10 Incredible Writing Contest Tips Revealed

Writing Contest
One on one book coaching with Richard Lowe
Click here to learn about Writing Coaching Services

Embarking on the journey of writing contests can be both exhilarating and intimidating. For many writers, these contests offer a platform to showcase their skills, gain recognition, and even kick-start their writing careers. Understanding the nuances of writing contests, from choosing the right ones to submit to, to crafting a winning entry, is crucial. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the in’s and out’s of writing contests, offering tips and insights to help you navigate this competitive but rewarding landscape. Whether you’re a seasoned writer or just starting, grasping the essence of writing contests can open doors to new opportunities and writing achievements.

Writing contests serve as a battleground for creativity and skill, pitting writers against each other in a quest for literary accolades. Participating in writing contests is more than just an exercise in writing; it’s a commitment to putting your work under scrutiny, to be judged and compared. For writers seeking to test their mettle, improve their craft, and potentially earn recognition, writing contests present an invaluable opportunity. These competitions can range from small, local contests to large, international ones, each offering a different set of rewards and challenges.

The allure of writing contests lies not only in the potential for prizes and acclaim but also in the opportunity for personal growth. As writers participate in these contests, they are exposed to diverse styles and narratives, broadening their own literary horizons. Writing contests challenge authors to push their boundaries, explore new themes, and refine their storytelling techniques. This exposure is a significant benefit of participating in writing contests, as it fosters a deeper understanding and appreciation of the art of writing.

However, navigating the world of writing contests can be daunting, especially for new writers. From finding the right contests to understanding their specific requirements, the process can be overwhelming. This guide aims to demystify writing contests, providing you with the knowledge and tools to confidently participate and succeed. We’ll cover how to find and select contests that align with your writing style, tips for submitting a winning entry, and how to handle feedback and rejection constructively.

Embarking on the path of writing contests is a journey of discovery and growth. It’s an opportunity to showcase your talent, connect with a community of writers, and gain valuable feedback on your work. Writing contests are more than competitions; they’re platforms for learning, sharing, and celebrating the art of writing. As we delve into the world of writing contests, remember that each contest is a step towards honing your craft and achieving your writing aspirations.

Choosing the Right Contest: Aligning with Your Goals

Selecting the appropriate writing contests is the first crucial step in your contest journey. Not all contests are created equal, and finding ones that align with your writing style, genre, and career goals is vital. Research is key; look for contests that cater to your niche, whether it’s fiction, poetry, or non-fiction. Pay attention to the contest’s reputation and history—well-established contests often offer greater exposure and credibility. Remember, the goal is not just to participate, but to find writing contests that can genuinely enhance your writing portfolio and career.

When embarking on the search for suitable writing contests, consider the audience and judges. Some contests are judged by renowned authors or industry professionals whose feedback could be invaluable. Participating in these writing contests can provide insights into your writing that can’t be found elsewhere. Additionally, winning or even placing in a contest judged by respected figures can be a significant boost to your writer’s resume.

Another factor to consider in writing contests is the prize. While monetary rewards are appealing, don’t overlook contests that offer publication, workshops, or networking opportunities as prizes. These can provide long-term benefits for your writing career. Writing contests that offer publication, for instance, can help you reach a wider audience and establish your name in the literary community.

Also, consider the entry fees associated with writing contests. While many reputable contests require a fee to cover administrative costs, weigh the cost against the potential benefits. Free writing contests are a great starting point for beginners, but paid contests might offer more substantial prizes and prestige. Always ensure that the cost of entry is reasonable and within your budget.

Lastly, don’t forget to check the eligibility criteria and previous winners of the writing contests you are considering. This can give you an idea of the contest’s competitiveness and whether your style and level of experience fit well. Carefully selecting the right writing contests can make all the difference in achieving success and satisfaction in your writing journey.

Understanding Writing Contest Rules: A Key to Success

Adhering to the rules of writing contests cannot be overstated. Each contest has its specific set of guidelines regarding format, word count, and submission process. Ignoring these rules can lead to disqualification, no matter how impressive your entry is. It’s not just about crafting a compelling piece; it’s about presenting it according to the contest’s framework. Pay close attention to the details—word limits, formatting preferences, and submission deadlines are all critical in writing contests.

Understanding the theme or topic is another crucial aspect of writing contests. Most contests have specific themes that entries must adhere to. Misinterpreting or ignoring the theme can result in a wasted effort, no matter how well-written your piece is. Take the time to understand the theme thoroughly and craft your submission to align closely with it.

