How to Submit to a Creative Writing Contest

Writing contests can be exciting to enter and frustrating to participate in. The premise is simple: you enter a piece that you’ve polished to perfection and hope for the best. For the serious writer, however, writing contests are an opportunity to sharpen writing skills and gain publicity or professional credibility. If these things interest you, you may want to consider entering a contest yourself. What have you got to lose? Here are some thoughts about entering a writing contest.

­­Pay attention to the contest guidelines

The minimum requirement to successfully participating in a writing contest is to submit work that follows the guidelines of the contest. Simply put, this means that you will submit work that stays within the word count and properly reflects the contest theme. For example, a short horror story with a word count of 4000 words would be an improper submission for a contest that requires a 2000-word story about supernatural romance. If you’re in doubt, see if there are examples from previous contests to give you an idea of what the judges are looking for, but avoid repeating or sourcing from these works. Look for submission dates, formatting preferences, document type, and any other details the publishing organization gives you, like a specific email, subject line, or submission platform. And be prepared with a lot of patience! Contests usually take up to six months or more after the closing date to respond to submissions.

Present your work professionally

There is a sense in which a creative writing contest is a peer review. Writing experts review your work against a standard of excellence. No matter how compelling your content, your chances of doing well in a creative writing contest will be nil if you present your work unprofessionally. At a bare minimum, this means proofreading, proofreading, proofreading… and adhering to grammar rules. A great way to avoid editing fatigue is to have another set of eyes look at your writing.

If you’re considering entering a piece in a creative writing contest, contact us for guidance with the editing and submission process!

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