Bloggers don’t tend to think about entering writing contests. However, if you are a blogger who aspires to become an author or an author who blogs, entering writing contests could prove beneficial in a variety of ways. Today, Emmanuel Nataf (@EmmanuelNataf), co-founder of Reedsy, details those benefits and encourages you to submit an entry.
Many people become bloggers to express themselves and their creativity. Still others blog to build their businesses or become subject-matter experts. No matter which camp you fall into, entering writing contests might not appear on your radar, nor may the idea appeal to you.
After all, tackling a writing contest can feel less like doing homework given their imposed deadlines and word limits. And you may already struggle to be productive and find time to write, which makes entering a contest feel like more work and stress.
Writing Contests Improve Your Blogging Craft
You can, of course, write what you want for your current audience. But if you want to improve your craft, reconsider the value of entering a writing contest.
Specifically, entering writing contests provides a powerful way to improve your writing. Think of it as the difference between going on a run to blow off steam and hitting the treadmill with a solid plan to train for a race. Both will do your heart some good and help you get that runner’s high. But which one’s going to make you the better athlete? The latter strategy.
The same is true when it comes to writing. An intentional strategy for improving your craft makes more sense than just writing to express.
6 Benefits of Entering a Writing Contest
Let’s take a closer look at how entering writing contests will make you a better writer and blogger.
1. Entering a writing contest forces you to actually write.
We’re not supposed to like them, but there’s nothing more motivating than a deadline. Entering a writing contest supplies a refreshingly low-stakes deadline. Unlike a school or work assignment, there’s no GPA or job on the line when you enter a writing contest. And if you miss the deadline, you have much less to lose than if you don’t publish your post on schedule.
When you think of deadlines in this light, writing contest deadlines become more liberating than oppressive. They give you the perfect excuse to sit down and start writing. Add just a touch of external pressure to your writing routine, and you’ll feel more accountable for the ideas in your heads.
That means you actually write.
The more you write, the better your writing becomes. You’ll notice an improvement in your blogging as well, and this can help you not only gain readers but land a book deal.
2. Entering a writing contest forces you to write with a real audience in mind.
Freewriting in a journal can feel cathartic, and there’s a lot to be said for scribbling something that’s meant for your eyes only. But if you have aspirations to be a great writer and successful blogger and author, it’s good to practice looking at your writing through an outside lens.
Writing competitions compel you to reread your own work, slowly and critically, from a different perspective—that of your audience. In this case, the audience is not only your potential readers but also the contest judge.
Does your writing move readers? Are you good at telling stories, as the best bloggers and authors do? Is your prose on point, or could it use improvement?
There’s no better way to think through these questions than picturing your work in the hands of a judge. Enter a writing contest, and you’ll read and revise your work with a much more critical eye. And that will make you a better writer.
3. Entering writing contests pushes you out of your comfort zone.
If you can’t find a contest that caters to your preferred style, challenge yourself by entering one in a genre or format you usually wouldn’t write. You’ll better your writing when you have to stretch your writing muscles more than usual.
Plenty of writing contests are free to enter, which means they offer a low-stakes way to experiment with a new aspect of your craft. Pushing yourself to work with unfamiliar conventions and unaccustomed techniques heighten your versatility as a writer as well.
4. Entering writing contests gets you to confront your fear of rejection.
No one likes being rejected. But every writer knows that success requires a thick skin. Trust me, every literary luminary from J.K. Rowling to e e cummings has heard the dreaded word “no.” But fear of rejection can cause you to stop pushing yourself to improve your writing craft.
Writing contests will get you used to that dreaded word and the rejection letter all writers experience at one time or another. Rejection is not exactly the most joyful part of the publishing process, but it is important. It helps you learn that rejection isn’t personal. That frees up the part of your brain that used to fret over rejection, and that means more of your mind can focus on the writing.
Once you get over your fear of rejection, you will find it easier to write—and to publish. You’ll also become more motivated to improve.
5. Entering writing contests helps you build up your portfolio—no matter what happens.
Writing contests are, by nature, super competitive. However, even some of the most exceptional entrants don’t make it to the finalist round.
As long as you treat contests as opportunities to learn craft, as opposed to chances to snatch prize money, the long odds shouldn’t bother you. Plus, the benefit of building up a portfolio of work outweighs these odds. After all, it’s your portfolio of work that helps you get published. And each piece you submit is another step towards becoming an experienced writer.
Every story you write for a contest is a story you’ve written. You took a skeleton of an idea and fleshed it out into something concrete. And it’s yours now. You can polish it up to send to a literary magazine; you can expand it into a blog post; or you can include it in a book, like a self-published memoir. You can even feed its basic premise into the metaphorical wood chipper and use it to nourish more stories.
Plus, each entry is another chance to take your writing to a higher level. In the process, your portfolio will become stronger and stronger.
6. Entering a writing contest gives you a sense of accomplishment.
Entering writing contests may not offer you a Paris Review byline or a Pulitzer Prize, but hitting the submit button represents a victory. Use that feeling of accomplishment to fuel your future literary endeavors.
Feeling just a bit better about yourself as a writer can make a huge difference in how you approach your work. And the more confident you become, the more seriously you’ll take your writing, which also leads to improvements in technique.
Your bold action leads to more daring action. As you enter writing contests—no matter if you win or lose—you get in the habit of releasing your work to the world. That’s a win in and of itself.
Success as a writer, blogger, or author requires continual focus on improvement. Entering contests helps you develop a success mindset while you improve your writing craft.
What tips do you have for proofreading your blog posts before publication? Tell me in a comment below. And if you found this post useful, please share it with a few other bloggers.
About the Author
Emmanuel Nataf is the founder and CEO of Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors and publishers with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers. Emmanuel dedicates most of his time to building Reedsy’s product and is interested in how technology can transform cultural industries.
Photo courtesy of iqoncept