If you are serious about a career in writing it may be worth considering entering a few literary competitions. It’s always a useful thing to be able to throw into a pitch to an agent that you are a runner up or winner in this or that prize. It’s an acknowledgement that you’re good at what you do, and a much needed pat on the back if you are beginning to doubt your abilities (for most writers this happens every other day).
If you are writing a full length novel the timescale before you see any ‘success’ is extremely lengthy – we’re talking years. The majority of writers NEVER have their first novel published (yes I know, even more demoralising), and are often onto a third or fourth attempt before they receive any recognition. That’s where entering worthy writing competitions comes to the fore – giving you that much needed motivation when you begin to wander what the hell it’s all for.
It’s also an excellent way for people to get to know your name and your work – all part of the platform building process.
Another overlooked benefit of entering competitions is the opportunity to hone your skills. You may have to write about something you would have never dreamt of writing about, in a style unfamiliar to you and in a very short word count. This give you boundaries and focus!
Entering more competitions is on my To Do List for this year, now that I’ve actually finished my manuscript so I’ll let you know if I have any success. Meanwhile, I’ll post details of any competitions I hear about so you can take advantage of them. That said the first two I’m going to tell you about have already passed their closing date, but there’s nothing to stop you putting them in your calendar for next year and doing a bit of research in advance. Good luck!