Contests Are For . . . (Part 2)

Here are five more things contests are really for, in the words of your fellow writers. If you missed Part 1, you can read it here.

*If you’re looking to chat with other writers or find a critique partner, check out!*


6. Getting motivated.

“I find nothing motivates me more than knowing other writers are out there, doing the same thing I'm doing, working just as hard. Contests are a wealth of people all struggling in the trenches together, and what's more motivating than that?” –Dahlia @MissDahlELama

“On a few different occasions, after entering a contest, I received an e-mail from a "Random Citizen" telling me how much they loved my entry. THAT, more than anything else encouraged me to keep going. Just a taste of how it feels to touch someone with your work.” –Janet @MsVerbose

“There’s nothing like winning a contest to help push away those “I’m never gonna get published” naysaying thoughts bumping around my head!  Even if I don’t win, an encouraging crit is enough fuel to push me forward, to let me know I am on the right track.” –Stephanie @stefwass

“I am absolutely someone who is motivated by deadlines, but the ones I impose on myself (you will finish this revision one month from today!) seem artificial and harder ot keep. But if I know that there's a contest coming up, that maybe I'll get lucky and have a request on a certain date, it is absolutely easier to keep my backside in the chair and my eyes on the screen, to persevere and get the work done.” –Elaine @ElaineBVickers

“Contests can jumpstart you into finishing things you've been putting off--perfecting your query, writing your synopsis, etc.” – Emily @emcushi

7. Getting encouragement.

“I love the camaraderie among contest participants! There's so much encouragement, even among people who are technically competitors, and I think that's so important at such a scary phase of the process.” –Dahlia

“I gained support and confidence with the feedback. All a win-win experience.” –Karen @love8rockets

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8. Being part of a community.

“The writing community is an amazing thing - a wealth of resources and knowledge, a pool of willing betas/CPs... writing is only as solitary a practice as you choose to make it, and if you really open up (within reason!) it's pretty amazing what other people will do to help a stranger, and even better when they no longer feel like strangers!” -Dahlia

“The #1 thing I've learned from contests? The writing community is AMAZING--everyone is so supportive, helpful, and willing to cheer each other on.” – Emily

“Writing is such lonely work, and sometimes it feels like you're the only one who can't ‘make it.’ Contests always remind me that I'm not alone. I'm part of a broad community of wonderful, helpful people who are brave enough to put themselves out there and take risks. It makes me want to do better and keep going!” –Janet

“I entered my first contest last spring, a Twitter pitch party. The request I got from a top agent was great, but what I really got out of it was writer friends who knew what I was going through and are now right there with me, cheering my wins and booing my losses. Thanks to that contest, I now have met with other writers in person (they're just as awesome as they are online!). I talk to dozens of writers daily through Twitter, email, and blogs. I also know tons much more about the literary world than I did before (agents and editors are people too, apparently!). I'm no longer slogging through the trenches alone—I'm shoulder-to-shoulder with awesome people just like me. I am so thrilled I decided to enter that contest. :-)” -Triona @trionabmurphy

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9. Paying it forward.

“Writers I’ve met through contests and I are now actively cheering each other along our paths to publication and, not only has my writing grown as a result of these connections, but so has my enjoyment of the whole process and the connection I feel to the larger kidlit community.” –Jen @jenniferlmalone

“Having the opportunity to pay it forward as a Pitch Wars mentor feels pretty amazing. You realize how much work goes on behind the scenes, strictly because writers are willing to spend tons of time and energy helping other writers they don't even know. I know Cupid, Krista Van Dolzer, Brenda Drake, and Monica B.W. worked like crazy on the contest that got me my agent, and that they continue to help the community (all four are involved in Pitch Wars) while writing their own stuff boggles my mind. How could I not want to make every effort to pay it forward with role models like that??” –Dahlia

“The writing community is the most supportive group of people I've ever come across. Every writer who takes the time to help another writer, whether that's answering questions, critiquing work, holding contests, etc. is AMAZING! Let's keep paying it forward people!” –Kim @kpchase817

“The fantastic thing about this community is that everybody is willing to help each other. Mentoring in contests, or simply critiquing entries, is a wonderful way to pay it forward--and learning something in the process!” –Marieke @mariekeyn


10. Winning- but not necessarily the contest.

“’Winning’ the contest is seriously the least of it. Gaining a community, betas, CPs, cheerleaders... these things are invaluable. It's like that "teach a man to fish" saying. Winning a contest gets you the fish, and it's great, but just being in a contest gives you all the tools to fish on your own, and that's no small thing!” –Dahlia

“You always win something when entering a contest. Info on what agents are looking for, feedback on your pitch, seeing what else is out there, what works and what doesn't, connecting with other writers and making friends. It's all Winning!” -Kim

Sure, winning could be getting to the final round and collecting requests from agents. If you do that, good for you! But if you’ve accomplished any of the things on this list, consider the contest a win. :)

*A big thank you to the fabulous writers who contributed to the post!


  1. These posts are great, Dee. I'm going to encourage my writing group friends to read them. My manuscript has become much stronger because of contests. Plus, they have helped me to meet wonderful people like you :)

  2. Ack, sorry I missed your deadline for this post. I love the sense of community, too, and the feedback. Thanks to all for the words of wisdom!

  3. This was such a great post Dee! I would so much rather be reading this again than listening to my 11 year old yelling at me from the bathroom that there are no towels. I'll have to pop back later.

  4. So encouraging! A HUGE thank you to the writing mentor hosts, who, without, none of this would be. Best gift ever! Happy Holidays!


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