Do you feel like your writing is not nearly as good as it should be? One of the most viable solutions to this problem is to take part in a writing contest. Although this approach might seem strange, writing contests are beneficial to writers of all levels of experience.
With the topic inspiration provided by many contests, you can work your way to being a more versatile and established writer. However, the most beneficial part is that people in the writing industry will read your work and give valuable feedback.
Even if you don’t win, you will still get attention and recognition in addition to a chance to improve on your writing. By placing a well-written and well-planned entry, you will get more people to visit your website and turn them into potential loyal readers.
If you don’t have experience with writing contests, there is no need to worry. Here are some tips to better prepare and take your writing to the next level and a list of some of the best writing contests for 2019.
What you need most is a healthy dose of motivation. Do you want to compete with the best writers in the world? Are you a hard worker who’s hungry to see results? What about the opportunity to win a hefty sum of award money?
Different things motivate different people. Before you learn how to participate in writing contests, you have to think about why you’re doing it. What drives you? If you don’t have a reason or if you just want to appease your ego, your writing will suffer.
Having focus and motivation is step 1 in winning a writing contest. If you don’t have a tangible goal or reason to participate, maybe a writing mentor can help you.
Once you’ve found your motivation to compete, it’s time to think about the best way to approach these challenges. These effective tips will allow you to rise to the occasion and let your writing shine as much as possible.
Before you embark on a journey to win a particular writing contest, you need to have the future in mind. Conduct research about all the contests that might interest you, and select the most interesting ones.
Some are oriented toward poetry or short fiction, for example, and prizes for two of the competitions include trips to a picturesque region of central Italy. Are you interested now?
You have to make sure you leave enough time between contests to be able to present your best work. Avoid writing multiple entries at the same time, as you won’t be able to commit to one task fully.
No matter how splendid your tone and vocabulary are, you can’t afford to ignore the rules. Writing contests are notoriously strict and don’t even consider entries that don’t comply with the rules. Read the instructions carefully before working on any ideas.
You can also seek out past contestants and ask them for tips. Go to the contest’s website and look up past writers, or search for online reviews and forums. Most of them are young, aspiring writers such as yourself. Don’t hesitate to ask for advice.
Also, be prepared to encounter unrealistic demands from the judges’ panel. It’s OK to reconsider your entry if you feel like the rules will limit you too much. A friend once got rejected because her short story fell short by 80-odd words when she was supposed to have exactly 5,000 words.
I can’t emphasize this enough! The most common cause of failure in essay writing contests isn’t a lack of talent or insufficient knowledge. Instead, even the most skilled writers can have problems with organizing themselves. They start writing their entries too late and end up delivering subpar work.
Give yourself enough time, and organize yourself. It’s impossible to write every day, nonstop. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many contests or other major projects so that you don’t jeopardize your content.
A good idea would be to send the text to a writing mentor or proofreading service. By doing so, you will save time in self-editing. And be sure that the entries are clear and error-free.
You should also think about your best and worst times to write, and make a daily plan as well.
Entering a myriad of contests at the same time can be overwhelming for any writer. I advise against entering multiple contests at the same time. You should avoid this if you plan to show the world great texts, not just another writing spam.
Doing one after another is also a bad idea. Leave yourself some time to rest and recuperate.
Always have deadlines written out in a spreadsheet so you know if it’s necessary to speed up your writing. Going old-school and using sticky notes is still a great approach.
Google Keep has excellent options for storing important deadlines and reminders. Keeping track of contests also decreases your chances of approaching a subject the wrong way. You always need to keep in mind the goal of each competition.
A writing contest entry isn’t just a claim to glory. It’s a work of art with your name written on it. Even though the rules are the basis for entry, your inspiration should be the main driving force.
Develop your ideas first, and accommodate them to the rules and restrictions. Many writers look at the rules first and then focus on expressing their ideas. This approach can severely limit your influx of ideas.
Write down keywords, and then shape the ideas and events around the rules. This way takes much less time and results in much better writing. Seek inspiration, and then apply it to the conditions of each specific writing contest.
Don’t forget the importance of artistic freedom. Every writer is different and has different preferences, so expect to encounter contests with rules and styles that you find too demanding.
It’s OK to forego your entry and find something else that suits you. Writing should be an activity that brings pleasure and peace into your life, not something you should force yourself to do.
Now that you know how to participate in writing contests, it’s time to break down a list of some of the top writing contests, with explanations on what to focus on for each one.
If you write children’s fiction, this is perhaps the best contest you can enter. With an entry fee of just £18 (about $25), you won’t have to worry about any unnecessary expenses.
To enter, you have to write a novel, ranging from 30,000 to 80,000 words. It needs to be a previously unpublished work of fiction. The main prize is a worldwide publishing contract with Chicken House with a £10,000 (about $13,134) advance plus representation from a top children’s literary agent.
The writer is disqualified if they have previously published a children’s novel. However, this only goes for commercial publishing. Self-published works can be entered.
Entry to the 2019 competition has now closed. The annual competition opens on Aug. 31. You can find more on Twitter (@chickenhsebooks).
This writing contest can be challenging for younger writers, so I advise you to avoid it if you don’t have previous experience writing children’s fiction.
The Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize is awarded to the most successful and outstanding collection of poems officially published (both commercially and independently) in the U.S. Submissions are accepted Jan. 1 to May 15 each year.
