Why Enter a Writing Contest?

Don’t Let Writer’s Fear Be An Insurmountable Obstacle to You!

“But I’m not good enough, yet.”

“I’m just not ready!”

I often get responses like these when I encourage a beginner (or not so beginner) writer to enter our Flash Fiction Contest. It is almost always the fearful, “Maybe I’m not a good enough writer yet.”  Or sometimes I hear, “maybe next  year. . .when I get better.” I love it when they go home and think about their piece and what I tell them–then come back with “do you really think my story could win?

Writers around the world share this deep-seated fear that their writing might not be good enough to measure up against others, so why bother trying?

Prolific writer, author and writing coach, Jerry Jenkins, says, “. . .I highly encourage you to enter contests, regardless your skill level. Why? Because entering the right contest can tell you how you measure up against the competition and what you still need to learn.”

Why is this such vital information for all of us writers? Jerry’s answer is  “you just might surprise yourself.” You might even win, he says–and how great would that feel?

Jenkins believes that entering a writing contest helps writers, no matter their skill level, to objectively evaluate their work. After all, that’s how a judge views the writer’s work. And if you take the next step and pay for a written critique (if offered), you can learn even more about your work and constructive ways to improve it. Today, as you came to this blog, you may have been thinking your work is still not good enough to meet the “I’m a real writer” standard. Maybe you even feel like an imposter telling people you’re a writer–and you fear being found out! I want to challenge you to consider some important lessons you will learn through entering a contest. It just may be the very thing to  turn you into the serious writer you long to be.

Take it from a beginner who took the first step and entered our Pikes Peak Flash Fiction contest–and won!

Ingrid . Jendrzejewski, three-time winner of the Pikes Peak Branch of NLAPW Flash Fiction Contest, says this about her experience of taking that first risky step of entering.

“This competition has special meaning for me.  It was the first contest I entered when I decided to pull up my socks and take writing seriously, and I won third place.  It was also my first publication.  That was in 2014, and since then, I have published around 100 pieces — mostly short stories and flash fiction, with a bit of poetry to round things out — and have won the Bath Flash Fiction Award and the A Room of Her Own Foundation’s Orlando Prize for Flash Fiction, among other things.  As for the Pike’s Peak contest, lightning struck twice in 2015 and then — unbelievably — thrice this year; I’ve received third place every time.  It feels like everything started here!  I’m sure I would have continued writing whether or not I’d placed in 2014, but those early publications do so much to build confidence and to motivate one in getting work out there.”

How are you doing on your own writing goals for 2018?

The team of writers who sponsor and judge the Pikes Peak Pen Women’s Annual Flash Fiction Contest go to a lot of trouble to encourage writers, just like you, to put their best foot forward and enter our contest. Their critiques are thoughtfully written to offer every writer who requests it, quality advice on improving their piece.

If you were in a room with any one of them right now, they’d say:

  • Contests force you to meet a deadline—a crucial skill for any writer
  • Competitions help you learn how to write according to a proposed theme
  • Contests force you to learn the mechanics of the form/genre and word count, as stated in the contest rules
  • Contests teach you, the writer, to work diligently on revision and self-editing
  • And, if you win, contests often give you free exposure, publication, and/or a monetary prize
  • Contests help you to become more objective about your writing and a little more ‘tough-skinned’ when you receive a rejection

Now, stop for a minute. Imagine yourself benefiting from all these lessons. AND imagine yourself being chosen as one of the best writers in a contest–maybe even THE best. Wouldn’t that feel incredible? You’ll never know that feeling until you try.

Ingrid thought it was worth it.

Here’s how she ended her letter to me, after receiving her award certificate and prize money.

“. . . big thank-you to the Pike’s Peak Branch, not just for this year, but for really jump-starting my public writing life.  It’s truly an honor to appear on your winner’s page again!”

So, my word to you is this:

This year, you could be a winner. And just imagine how good that will feel! Yes, writer’s fear can be an obstacle to moving forward in our writer’s journey, but it’s not an impossible one to overcome.

Thank you for stopping by our blog today. Please tell your friends about Pikes Peak Pen Women’s Annual Flash Fiction Contest.

Linda Bridges, Vice President for Pikes Peak Branch of NLAPW

Linda, at her writing desk.

See Where Ingrid Jendrzejewski’s Is today:

Her first published flash fiction won third place in the 2014 Pikes Peak NLAPW Flash Fiction Competition. And again in 2016 and second place in 2017.  Since then, she’s published around 100 stories and poems in places like Passages North, The Los Angeles Review, Rattle, and The Conium Review, and she has received honors such as the Bath Flash Fiction Award and the A Room of Her Own Foundation’s Orlando Prize. Links to Ingrid’s work can be found at www.ingridj.com and she occasionally tweets @LunchOnTuesday. Go here to read her winning story! http://www.pikespeakpenwomen.com/flash-fiction-winners/

1 Comment

  1. Nicely done, Linda, and Ingrid’s words ring so true. Congratulations to her for her “hat trick” as it is called in ice hockey when a player scores 3 goals in one game!

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