Writers! Enter Contests! Join the Excitement!


My first competition was the Writer’s Digest contest. You would think a beginner would know better than to enter such a huge contest, but I was very naïve. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise - ignorance can be bliss. But truth be known, I would not have expected to win if there had been only 100 entries. Most writers seem to have the same insecurities, so I have come to the conclusion that such humility is a self-defense mechanism, a balm for the disappointment of not winning.

Thus, my entry was an act of futility – a dash for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, a quest for the Irish shamrock. I entered for the fun of it because I had a very unique story that I told from a very cool angle… and because the entry fee was only $15.

Months later, I received a large manila envelope from Writer’s Digest. Inside was a certificate for Honorable Mention. I stared at it in shock, and then read the accompanying letter that congratulated me for beating out 16,000 entries. I sat dumbfounded, and stared again at the Honor Award with newfound respect.

I learned a lot that day. I learned that it’s worth investing a few bucks to take a chance, and that taking chances can lead to new and exciting adventures. I learned that no matter how the deck is stacked, I still have a chance of coming out in a winning position. I learned that I would have never had that wonderful moment in my life if I hadn’t thrown caution to the wind and invested $15. And I have since learned that investing in myself increases my faith in my own writing abilities.

Entering that one contest gave me the courage to enter others. I also learned that it takes a unique story, told from a unique angle, to win a prize.

As a writer, you will know when you hit upon a unique idea or angle, and when you do, don’t waste it on a magazine submission. Save it for a contest. (As contestants can only enter unpublished material.)

If you have not entered contests, you’re missing a lot of fun. There are multiplied dozens of writer’s groups on the net, and most if not all of them have writing contests. Or you can search the word “writing contests” and come up with zillions to enter.

Look for these three things:

  • Reading fees

  • Entry fees

  • Deadline

Fees generally total from $20 to $35. Contests that award huge prizes will cost more, as the entry fees subsidize the awards.

Don’t be hasty. Choose your contests wisely and enter at least twice a year. Placing in one contest will fire you up for months to come. Dig out the best story you have, render a few edits, and see for yourself what entering contests will do for you.

You’re worth it. Go ahead. Take a chance. Jump into adventure!