Entering writing competitions is worth not just for the thrill of winning but also for the discipline and writing practice one develops along the way. If we analyze the whole process we will see that there are quite a few benefits worth considering.
Winning a sum of money is great, but is it only money that can measure a writer’s success? Definitely not! In writing competitions there are often other benefits to look for that could be more valuable than money especially in the long run.
One of them is prestige. Having the chance to use “award-winning” in your author bio, in a query letter to a literary agent or in your self-promotion efforts will certainly help with being noticed.
Does the competition offer multiple prizes or just awards one winner? Having first, second and third prize means the organizers are making a serious commitment and have put a lot of thought in the whole process. It is not only the size of the prize that matters, but the added value of the competition itself.
Does the competition offer feedback or will you send your work and not even get a receipt confirmation? We are more prone to believe that people have read our piece when feedback is offered. And of course it also means they care, especially when the feedback offered is effective.
Does the prize offer any publicity? Maybe the participation in the competition offers publicity or promotional materials that can be further used for marketing your writing? That’s an opportunity you should grab!
Does the competition offer a publication – in a magazine, in an anthology or on a website? This can be used to build your audience and make your name a recognizable brand.
Deadlines can also be something very positive and help you work on your self-discipline. Most writers know that procrastination is the killer of great stories. A competition deadline can help you overcome this. Get it done and move on to the next project!
“And if I don’t win the competition?” There is not so much to lose – maybe the entry fee (in most cases the cost of a cup of coffee). But by taking part in competitions you not only perfect your writing craft by working more on your piece, but you also develop your self-discipline by following deadlines and rules and show your work to other people, which is beneficial for your confidence as an author.
You are sure that you have written a real gem of a poem/short-story/novel – that’s great! Even if you don’t win one competition, you can always submit your work elsewhere.