The originality of your submission is also a key factor in writing contests. Plagiarism or rehashing old ideas can not only disqualify your entry but also harm your reputation as a writer. Strive to bring a fresh perspective or a unique voice to the given topic. Originality is often what sets winning entries apart in writing contests.

Respecting the submission process is equally important. This includes how you submit your work, whether it’s through an online portal, email, or physical mail. Follow the instructions to the letter. Incorrectly submitted entries might not even be considered, no matter their quality. Familiarize yourself with the technical aspects of submission for writing contests to ensure your work is received and reviewed.

Finally, consider the rights you retain or transfer when submitting to writing contests. Some contests might require exclusive rights to your work for a period, while others may only require non-exclusive rights. Understanding these details can help you manage your work’s publication rights effectively and avoid any future legal complications.

Crafting a Winning Entry: Tips and Techniques

The core of succeeding in writing contests lies in submitting a piece that stands out. Originality is paramount; your entry should bring something unique to the table. Focus on a strong opening to grab the judges’ attention, and maintain a consistent narrative that showcases your voice and style. Remember, writing contests are not just about good storytelling; they’re about showcasing your ability to engage and surprise the reader. Seek feedback before submission, as a fresh pair of eyes can offer valuable insights to improve your work.

Understanding your audience is crucial in writing contests. Who will be reading your submission? Tailor your writing style and content to resonate with the judges and the contest’s typical audience. If the contest is geared towards a specific demographic or interest group, make sure your entry appeals to those sensibilities.

Impeccable craftsmanship is essential in writing contests. This means meticulous attention to grammar, syntax, and style. Even the most creative story can lose its impact if riddled with errors. Use tools and resources to polish your submission. A well-edited and error-free manuscript not only reads better, but also shows the judges that you take the contest seriously.

The structure and pacing of your story or piece are also critical. Writing contests often have word count limits, so make every word count. Develop a narrative that is compelling yet concise. Ensure that your story has a clear beginning, middle, and end, and that the pacing keeps the reader engaged throughout.

Lastly, evoke emotion in your writing. Whether it’s joy, sadness, suspense, or humor, an entry that stirs the reader’s emotions is likely to stand out. Writing contests are an opportunity to connect with your audience on a deeper level. Use descriptive language, relatable characters, and engaging scenarios to make your submission memorable and impactful.

Dealing with Feedback and Rejection

Feedback and rejection are integral parts of participating in literary contests, and how you handle them can significantly impact your growth as a writer. Constructive criticism from judges or fellow participants can provide valuable insights into your writing. It’s important to approach feedback with an open mind and a willingness to learn. Even if some comments may seem harsh or discouraging, try to find the underlying advice that can help you improve.

Rejection is an inevitable aspect of competitive writing. It’s crucial to remember that not winning a contest doesn’t diminish your abilities as a writer. Each submission is subject to subjective judgments and varying tastes. What might not resonate with one set of judges could be highly appreciated by another. Use rejection as a motivator to refine your skills and try again.

One effective way to deal with rejection is to analyze your submission critically. Compare it with the winning entries, if possible, to understand what might have worked better. This exercise can reveal areas for improvement and new techniques or styles to experiment with in your writing.

Building resilience is key to enduring the ups and downs of writing competitions. Allow yourself to feel disappointed by rejection, but don’t dwell on it for too long. Instead, channel your energy into working on your next project or preparing for another contest. The persistence to keep going despite setbacks is what often separates successful writers from the rest.

Lastly, remember that every great writer has faced rejection at some point in their career. Many famous authors were initially turned down multiple times before achieving success. These stories can be a source of inspiration and a reminder that rejection is not the end of your writing journey but a step towards future achievements.

Leveraging Wins and Losses: Building Your Writing Portfolio

Whether you win or lose in a writing contest, your participation can be a valuable addition to your writing portfolio. A win, of course, can be a significant accolade, offering potential for publicity, networking, and even monetary gain. It can enhance your resume and open doors to publishing opportunities and further recognition in the writing community.

But even entries that don’t win can be valuable. Consider repurposing these works for other uses. They can be refined for submission to other contests or publications, shared on blogs or social media platforms, or expanded into larger projects like a novel or a collection of stories or essays. Every piece of writing has potential; it’s about finding the right audience and medium.

Participating in a variety of contests can also help diversify your portfolio. It shows potential agents, publishers, and readers that you’re adaptable and not afraid to explore different genres and styles. This diversity can make you more marketable and open up a broader range of opportunities in the future.

Networking opportunities are another significant benefit of participating in contests. Winners often gain access to exclusive events, workshops, or writing communities. These platforms can be excellent for building connections with other writers, publishers, and industry professionals. Even if you don’t win, attending public readings or award ceremonies associated with contests can be great networking opportunities.

