I set myself some goals in January. One of those goals was to enter at least two writing contests in 2015. Why?

Writing contests have deadlines.

Having a deadline to work to can help you avoid procrastination. It also sets a limit on how long you can work on (read tweak) a project.

I tend to procrastinate when I don’t have a deadline. I allow things like research, reading, dishes, and laundry get pushed to the front of my to-do list. My writing is important to me but it’s also scary and hard, so these easier tasks take over my life. But when I choose to commit to entering a contest, I tell a few friends to keep me accountable and then I work to that contest deadline.

Writing contests have guidelines.

Word count, genre, even the topic are prescribed for you. If you’re a writer like me who sometimes can’t decide which project to work on (or start!), the structure of contests may be helpful for you.

I used to love using writing prompts and I don’t use them enough any more. But I like the workout that a prompt gives me. It forces me to think in a different way and spend a little bit of time on a different project.

Writing contests teach you how to submit your work for publication.

Submitting your work somewhere is terrifying.

It’s also a hugely important step in your journey as a writer.

Taking the step to submit teaches you how to submit. If you get feedback from the judges, you’ll have valuable information to help you keep becoming a better writer. If you don’t hear back (which is often the case), you won’t be without some gain–you’ll have taken a risk and learned to follow submission guidelines.

Writing contests can lead to financial prizes, publications, connections, and esteem.

There’s no guarantee you’ll win anything when you submit to a writing contest. But there is always the possibility. And if you do win, whether it’s your piece getting published somewhere or a financial or physical prize, you can list that in your portfolio or bio. You may make connections with editors, which can lead to more publications. You may get approval–which is so great for your self-esteem.

I’ve Submitted to Two Contests This Year

Thus far in 2015, I’ve submitted to two contests. I plan on surpassing my goal and entering some more. I know the process of entering a writing contest from the deadline to the writing prompt and guidelines, to the courage to enter and the possibility of publication, a connection, or a prize is a skill-building challenge for me.

What about you? Why do you or don’t you enter writing contests?

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