Whether you write non-fiction or fiction, there is a multitude of writing competitions for all kinds of writing out in the world. Winning (or placing) in a writing competition gives a writer something to put on their CV. This is especially important when you don’t have much history or experience that you can list as your credentials. But there are more benefits to writing competitions than you might contemplate. If you think that they are a waste of money, think again.
For many writers, procrastination is an issue. Having a deadline to finish something is a great strategy to overcome procrastination. So entering competitions with deadlines are great practise for the future when you have deadlines for industry requirements, such as getting your manuscript to your editor on time, or meeting print or marketing schedules.
There might be a cost to enter a competition and this should be seen as an investment in your career. You shouldn’t submit a piece for a competition unless it is as good as you can make it, so having this goal to enter will help you to edit and polish your work to the best you can. Through this exercise, you will learn good writing habits and treat your craft with more professionalism.
Your work may be seen by a prominent literary person. I have heard of people winning or placing in a competition and being asked to see more of their work by literary agents and editors or publishers of journals.
Don’t just look at the entry fee and say, ‘This is a waste of time because I won’t win.’ Win or not, you are actively pursuing a writing life and putting your work out there as much as possible. Each time you enter something, you are improving your skills and gaining exposure. Who knows who might come across your work? Many judges are prominent people in the industry and they may just see something they like.