Saturday, January 25, 2020

Writing Prompt Saturday ~ Writing Contests

Although I've been writing since I was in my single digits, I didn't actually make the effort to publish my work until much later. I have always been rather self-conscious about my writing as there are so many other amazing writers out there. Even with the strongest encouragement from those closest to me, I never had the courage to let it go and allow others to read my stuff. Then, one day, one of my writing mentors sent me a link to a writing contest after reading one of my short stories. After much humming and hawing, I entered it and guess what?

I won.

And if that wasn't enough of an inspiration, the head editor of the contest wrote me a personal note to tell me to get it published. I sent it to a wonderful little magazine (Angels On Earth) that published it in the next month's issue. I guess you can say that that experience was the jump start to my publishing career.

This is just one of the reasons that writing contests are so important. Not only do they keep your skills sharp, but they also give you the chance to get your work out there for others to read even if you don't win. I've had judges contact me requesting a different story as they enjoyed my writing style. I've gotten bloggers asking me to write in a guest spot and have even gotten article offers. Good things can definitely come from the contests whether you win or not. Plus, you can build up some writing samples to try submitting to other publications or, maybe, there's even a book hidden in the short story you just wrote.

Some of the best ones to give a go are flash fiction contests. The reason these are great to try is that they train you to be as succinct as possible. They usually have much lower word count maximums (500 - 1200 words), which means you are forced to say as much as you can with fewer words. I haven't perfected these ones yet but I've gotten better.

Writing contests are everywhere. Just get online and Google different publishers, writing association sites or even sign up for writing newsletters where they have columns listing the latest contests. I have an entire folder filled with contest opportunities. So many, I can't list them all here. BUT I will make an announcement for great ones coming up over at my Facebook author page.

Just be careful when choosing them. Like in every area, there are scammers out there trying to make a buck and prey on hungry writers trying to "make it". There are usually fees involved as that's what helps pay both the judges' time as well as the prize. But don't enter ones that have exuberant fees. Even publishing companies won't charge you an entry fee so huge you need a loan to enter the contest! If you aren't sure about who is running the contest, tap into your writing mentor, editor or publisher friends' experience to see if they've heard of the place running the contest.

So, there you go. Writing contests are another way to get your work out there. Keep trying because one day you never know if you're the one who'll win big.

Happy writing!

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