Another month has come and gone, speeding by me yet again. But with the race of another lunar cycle comes an opportunity to reach through the virtual world toward the writers that make up The Insecure Writer’s Support Group. This wonderfully supportive group of anxiety-prone  nervous um… creative, yeah that’s the word. This wonderfully supportive group of creative writers has a great deal to say about surviving: writing, revising, querying, publishing and many other activities linked to a writing career. If you’re similarly inclined, or just plain curious, hop on over and give their blogs a look. You might just enjoy a laugh or two.

On to my post. 🙂

This month I want to discuss writing contests.

Submit a Google search for writing contests, and you’ll get pages of hits. Contests that range from large to small, expensive to free, short story to novel-length, etc… In effect, an entry into whichever niche you feel your work best belongs. A foray into the size pond you feel you belong.

Do you feel like a big fish? Well, there are opportunities to submit to the big stage, make a real splash. You may even be lauded as a genius in front of the biggest agents in the business. Sweet, right?

Or are you just starting out, opportunities abound for you as well. Local writing conferences generally have associated contests that allow you to compete with a smaller pool of writers. I’d dipped my toe in that particular small pond. I didn’t win, but I did end up in the final five, providing a boon to my fragile ego and a momentarily calming effect on my insecurities.

So why am I telling you all this? Well, I’m thinking of jumping into an even bigger pool. Taking on a much bigger body of water. And I wanted to know, what are your experiences with writing contests? Has it helped you grow as a writer? 


About kimlajevardi

I am a forty-something-year-old writer. I'm currently drafting my second book. I've also written short stories, poems, and some non-fiction over the last several years. My interest in writing formed during countless hours with my nose tucked in books. I may have even been clutching a novel as I was born. :)
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26 Responses to IWSG

  1. I think quite a few people have sold based on contest wins. When I wrote romance, I watched numerous people land sales, especially after winning the big unpubbed romance award, The Golden Heart. Like conferences, it’s just a way to stand out in a very large crowd!

  2. Leanne Ross says:

    I was thinking about trying my hand at a contest as well. Hasn’t happened yet.

    Leanne Ross ( readfaced.wordpress.com & @LeanneRossRF )

  3. stusharp says:

    I’ve done a couple of poetry ones, but I don’t like the economics of them. In many cases, it feels like a way for the contest organizers to get a lot of attention/content without having to pay for it. Like only the two or three people who hit the prizes get much from them. I’m sure that’s not the case for all, but I get very wary around ‘showcases’ and the like.

  4. M. Ziegler says:

    I’ve entered before, but unless you place, you never seem to get feedback. Therefore knowing what you did wrong or why you didn’t place is a mystery. If you already know the ins and out to writing then you’ll be published in no time anyway. I did not see a huge benefit to most contests. And the entrance fees really add up.

    • kimlajevardi says:

      A lack of feedback can be a definite drawback. The contest I was looking at was free to enter, but it’s a moot point because I wasn’t ready when te entry period closed. Thanks for commenting.

  5. T.F.Walsh says:

    When I started writing I entered a lot of contests and learnt a lot…:)

  6. When I got back into writing I did a lot of online flash fiction but I never paid for anything and whenever I looked at contest stuff, there always seemed an entry fee!

  7. lexacain says:

    I used to enter contests, especially ones judged by agents. You learn a lot that way. But at the end, mostly I learned that agents will not necessarily choose the best — just what they think they have the connections to sell or what the current trend is.

    • kimlajevardi says:

      That’s definitely something to consider. That last contest I entered was judged at the final level by an agent, which was the selling feature for me. Learning more would be a tremendous benefit. I really want to move to the next level, and that will take more craft.

  8. Chris says:

    Writing contests kinda frighten me. You must be very brave to even consider it. Or maybe you’re just um…what’s the word? Talented.

    I entered one back when I wrote screenplays. It was nice to get detailed feedback on my story, but the wait was excruciating and it was a humbling experience to learn that there are thousands of writers in any given contest and most of them were better than me. (But I did receive high marks for not having any typos, so that’s something)

    I’m not the type to talk someone out of an experience that may be beneficial but I sorta agree with Medeia — maybe going directly to the agents/editors is more beneficial. Or try a few contests first and then decide. Good luck!

  9. Kirsten says:

    I’ve thought that writing contests would be a great next step, as my confidence is starting to grow–I know, I’m asking for trouble! But I’m hoping that having some expert eyes look over my stuff, and maybe getting some feedback would sharpen my skills.
    But so far, I’ve not taken the plunge. (After all, I’m insecure! 😉 )

    • kimlajevardi says:

      IF I take the plunge on the one I’m considering, it’ll be my third foray into novel contests. So I’m still a newbie by every measure. But my second time produced a finalist status, so I’m excited to jump into a bigger pool.

      You should try. If you’re already insecure, it couldn’t get any worse. Give it a go. 🙂

  10. I admit, I’ve never entered one. But go for it! What’s the worst that could happen?

  11. M.L. Swift says:

    I have entered a few contests at the last minute with pieces that weren’t up to my standards, so when they didn’t place, I wasn’t disappointed. But I like contests and have a few that I’m considering…just have to write something that fits. Seems like it would add a little clout to your resume when querying—for agents and editors to see that someone outside your circle values your work (and not just your mom). 🙂

  12. I love them. I keep a list of competitions and if I have a story at the time of the deadline, I enter. It’s a comparatively quick turn around – waiting for agents can take a long time – and it gives you a reason to check email! It’s a nice break if you’re in the middle of a novel. I’ve got a couple I’m hoping to enter in the next couple of months.

  13. I stopped entering them many years ago. They were exciting at first, but after entering dozens, I realized my energy was better spent on submitting to agents and editors. I think they’re great for some people, though.

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