Writing Contests – Yes Or No?

It’s that time again. The time when it seems like there are a gazillion (okay, well several) writing contests for writers, aspiring writers and even writer-wannabes. Last year, I submitted my first essays EVER in such contests. They were my first submissions ever. I obviously didn’t win (if you even considered that I did, I love you forever and want to send you a basket of muffins) but it got me started on my submitting journey which still needs work, but at least it’s finally something instead of loads of nothing.

This year, I am debating on submitting to any contests. Why? I don’t know if it is a waste of money and even more importantly than that (I know, I’m shocked too, I am one frugal bitch) do I want to keep the piece I submit to said contests in a state of limbo for four to six months. Because see, that’s what I do. If I spend the money to submit something to a contest, I’m not going to turn around and submit it somewhere else while I wait for my form rejection, which to be clear, is a sure thing.

I am picky about the things I submit to contests. They are:

1) My BEST work. Says me, and my writing buddies (fellow writers who exchange work with me for both support and critiques/edits etc.).


2) A “perfect” fit for that publication and/or themed issue.

And as far as the contests I actually enter (because I’ve entered maybe three to date, so it’s not like I’m some writing contest floozy), they are my DREAM publications that I have specifically written for. So yeah.

But I’m already being “too choosy” and short-sighted with the pieces I’m sending out – only sending them to a rotation of like six or seven publications (I know, I know; I need to rethink this), while a few pieces I’m not sending anywhere because again – dream publications, even though in these instances, it isn’t a contest. And that isn’t working. The idea of paying money to do this with new work or work I hadn’t considered last year, doesn’t sit well with me for several reasons, but the main one being: I don’t have a chance in hell of winning.

Seriously, I don’t. I read other people’s stuff and I think, “God, my stuff isn’t even on the level below the level of this.” With so many other talented and seasoned writers out there, it’s not going to happen in a contest which is even more competitive than a publication’s regular submissions queue.

I know this and that’s fine. The publications I submit to in terms of their contests are dream publications, but why not just drive myself nuts and set myself up for inevitable rejection for free? I mean that makes more sense, right?

But then I hear about how “important” contests can be and how it can be a launch pad for winners in their careers. It’s all about being seen and heard and who you know. And winning certain contests gets you seen. And heard. And you probably meet the “right kind” of people (or at least have more of a chance of doing so if you win).

So I keep going back and forth. Participate in a few writing contests (I will never get into a crazy amount of contests) and set a few works aside for half a year because I have a broken submission system anyway, even though the pieces in question are the best of the best…


Say screw it and keep submitting to publications as I see fit, that aren’t charging fees so that I’m not shelving anything unless it’s a themed issue for a dream publication, because I’d probably shelve it in that instance, anyway.

I kind of wish I had connections so I didn’t worry about the “contests furthering my career” thing or more money so I wouldn’t mind blowing $100 a year for nothing. But I don’t – isn’t that the reason for entering these blasted things in the first place?

So, what will it be? Enter some writing contests or bow out this year and just submit to run-of-the-mill, non-contest stuff? Seriously, any thoughts? Because I don’t seem adult enough to make this decision on my own! :/



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