If you follow my blog, you’ve seen that most of my posts lately have been related to writing contests for creators of kidlit. I thought I’d take a few minutes to write an actual blog post about why I enter so many of these, and why you should consider them if you haven’t already.
- Hone your craft. All of these contests have a word limit. Some are as little as 50, and some go as high as 200. Regardless of the number of words allowed, it’s a challenge to create a story with a well-developed plot and a clear beginning, middle and end–in so few words. Also, writing from a prompt is a good skill to perfect, and many of these contests have prompts provided.
- Engage with the kidlit writing community. Writing is largely a solitary task, but many of these contests create a ton of engagement on Twitter. It’s fun to read other entries and to share your own. You’ll meet other people who love creating stories for kids and make writing friends–maybe even critique partners if you’re lucky. In fact, to increase engagement, my SCBWI region is hosting two “write-ins” this month to work on our entries for the upcoming Spring Fling Writing Contest.
- Get your work out there. One of the biggest hurdles for new writers is sharing your work. It can make you feel vulnerable, but feedback is incredibly useful in helping us become better writers. It’s incredibly satisfying to hear that your story connected with someone, making them laugh or cry. Sometimes in this tough business, it’s the encouragement we need to keep going!
- Learn what types of stories hook the judges. Some of the people judging entries are kidlit agents. Some are agented/published kidlit authors. Even if your entry doesn’t win a prize, you can still get something valuable out of the contest. By looking at the entries that were picked by the judges, you see what types of stories resonated. This can be useful when crafting manuscripts to query.
- Have Fun! For most of us, writing is a creative outlet. Something about the challenge and brevity of these stories has been just the tonic I’ve needed to get through some of my creative slump during the pandemic. You’ve got nothing to lose, and so much to gain. I hope you give it a try.
- Get inspired! I’ve been participating in these contests for several years now, and many of the followers I’ve gained from them are gaining representation and/or announcing books deals. I signed with an agent in January of this year and many of the people congratulating me on Twitter were the ones I’ve been entering contests with. It really does build community.
I’d love to answer any questions you might have about these contests. I’m including some of the ones I’ve entered below.
If you decide to enter, good luck and have fun! Happy Writing!
Here are a few of my entries that have won prizes:
Links to some wonderful contests: