Writing competitions to inspire creativity


Now that university writing deadlines are out-of-the-way, I need to set my own time-orientated goals to drive my creativity. Writing competitions with their submission deadlines could help to inspire good writing habits.

Stop procrastinating

I’m worried that I will procrastinate if my writing goals and due dates are not tied to a significant reward. What if I’m tempted to keep moving the goal posts? Knowing that an external reward and urgency lies behind the goal’s date should help to drive my productivity.

If you’re like me, committing to writing competitions could:

  • Generate achievable goals with an external purpose.
  • Provide an opportunity to create new projects.
  • Create new opportunities such as networking with other writers and publishers.

Writing competitions also inspire revision of current work. You could:

  • Revise a story that might be a few words over or under the required word count.
  • Dust off a previously shelved story and rewrite it for the competition.

Make sure to you check the guidelines before you start revising.

Writing competitions
Be sure to read the winning entries from previous years. This can help you learn more about the competitions expectations.

How to keep writing goals accountable

  • Enlist the help of a trusted writing friend to keep you motivated and on target.
  • Make a personal commitment that has rewards or repercussions.

Choose a friend with whom you can share your writing goals. Ask this person for help with reaching your goals. Plan to send them your writing to get their readerly feedback.

Commit to your writing goals

  • Write your goals down.
  • Write them in your diary or calendar.
  • Add them to your electronic calendar and reminders.
  • Make a poster of  your goals and stick it on the wall or fridge.

Focus on the writing rewards

What rewards can you look forward to if you keep this commitment?

Competitions make fabulous goals as they come with many rewards. Aside from recognition and the chance to be shortlisted, competitions may also offer:

  • The feeling of satisfaction that comes with completing a new project.
  • Networking opportunities with entrants and judges.
  • Feedback from the judges.

Even if you don’t place in the competition, you still have another work that you can revise some more (if needed) and seek to publish.

You can also set your own rewards for completing the goal. These might include:

  • A holiday, like a trip to hear the competition winners announced.
  • A treat, such as a new book or writerly journal.
  • A writerly date like an outing to an art gallery or theatre to soak in new experiences.

How to choose a writing competition as a goal

  1. Make a list of potential writing competitions for the next six to twelve months.
  2. Select competitions to enter, but remember to allow enough time to:
    • Research your chosen topic and themes.
    • Write your first draft before putting it aside for a few weeks.
    • Revise your work and revise some more.
    • Submit the manuscript before the due date with relevant entry fee.
  3. Read through and understand the competition guidelines and submission requirements.
  4. Check out the history of the competition, competition organisers and past winners. Make sure it’s legit before you send your money and manuscript.
Revising for competitions

Where to find information on writing competitions?

Writing groups and associations often give information about writing competitions to their members.  You may also find competitions advertised at libraries, universities and on social media.

A few Google searches also helped me to uncover these lists of writing competitions and other opportunities in Australia and overseas for 2017. Some competitions appear on multiple lists.

I also discovered a couple of writing competitions and awards that are yet to update their details for 2017. Keep an eye on these!

And here are a couple more added on 10 May 2017:

While I have a couple of short stories that I could revise as submissions, I may also create some new texts. While reading through the competition guidelines some fresh ideas have sprouted.

I’m particularly interested in the Henry Savery National Short Story Award, where entries close June 30, 2017.

While I plan to add three or four writing competition goals to my schedule for next year, I still have three writing projects and their self-imposed deadlines to manage. Hopefully, my critical writing friends can help keep me focused on these goals.


Do you know of any fun and popular writing competitions?

Comments, thoughts?