Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Writing Contests Aren't Lotteries

by KATE FALL on JANUARY 30, 2010

Anyone else out there enter Highlights’ annual short story contest?

I dropped my story in the mail yesterday, but I wouldn’t bet on my chances. The competition in the contest is intense. Two local writer friends entered and I’m not sure my story could beat their stories, nevertheless EVERYBODY’S stories. So I’m not counting on the prize money. I quite like the story I entered, but my chances of winning the $1000 are about the same as winning $1000 in the lottery. So why did I enter?

Because the contest pushed me to write a story within 750 words about a predetermined topic. It was an excellent chance to work on my craft with a deadline. I couldn’t just think, “I should write a short story someday.” The contest made me write it and revise it several times by January 31. Without the contest, that story–and I quite like that story–would not exist. In a way, my ticket into the contest is more valuable than the prize itself.

Now the SCBWI Work in Progress grant deadline is approaching. Again, the competition is intense. But entering would force me to polish a synopsis now instead of procrastinating, so I’m considering it.

I’ll be keeping my eye out for other contests this year. If you hear of any good ones, please pass them on!

– Kate

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

J.L. Martin 01.30.10 at 3:12 pm

Contests are really helpful in terms of forcing you to finish work aren’t they? Sometimes they’re the only reason I get anything completed! By the sound of it you know about most of the same contests I do. Have you heard about Hunger Mountain’s Katherine Paterson prize?

I talked about it recently on my site and also featured 5 other contests/grants for children’s writers. Here’s a link:


Good luck with your submissions!

– Janet

Christina 01.30.10 at 4:47 pm

Kate- I’m sure you’re story will do great. But you are right about pushing ourselves. It’s so important to not be stagnant and entering a contest is a great way to keep sharp!

Ruth 01.31.10 at 2:29 pm

I entered two stories–like you, I wrote them for the contest, and I’m glad I did. Even if it’s a long shot, it’s a way of forcing yourself to do the work and to get it out there, and there’s certainly value in that!

Carmella 01.31.10 at 5:15 pm

Maybe I’ll push myself to submit something to the work in progress grant. Your piece is just the nudge I need.

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