Writing competitions are a particularly good way to exercise your creative  muscle.  There are literally thousands of different competitions being offered online worldwide at any given time. Some offer quite substantial cash prizes, as well as the promise of publication and other accolades. Others reward you with free copies of the publication you will appear in, should you be a winner. Either way, these writing contests are a wonderful way to practice your craft, and train yourself in some of the disciplinary criteria they insist on. Not to mention that ever-so-necessary-ego-boost if you win even a minor prize. 

For example, The Writer’s Weekly 24 Hour Short Story Competition is a Flash Fiction contest offered 4 times a year. On the day prior to the start of the competition, you will be emailed with the theme/topic and word count of the current contest. Then you have just 24 hours to write your story. The contest is limited to 500 entrants, and there is an entry fee of $5.

  • First prize prize is $350 cash, 
  • Publication of winning story on the website. 
  • Writer’s Weekly Freelance Income Kit

You may be daunted by the idea of entering a competition, and think you don’t stand a chance against possibly thousands of entrants. But if I can risk throwing in a cliche here, you’ve gotta be in it to win it.

Many competition winners are chosen depending on the judges’ personal tastes, and judged by how closely you have fulfilled the criteria. 

Be sure to stick closely to the guidelines. 20 Tips for Winning Writing Contests  is a good article about critical judges, and how to increase your chances. This website is also a good resource for general writing tips.

As I mentioned, there are far too many competitions to list even a small cross section of them here. Luckily, other dedicated and clever people have already done the research and compiled lists for you. Some competitions are FREE to enter. Many competitions do charge a small entry fees, and some even include a personal critique service in that fee. 

Here is a listing (of listings) of  novel. short story, novella and poetry writing contests :

The list below covers novel, short story, novella and poetry competitions, and should give you dozens of ideas, and much inspiration. Throughout the early years of honing my skills, I regularly entered several poetry and short story competitions, and received some first, second and third prizes, honourable mentions, and even a little trophy. I’d like to say I won the majority of contests I entered. But I didn’t.You can’t win ’em all. But you won’t win any if you don’t enter. So enter one today, and enjoy!