For some odd reason, many aspiring writers turn their nose up at the thought of entering writing competitions. Here are two possible reasons why this happens:
The writer may be in danger of contracting 'authoritis'. This is a term I have coined for those newbies who get 'precious' about their writing and refuse to taint their literary baby with the foul soil of commerce. To them I say this: get real. Writing as a professional means writing for money - indeed, Dr. Johnson once said words to the effect of 'only an idiot writes for anything but money'.
Now this might be taking a stance that could be seen as somewhat bullish but it has its basis in fact. Unless your ambition is to be a purely 'literary author' - writing prose for the sheer beauty of it - then you will need to make money. Competitions can be worth money - some of them quite large amounts.
The second reason new writers seem to shy away from competition is simple: it's fear. Fear, that is, of losing and being ridiculed as a worthless amateur who really should never have been allowed to enter in the first place. In fact, never should have held a pen/learned to write/been born in the first place. Go ahead - laugh. To many people these feeling are very real (one good reason for joining a writers' group!) and it can take time - sometimes a long time - to allay them. To these unfortunates I can only say this: fortune favours the brave. Bravery is not foolhardiness - it's mastering your fear of something and beating it. So be brave! Submit that story! Do it now! Anyway, here are some more observations and advice regarding writing competitions:
For any writer, writing competitions give them a chance to go head-to-head with their peers and be judged by people that know the writing game and can give objective results.
There are literally dozens of competitions to enter, for both poetry and prose, all over the World and throughout the year - some of the main ones are listed here. But there are some things to watch out for when entering them - Ill list a few dos and dont's below.
If you follow the above advice, you will be ahead of probably a third of the entries who have done (or not done) whats listed above. Keep it simple, read the rules and present like a professional. Im not saying it will win the competition for you but at least itll get read!
The next question is, of course - where do I find all these competitions? Ive listed some website addresses below to get you started but writing competitions go on year round, they never stop and there are more to enter than you could ever hope to write for. If youre a new writer, my advice would be to decide on which type of story you want to write and then, in methodical fashion, go through all the lists available marking off the ones in which you wish to compete. This will help you to focus your efforts and hopefully produce results more quickly than if you just adopt a haphazard approach. RSS feeds are available at many of the writing competition websites and I would suggest that you take advantage of them - it just saves time that you can then put towards your writing! Good luck.
Some well-known competition sources
A well-respected site, Poets & Writers Magazine is a comprehensive writers source - well worth a look!
The Jacqui Bennett Writers Bureau (JBWB) is another site that provides a rich resource for writing competition and much more besides. Give it a try.
The National Association of Writers Groups (NAWG) is a UK resource group for writers and has a list of UK festivals and competitions.
Askabout writing.net lists many competitions within its pages. Updated weekly it is a very good source for writers.
There are dozens and dozens more - a simple Google search on 'writing competitions' will give you more opportunities than you could ever get through.
Don't forget the last section! Have a look by clicking here!
Index page 1. Necessary equipment. 2. The importance of the workplace 3. Choosing the right book for you to write. 4. Ideas and how to get them. 5. How to plan a story. 6. How to make characters come to life. 7. Plotting your story. 8. Self-editing and the final draft. 9. Agents and Publishers 10. Writers' groups. 12. Reference works.