With spring just around the corner, why not try something new and refreshing: enter a writing contest. Spring writing contests abound this year, and the offerings cater to a variety of writers. If you’re wondering why you should enter a contest at all, there are a number of reasons. For one thing, it’ll give you a specific project with a specific deadline. Sounds scary? Not at all. In fact, entering a contest will get you inspired to use your creativity—and you’ll probably have a lot of fun in the process.
Not only that, contests are a great way to get feedback on your work, reaffirm your role as a writer, and give you exposure. Of course, winning a contest brings all kinds of additional perks, like money, publication, personal satisfaction, fans, even fame. So give a contest a try, and get your writing off to a fresh start this spring. Here are some worthwhile options:
- Writers of the Future Contest. If you’ve never professionally published a novel, short novel, or more than three short stories and you write fantasy or sci-fi (but not for kids), this may be just the contest for you. Cash prizes are large, and the contest runs quarterly. If you miss the March 31 deadline, you can enter the next contest beginning April 1. No entry fee required.
- Writer’s Weekly 24-hour Short Story Contest. Limited to 500 entrants, this contest begins at noon on April 28, 2012, and runs for 24 hours. The fee is $5 for a day (and night) of fun. (Note: You must be entered before the topic is posted.) Cash and/or other prizes are awarded to winners and honorable mentions.
- Children’s Writer Contest – Middle Grade Mystery. Think you can come up with a 900-word or less mystery story for 9- to 12-year-olds? If so, you’ll want to check out this contest. The deadline for entries is April 30, 2012. Children’s Writer subscribers pay no entry fee; all others, $15. Cash prizes will be awarded for first through fifth places, with first place earning $500 plus publication.
- The Writer Short Story Contest. For $10, you can submit your original, unpublished short story of up to 2,000 words. Although the competition will be fierce, the first-prize winner earns $1,000, publication, and a free online creative writing workshop.
- Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. This is a writing contest in 10 categories, including memoir, feature article, poetry, and children’s fiction. Entry fee is $25 for the first manuscript, $15 for the first poem. First through tenth-place winners receive cash and other prizes. Early bird deadline is May 1, 2012.
- Fan Story Contests. For some great feedback and a ranking, you can enter any number of writing contests at FanStory.com this spring—for free. Topics cover the gamut, and many contests offer cash prizes, including the acrostic poetry contest, nonfiction contest, and horror story contest. Deadlines vary.
- Women on Writing (WOW) 2012 Spring Flash Fiction Contest. Any genre and any style of fiction is accepted, as long as the story is between 250 and 750 words. The contest runs till March 31, but the sooner you get your story in the better. Only the first 300 entries will be judged. Entry fee is $10.
- The Cheerios New Author Contest. To enter this annual contest, you must submit a story for 3- to 8-year-olds and be a nonprofessional writer. Winners get their stories published inside Cheerios boxes, cash, and a possible book deal. The contest is usually announced in March. Check here for updates. For more information, read my interview with former Cheerios New Author winner Laurie Isop.
(Image by Karen Blaha)