It’s awarded yearly, with a prize of $25,000 and a 10-day stay at Glen Hollow in New York. This contest gives you the opportunity to present your work and distribute your book to members of the Academy of American Poets.
What makes this contest ideal for poets is that it isn’t oriented toward a particular type of poetry. Patriotism, symbolism, and even surrealism marked some of the previous winning poems. The judges are unbiased and seek quality regardless of the subject that you’ve chosen. The main requirement is that your poetry must be original.
Aussiewritings has organized perhaps the most enticing essay writing competition 2019 has to offer. With a $1,000 prize for the winner, it’s a nice financial boost and a worthy challenge.
There are five different topics that seem fairly specific when you look at them for the first time. However, they offer you a ton of space to improvize and reflect on the subject in your own way.
The essay has to be between 800 and 1,000 words. The deadline is May 31, and you can submit as many essays as you want. Don’t hesitate to develop ideas and send several entries.
With the Brill Essay Writing Contest, you have a chance to gain valuable exposure without investing too much effort. Pick one of the five topics, and reflect on them thoroughly and descriptively to gain the attention of the judges.
They value creativity and unorthodox approaches. This allows you to experiment and not be restrained by any strict rules or limitations.
In addition to a $500 prize, your essay will be posted on the Brill Assignment blog and be heavily promoted. If you’re looking for new job opportunities, getting your work posted on a renowned blog is a great start. The deadline for submission is June 30 by 11:59 PST.
Less is more, right? Apparently so, if you look at the success and popularity of this strange writing contest.
Expressing complex thoughts in just 53 words is no small task, even for the most seasoned fiction and nonfiction writers. Titles are not included in the word count, but you must be precise. Entries with one word more or less are disqualified.
One other great aspect of this contest is that it’s technically never-ending. Every 21st of the month is a deadline for that month’s assignment. If you win, your story will be published along with the photo and 53-word bio in Issue 157 of Prime Number Magazine on July 1, 2019.
The topics change after each deadline, so you can try every time. It’s a contest for the more adventurous writers.
Hunger Mountain—an American literary magazine—is organizing a terrific writing contest for fiction writers. To enter, pay the $20 entrance fee, and submit a story shorter than 10,000 words. One first place winner receives $1,000 and online publication. The deadline for 2019 was March 1, but you can try next year.
The rules are less strict than in other contests, meaning you can channel your inspiration freely. The previous winning stories are written in simple language, but featured compelling twists and artistic additions. Be inspired and do your best.
The PEN/Faulkner award is one of the most prestigious in the world. Only American citizens may enter, by submitting a novel, novella, or even a collection of short stories.
It’s meant for books that have already been published; though self-published books are not accepted. There are no forms, entry fees, or expenses whatsoever.
All you have to do is send four copies of your book to their address by October 31 and wait for the results. Another interesting thing is that the budget for awards changes from year to year, so you never know what you’re in for.
Look at this writing contest as the polar opposite of the PEN/Faulkner Award. It’s meant for self-published books only, with very interesting prizes. The new competition opens April 12, 2019, with a deadline of April 1, 2020.
The winner gets an SPR promo package with sales, Amazon reviews, and inclusion in several prominent categories on Amazon. In addition to this, you also get an e-badge.
The rules indicate that the book has to exist on Amazon, in English. Entries without the author’s permission are disqualified, as are unoriginal works. There are no limitations in terms of subject, length, size, or genre.
Organized by the Academy of American Poets, this prestigious writing contest is meant for all unpublished writers. All you have to do is send a poetry manuscript, and you may win $5,000 as well as a publishing deal with Graywolf Press. This isn’t all—the winner will travel to Italy for a six-week residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Umbria.
The contest is almost 50 years old and is one of the most reputable in the world. Submissions are accepted Sept. 1 to Nov. 1 each year. If you think you have what it takes, organize your work and enter.
The Desperate Literature writing contest caused a lot of stir when it was announced. With an attractive prize of €1000 (about $1,125) and a residency at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation—a castle in rural Italy—it gives you valuable experience with pretty lax rules. Your task is to write a short work of fiction under 2,000 words, with no particular limitations or directions.
What you should focus on is uniqueness. Think about something that hasn’t been developed or published before, and emphasize the crux of the idea. Since this is a competitive contest, you will put your English skills to the test.
If you already have work that might fit the bill, all you have to do is send it in. The first prize also includes consulting sessions with a U.S. literary agent.
Unfortunately, this year’s contest deadline has passed. It was on Feb. 28. However, the names of winners will be announced on April 17, so you can look at what type of writing this contest is looking for and prepare yourself for the next year.
By entering a writing contest, you can get out of your comfort zone and engage in some healthy competition. Whatever your motivation is, you will come out of the experience as a better and more experienced writer.
Remember to make a yearly plan, to read the rules carefully, and to do your best. Everything else is easy if you let your inspiration flow. Be creative and consistent in your writing habits.
If you are interested in more genre-specific contests, check out the Goodreads forums, or do a simple Google search. There are many contests open at all times. Good luck!
Ellie Chapman is a freelance writer, content manager, and blogger. When not writing, she loves to read good books, travel and take pictures on her digital camera. Follow her on Twitter for more.