Improve Your Writing Platform by Entering Writing Contests
I’m talking to all of you.
I’m talking to anyone who is interested in furthering their writing career, and I’m talking to anyone who would like to find out just how good they really are.
Whether you are a writer of novels, a writer of short stories, an article writer, or a poet, this article is for you. This article is for anyone interested in advancing and improving in this craft called writing, whether you are a housewife in Skokie or a copywriter in Dubai.
This one’s for you!
I have heard all of the excuses so please don’t bother me with yours.
“I could never win a contest. I’m not good enough.”
“What if I didn’t win? It would be so embarrassing.”
“I could never handle the rejection.”
“It’s too costly to enter contests and besides, I don’t have a chance.”
All those and more I have seen over the years, and some of them I have used myself, and quite frankly they are all hogwash.
“Fear stifles our thinking and actions. It creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation. I have known talented people who procrastinate indefinitely rather than risk failure. Lost opportunities cause erosion of confidence, and the downward spiral begins.”
Very helpful book
So What’s This Writer’s Platform You Talk About?
A writer’s platform is, for lack of a better explanation, the body of work a writer has produced. It is a writer’s accomplishments. It is, in a very real sense, who that writer is with regards to the craft of writing.
Think in terms of a job resume. Your platform is your experience. When you go to a job interview, the interviewer will look at your resume and discuss it with you, and from that discussion they will determine whether you are qualified for the job.
The same is true of a platform. If you have visions of being a freelance writer, you will need published works to show your ability as a writer. You will need articles that you have written to show that you have game. Similarly, if you approach an agent or publisher with a manuscript, you will need to show your platform to them in an attempt to convince them that you are worth a risk.
And that leads us to the topic of writing contests. Winning a writing contest is a great addition to your platform. It tells people that one, you had the confidence in your work to enter a contest and two, you had enough ability to actually win a contest. Those are huge feathers in the cap of any writer.
How Do You Find These Contests?
Oh my goodness, it’s as easy as Googling “writing contests.”
It took me all of two minutes to find the following:
And there are hundreds more to choose from. Each site will tell you the submissions guidelines, and there are contests for every imaginable writing genre.
They will also tell you the cost of entering, which leads us to the next excuse…..
But I Can’t Afford to Enter Too Many Contests
Yes, it is true, entering some contests can be a bit pricey. Entry fees will range from five to twenty-five dollars per entry, and it doesn’t take long to break our personal banks if we enter too many of those contests…..but…..
There are many contests that are free to enter, and when I say free I am talking about no cost at all. You submit your writing via email, so you don’t even pay the postage.
So that shoots that excuse all to hell and back, now doesn’t it?
But I’m Not Good Enough to Win
How do you know that if you’ve never tried?
I know far too many good writers who are afraid to stick their necks out and find out just how good they really are. How in the world do you expect to improve your craft simply by sitting in your bedroom, by yourselves, without ever receiving feedback from readers or judges?
There are literally thousands of writing contests each year. Someone has to win so why not you?
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But What If I Don’t Win? I Can’t Handle Rejection!
Well then, you might want to reconsider being a writer, because the writing profession is all about rejection. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you plan on being a writer you better plan on a few hundred slaps to the face. Some of the most famous authors in history were rejected for years before finally being “discovered.” They did not give up after the first rejection letter, nor did they give up after the 100th rejection letter. They just kept writing, kept improving, and kept submitting their work as if their writing lives depended on it.
There are millions of writers in the world and they are all after a piece of the literary pie. Of course you will be rejected…..but….look at it this way….for every writing contest, there are only several hundred entries. That means your odds are pretty darned good if you ask me.
For years, Stephen King could not find a publisher willing to take a chance on his works.
He kept writing and kept submitting.
And he found success!
“You must accept that you might fail; then, if you do your best and still don't win, at least you can be satisfied that you've tried. If you don't accept failure as a possibility, you don't set high goals, you don't branch out, you don't try - you don't take the risk.”
An Example of How This Helps Your Platform
I am currently reading a series of novels written by Joe R. Lansdale. I want to share with you the jacket insert of his first novel, before he ever won the Edgar Award or six Bram Stoker Awards. In other words, before he became famous.
“Joe R. Lansdale has written over 200 short stories and several novels in the suspense, horror, and Western genres. He currently lives in East Texas with his wife, son, daughter, and German Shepherd.”
That, my friends, was Mr. Lansdale’s platform prior to hitting it big. Yes, he had put in his work. Writing over 200 short stories and several novels is an impressive body of work, but it is no more impressive than the work some of you have done. It makes no mention of any prestigious awards, nor does it mention if he won any contests.
Now, just for fun, let’s substitute your name into the equation.
“Joyce P. Writer has written over fifty short stories, and has won the Writer’s Digest Short Story Contest as well as the Fanstory Contest for Best Novella.
That is every bit as impressive as Mr. Lansdale’s bio. Why? Because winning writing contests is an impressive accomplishment, that’s why! With a couple of contest wins, your platform says that you are a professional with some serious skills, and people pay attention to serious skills.
Have you entered a writing contest before?
You Have Absolutely Nothing to Lose By Trying
Who is to know if you fail? Submissions are anonymous, so even if you get rejected and place 129th out of 130 entries, nobody will know. There is no embarrassment attached to this activity. Consider it all a learning experience and continue to grow as a writer.
And isn’t that what this is all about?
2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”