Finally, use your experiences in contests to refine your craft. With each submission, you gain a better understanding of your strengths and areas for improvement. This ongoing process of learning and development is invaluable in shaping you into a more skilled and confident writer.

Ghostwriting: A Hidden Avenue for Growth and Opportunity

Ghostwriting in the context of writing contests can offer a unique set of challenges and rewards. As a ghostwriter, you have the opportunity to write in a variety of styles and genres, often pushing you out of your comfort zone. This can be an excellent way to expand your skills and versatility as a writer.

Engaging in ghostwriting allows you to view writing through a different lens. You’re writing from someone else’s perspective, often with a set of guidelines or expectations. This experience can enhance your ability to adapt your writing style and voice, which is a valuable skill in any writing endeavor.

One of the challenges of ghostwriting for contests is maintaining the original author’s voice and vision. This requires a deep understanding of their style and the ability to immerse yourself in their perspective. Successfully doing so can be incredibly rewarding, as it signifies your capability to truly capture and convey diverse narratives.

Ghostwriting also offers the potential for financial gain and professional development. While you may not receive direct recognition for your work in a contest, being a successful ghostwriter can lead to more opportunities and steady income streams. It’s a way to build your career behind the scenes, gaining experience and connections in the industry.

Finally, ghostwriting can be a fulfilling avenue for those who enjoy the process of writing and storytelling without the need for personal accolades. It allows you to focus solely on the craft and the satisfaction of bringing a story to life, which can be a rewarding experience in its own right.

Leveraging Wins and Losses: Building Your Writing Portfolio

Whether you win or lose, participating in writing contests is a valuable addition to your writing portfolio. A win can be a significant accolade, opening doors to publishing opportunities and enhancing your credibility. But even entries that don’t win can be repurposed—use them as material for your blog, a chapter in a book, or as a springboard for a new project. Every experience in writing contests contributes to your growth and visibility as a writer.

Winning a writing contest can serve as a powerful testament to your skills and creativity. It’s a badge of honor that can be highlighted in your writing portfolio, setting you apart from others in the field. Such achievements can catch the eye of publishers, literary agents, and potential clients, offering you new opportunities for growth and exposure.

However, it’s important not to overlook the value of participation without winning. Each contest entry, win or lose, demonstrates your commitment to refining your craft. These experiences, collected over time, showcase your dedication and perseverance, qualities that are highly admired in the literary world.

For those who have won, it’s crucial to capitalize on the momentum. Update your portfolio, resume, and social media profiles to reflect your achievements. Share your success story in writing communities and networks. This not only enhances your reputation but also inspires and encourages other aspiring writers.

Even if a contest does not result in a win, the feedback and experience gained can be invaluable. Constructive criticism can guide your future writing, helping you to avoid past mistakes and hone your skills. Each contest entry is a learning opportunity, a stepping stone towards becoming a more adept and compelling writer.

10 Incredible Writing Contest Tips Revealed

Participating in writing contests can be a thrilling and rewarding experience for any writer. Whether you’re a seasoned author or just starting, understanding how to navigate these contests can make a significant difference in your performance. Writing contests are not just about showcasing your talent; they’re about strategic planning, understanding the nuances of the competition, and presenting your work in the best possible light. To help you maximize your potential in these contests, here are 10 incredible tips that can give you an edge and enhance your chances of success.

  1. Read Past Winning Entries: Studying previous winners can provide valuable insights into what the judges might be looking for in terms of style, tone, and content.
  2. Follow Submission Guidelines Precisely: Pay close attention to the rules regarding formatting, word count, and submission methods. Disregarding these can lead to disqualification.
  3. Choose the Right Contest: Select contests that match your writing style and genre. Entering the right contest increases your chances of success.
  4. Start with a Strong Hook: Your opening should grab the reader’s attention and make them want to read more. A compelling start is crucial.
  5. Edit and Proofread Thoroughly: Ensure your entry is polished and free from grammatical errors. Professionalism in your submission reflects well on you as a writer.
  6. Be Original and Creative: Judges are looking for unique perspectives and fresh ideas. Stand out by being innovative in your storytelling.
  7. Understand the Theme: If the contest has a specific theme, make sure your entry aligns well with it. Misalignment with the theme can lead to missed opportunities.
  8. Seek Feedback Before Submitting: Getting constructive criticism from peers or mentors can provide new perspectives and improve your entry.
  9. Manage Your Expectations: Approach each contest as a learning opportunity, regardless of the outcome. Winning is great, but gaining experience is equally valuable.
  10. Keep Participating: Regular participation helps you understand contest dynamics better and improves your writing skills. Persistence is key.

