The AVBOB Poetry Competition | How to Choose the Right Writing Competitions | AVBOB Poetry

How to Choose the Right Writing Competitions

With any budding creative writer, the need for one’s work to be read, critiqued and, of course, judged must eventually come to mind before embarking on a life as a professional author. Writing competitions are important for any aspiring writer, as they provide essential feedback for new work, be that poetry, short stories, novels, scripts for television dramas, or screenplays for the cinema.

One of the amazing aspects of writing competitions is the “blind” judging they allow. Anyone of any age, gender, colour, caste, or creed can find the right contest that speaks to them and their own unique style of writing.

Of course, not all writing competitions will suit everyone, so it is always important when you come across a contest that sparks your interest to read the rules carefully. You definitely don’t want to invest time and energy creating a short story set, for example, on a distant post-Armageddon planet, and then come across a rule stating every entry must be set in an eighteenth-century Dickensian slum. Similarly, you won’t pat yourself on the back when you finish the final chapter of your two-hundred-page novel, only to realise you were supposed to have written an eight-episode drama series. You also don’t want to follow all the rules of a writing competition to the letter, write the perfect submission, edit, and perfect it, only to scroll down to read that the deadline was yesterday, or that it will cost you money that you didn’t budget for to enter. Always check the rules, the dates and the editorial guidelines. Scroll down to the very bottom of any competition’s website.

When choosing the right writing competitions, it is very important to have patience – with yourself and with any kind of judging panel. The best opportunity is one that doesn't have a closing submission date for several months ahead, allowing you time to choose an existing piece or to write something completely new. Either way, time will be necessary to check every aspect of your entry – spelling, grammar, and storyline – before submission. Also, the deadline for submission will never mean all entries will be read, critiqued, and judged by the following week. The work can take many months to work through and, depending on the type of contest, all submissions can, and usually will, go through several stages to reach a final group of works considered for the top places.

Some writing competitions may charge an entrance fee for your submission, so be prepared for that. It is wise to invest time to research writing competitions to check for reviews from former entrants. It is also recommended that you find out if there will be any notification confirming receipt of your submission (that you’re now part of the competition) and whether or not you’ll receive a notification of your submission still being in the running or has failed to move forward to the next stage of the contest. It can be very disappointing to wait several months, read the winners, and then only realise your submission didn’t submit successfully.

For an example of one of the free, local writing competitions – and to find some inspiration – start by looking at The AVBOB Poetry Project.