Writing contests offer many benefits, not the least of which is a deadline.

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Yes, yes, yes you should.  Writing contests offer many benefits, not the least of which is a deadline. There’s nothing like a deadline to force you to put your posterior in a chair and some words down on paper. You can also win prize money, get published, establish credibility, build your writer’s platform and grow a readership.  The first step is to enter.  It can be daunting, but to grow as a writer, you need to send your work out into the world. Contests offer that opportunity.

Entering a contest gets you comfortable with sharing your work.  You become disciplined. You get organized about submitting.  You learn to follow the directions in the submission guidelines.  You learn to write to spec.  Take the process seriously, enter consistently and you may just win.  And even if you don’t, your writing will improve with all the invaluable practice you gain along the way.

Entering isn’t enough you say.  I know. You want to win.  Here are some suggestions to make your entry as strong as it can be.

Write something different, but don’t break the rules.

There’s an adage in Hollywood – bring me something the same, but different. If you’re writing a romance, the couple needs to get together at the end. That’s the rule, but you can make your story different by setting it in a unique place like war-torn Iraq or giving the protagonist a different take on the world.  Say two scientists fall in love while studying the sea life in the Galapagos Islands. Writing a mystery?  You need to solve the mystery by the end, but make it different – leave the butler out.

Mind your grammar and formatting.

Grammar counts in contests – as it does in all writing, so take the time to check your grammar. There are plenty of free and inexpensive software programs to help you – Grammarly, ProWritingAid, and AutoCrit to name a few.

Titles matter.

Make your entry stand out right away with an intriguing title.

Proofread your work.

Ever find a typo in a book you were reading? Remember how it bumped you out of the story? You went back and reread the passage at least once to make sure you knew what the author intended.  Please, please, please – don’t let this be you.  Not ever, and definitely not in a contest entry with prize money at stake.

I hope by now, I’ve persuaded you that entering a contest is beneficial and will help you grow as a writer.  So, why wait?  Be brave. Be bold. Enter.

Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association invites you to enter their annual literary contest for unpublished work. In addition to prize money, all entries receive two thoughtful critiques. Publishers and agents attending the PNWA Conference read finalists’ entries. Deadline: March 23, 2018.