-Word Story Contest
Prime Number magazine offers monthly contests with a prize of publication and a free book.
3. Biopage Mini-Essay Writing Contest
Enter an essay of around 1,000 words on your chosen topic, with a $1,000 top prize and runner-up prizes too.
4. The Fountain Essay Contest
The annual essay contest around the theme of philosophy and spirituality offers five top prizes, with this year’s topic on personal challenges.
Be sure to check the websites for deadlines and submission rules.
Over to You
It may feel scary at first, but hopefully by now you can see the advantages of entering a writing contest. It’s a great opportunity to practice your writing skills and build your self-confidence, whether you win or not. There’s also the feeling of accomplishment you’ll get from simply entering a competition. And with many contests free to enter, you have more to gain than lose.
So get out your pen or open your laptop, get creative, and take the plunge into the world of writing contests. As the celebrated American writer William Faulkner said: “Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.”