The Charm of Writing Competitions

With the new year comes a whole new season of writing contests and challenges. As I see all the announcements and the posters, it takes me back to the first writing challenge I had participated in. Organised by WomensWeb, it was a blogathan sponsored by a dating app, and my blog post (Where Art Thou?) was adjudged one of the winning entries. These writing contests (beware of the paid scams, though) offer you the chance to get published. The best part of these challenges is that the only thing that works is your writing prowess, as these contests are judged by publishing and writing experts strictly on the basis of the quality of writing.

Writersmelon hosts its annual writing competition, Melonade and is aimed at discovering new writing talent. Their latest offering Jukebox, published by Readomania, is a collection of short stories from veteran and new writers, alike.

The Muse of the Month challenge hosted by WomensWeb is a monthly writing theme that offers the top 5 entries to get published on the website at the end of the month, and the best selection of all the stories to be published in an anthology at the end of the year.

The currently ongoing SHEROES #SHEWrites Challenge – to share the story of a woman who we admire – is another such wonderful opportunity to share stories of women who inspire us to push ourselves to be better, do more, and become better versions of ourselves. They need not even be celebrities or famous names. Many regular women around us are shining examples of exemplary determination, overcoming challenges, and sometimes even competing with themselves to emerge victorious.

Many of these women deserve a public recognition and their stories deserve to be shared publicly.

But why should one participate in a contest?

Vasudha Chandna Gulati, two-time winner of Write India season 1 and editor of Readomania’s soon-to-be released anthology titled Twilight’s Children – Chronicles of Uncommon Lives, says, ‘Writing, contrary what people think is a skill which needs constant honing. Participating in writing contests ensures one is constantly dusting and polishing the skill.’

Kasturi Patra, one of the authors in When Women Speak Up, says, ‘Participation is the key. You may win, you may not. If you do win however, it’s a great feeling. Knowing your writing deserves that platform and is good enough to be published gives a much-needed boost, especially if you’re new to writing.’ Indeed!

I’ve been lucky to have experienced this, and being part of such a book (Mock, Stalk and Quarrel) made a huge difference to my confidence as a writer. Knowing my writing was publish-worthy was just the encouragement I needed after I made the jump from hospitality to writing. It wasn’t all victory and awards, though. I’ve had my share of rejections in many of these writing contests. If the wins kept me motivated, its the rejections that kept me grounded and dedicated to improving my writing for the next win.

Sutapa Basu, the very first winner of TOI Write India Season 1 and author of Dangle and Padmavati: The Queen Tells Her Own Story, says, ‘It pushes one’s performance up to the highest standard of one’s ability, prompts the writer to be acutely self-critical and make an all-encompassing effort to raise one’s standard of writing to the highest possible grade. Once the writer reaches there he/she will stay at that level for all future writings or become even better.’ The biggest advantage of writing for such contests and challenges is that it offers you new ideas and prompts to write on, sometimes forcing you to write outside your comfort zone and pushing your own creative limits.

Anita Nair’s prompt in TO Write India Season 1 pushed me to explore a genre and narrative I never would have attempted otherwise. Vasudha agrees, ‘It’s easy to get carried away when my imagination lets the words flow, however a competition restricts me and ties me to its rules. I have to reach within myself to find a way out of the narrow confines to create a story. I love the very challenge of grappling with my characters in my head and putting them through the dilemmas a prompt throws at me.’

Most of these contests have a deadline so it helps to start writing early. Vasudha says, ‘The time restrictions are also great for a serial procrastinator like me. I have written a number of short stories in this manner, some have been good and found their home in books.’

That I think is the ultimate goal, and one which the Sheroes #SheWrites challenge, in collaboration with publisher Juggernaut Books, offers you as the top 10 entries will get a digital publishing contract from Juggernaut Books and be published as part of the SHEROES Anthology.

The SHEROES #SheWrites challenge ends on February 7th, 2018. More details are available here. If you have any questions regarding the contest or writing for challenges in general, join the Aspiring Writers community for an AMA session with Piyusha Vir, at Thursday, February 1st, 2018 at 9 PM.

About the author:

Piyusha Vir turned to writing in 2015, and has since then published articles in various magazines and websites including SHEROES, MyCity4Kids, WomensWeb, and LBB Delhi. When not writing (insane articles that defy all logic; read them all on her blog Wandering Soul Writer) or reading (books that she never seems to be able to finish), she is found day-dreaming about being the next JK Rowling. She is currently working on her novel, which may release sometime before her next rebirth.
Connect with her:  Blog | Twitter

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