What are writing competitions? Why should I pay to enter?

What’s a writing competition? Why is it different from other writing things? Well, quite simply; it’s a competition that you enter with a piece of your own writing, and hopefully you win it! There’s a prize (usually money, but sometimes just the pride of being chosen as winner) and the winning piece will usually get published somewhere. Sometimes there’s an entry fee, and sometimes the competition is directed towards something – some publishers or magazines run competitions for the first chapter of a story, or a book proposal. However, there are a very wide variety of competitions – from poetry inspired by Shakespeare, to themed short stories, to flash fiction, to novel extracts. What are the pros and cons of writing competitions? Pros: Winning gets you fame and fortune! You get noticed, get money (or other prizes), and you can put the win on your writing CV. A deadline and word count are often good motivators to write. You’re often in with a chance to be published. The competitive element can be inspirational; you’ve got to be good to win! It’s an immediate satisfaction – or at least, better than six months of silence from an agent or publisher. There’s a wide variety of competitions to suit all levels of experience. You can write what you want, in your style – although if you want a theme, there are competitions with prompts and themes. Cons: You don’t get paid unless you win. You often have to pay to enter. Not all writers like the competition element, or see winning as a worthwhile prize. The lack of a theme or direction (as opposed to submission calls) can be off-putting. You don’t get feedback, so it can be hard to know why your work didn’t win or how close it did get… read more →