Entering writing contests can be a significant stepping stone in your writing career. By implementing these 10 tips, you stand a better chance of not only performing well but also enjoying the process. Remember, each contest is an opportunity to learn, grow, and showcase your skills. Winning is a fantastic achievement, but the experience and knowledge you gain are invaluable. Keep writing, keep entering, and let each contest bring out the best in your creative abilities. With persistence and adherence to these tips, you’re well on your way to making a mark in the world of writing contests.

Conclusion: Writing Contests as a Catalyst for Growth

Writing contests offer more than just the chance to win prizes; they are catalysts for growth, exposure, and professional development. By carefully selecting contests, adhering to guidelines, crafting compelling entries, and embracing feedback and rejection, you can use these competitions as valuable tools in your writing journey. They push you to hone your craft, challenge your creativity, and can significantly impact your writing career. Embrace the challenge of writing contests, and let each submission be a step forward in your journey as a writer.

Participating in writing contests is a journey of discovery and growth. It’s an opportunity to showcase your talent, connect with a community of writers, and gain valuable feedback on your work. Writing contests are more than competitions; they’re platforms for learning, sharing, and celebrating the art of writing. As we delve into the world of writing contests, remember that each contest is a step towards honing your craft and achieving your writing aspirations.

The benefits of writing contests extend beyond the immediate gratification of winning. They foster a sense of community among writers, providing a platform to share experiences, learn from peers, and build lasting connections. This sense of belonging can be incredibly motivating, encouraging writers to continue pursuing their passion.

Moreover, writing contests can serve as a benchmark for your development as a writer. They offer a unique opportunity to gauge your skills against others, providing a clearer understanding of where you stand and what you need to work on. This self-awareness is crucial for any writer seeking to improve and succeed in the competitive world of writing.

Writing contests are a valuable tool for any writer looking to enhance their skills, gain recognition, and connect with a larger community. Whether you win or not, the experience gained is invaluable, contributing to your growth and development as a writer. Embrace the opportunities that writing contests offer, and let them guide you on your journey to becoming a better, more successful writer.

Takeaway: Participating in writing contests is an enriching experience that offers more than just the potential for accolades and prizes. It’s a pathway to growth, learning, and community building. Each contest provides a unique opportunity to showcase your talent, receive valuable feedback, and gauge your progress as a writer. Whether you win or not, the experience gained is invaluable in shaping your journey as a writer. Embrace the challenge of writing contests, and let them be a stepping stone to achieving your literary dreams.

Richard Lowe

11 thoughts on “10 Incredible Writing Contest Tips Revealed

  1. Arnaldo Cormier Reply

    I have been browsing online more than three hours today yet I never found any interesting article like yours It is pretty worth enough for me In my view if all website owners and bloggers made good content as you did the internet will be a lot more useful than ever before

  2. Ntensibe Edgar Reply

    Oh yes, I love the use of feedback. Feedback has always directed me where my readers want me to take them and where I could improve or learn to. It always helps.

  3. Fransic verso Reply

    These are great tips, new to me some of them as well. I’m definitely saving these tips. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Marysa Reply

    I would not know where to begin when it comes to a writing contest. These all sound like great strategies to focus on for this kind of writing.

  5. Gervin Khan Reply

    These are amazing tips! Actually this can be applied when you’re only writing stories or whatever, still, very helpful!

  6. Stephanie Reply

    The only “writing contest” I’ve done is my college admission essays. I know it’s different, but a lot of these tips are great when it comes to that and any other writing.

  7. bright loveland snow Reply

    writing content is one hard thing to do. this post has enlightened me a lot. thanks for sharing


    I totally agree with you on the value of writing contests! They offer so much more than just prizes. Writing contests can help you grow, connect with other writers, and receive feedback that can improve your craft. Plus, they’re just plain fun! So, as a writer looking for new challenges and opportunities, I highly recommend trying writing contests. You never know where they might take you!

  9. Claudia Reply

    Learning from feedback is so important. No matter the endeavor, all of us fall into the trap of loving what we produce no matter what. It takes outside eyes to tell us if that gold we see is really just yellow paint!

  10. Beth Reply

    I love that your first tip was choosing the right contest. If you love fantasy, you probably don’t want to enter a non-fiction essay contest!

  11. Debbie Reply

    Great information for participating in writing contests. I think highlighting accepting feedback and rejection in the post was very helpful. It can be difficult to accept this but important to grow as a writer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *