Apologies to anyone who thought I was an authority on the writing business1, but I’m still doing my best to develop my skills, work on my writing, and get a publishing record that will enable me to work freelance or get a book deal. To that end, I’m writing this blog and entering writing competitions, which brings me to the point of this post: competitions. More specifically, free writing competitions. Shockingly, trying to break into the publishing industry isn’t lucrative. I’m fine with that, I want to be an author, and I accept that creative fields are riskier than more standard professions.
Free writing competitions, then, offer a perfect way to hone your writing skills with minimal risk. You have nothing to lose. You enter, great! You wrote something. You don’t enter, too bad. Hopefully in the attempt you learnt something about yourself or your writing process that will help you. You win, great! Money and/or recognition! The sweet, sweet validation that your creativity is as good as you think in your optimistic moments, and something to hold to yourself when you feel less than hopeful about your skills. You don’t win, okay, you didn’t really lose though. That’s my take, anyway. I say a slightly more coherent version in this article about my continued entries2 in (you guessed it) a free writing competition. Check it out, if you want. The article, the competition—I’m a fan of both.
But! Furious Fiction aside, there seems to be fewer free writing competitions around these days. Is it just me? It seems like even last year there were noticeably more writing competitions around, and now it seems like any competition I find charges an entry fee. I don’t have a problem with that, by the way. I understand reading and judging submissions must be a time-consuming process; I personally just don’t have the means to enter a bunch of competitions, and I don’t know of any paid competitions that seem worth entering. Most competitions these days are online, and avoiding competitions run to prey on vulnerable emerging artists seems like a daunting challenge³.
Has the industry changed? Are magazine or website submissions more prevalent? Am I just out of touch? Maybe there’s just as many competitions around, but I haven’t found them yet. That’s definitely a possibility, I can’t remember half the places I found information on free to enter competitions last year, let alone before that. If anyone’s read this far, let me know. What’s your thoughts on writing competitions? Free or paid? Magazines or websites? Do amateur writers ever really get published? Give me some tips.
1 I don’t know that there’s anyone out there reading this and thinking that, but I like to be thorough
2 Along with the continued entries of several other people, but this is my blog, damnit
³Though if anyone knows of a reputable, affordable competition let me know , I’d genuinely be interested