Sifting through the clutter of literary contests posted online or catalogued in different publications can be a very daunting task for writers who wish to submit their writing for publication.
I’ve known writers who have sifted through the different databases of contests and journals and fellowships, as well as the bible for writers, The Writer’s Market, and created their own rankings of contests and journals. But when combined with the notion that writers submit to many of these contests and journals hoping for acceptance but expecting rejection, and the fact that a 99% rejection rate would be considered a success, it can make for a downright horrid experience that anyone other than masochists would prefer to avoid.
But there is help.
One very excellent resource for writers to use in their quest for publication is Poets and Writers. Beyond being an excellent bi-monthly publication, the website offers a myriad of services for writers including: a catalogue of journals, agents, contests, MA and MFA programs, and fellowships; articles on writers and the writing process; a job search database; articles on querying a journal, agent or publisher; and an easy to use calendar for contests, conferences, and residencies. By creating a profile on Poets and Writers, you can set yourself reminders for contest deadlines, access features of the print magazine, and connect with other writers. Basically, the website is a tremendous one-stop-shop for writing smarter and getting your work out there more efficiently.
Another solid web resource for writers is Writer’s Digest, which, though it lacks the thorough database and calendar of contest and submission deadlines, does have writers discussing their craft, creative prompts for writers to get the creative juices flowing, and helpful tips to getting published or finding an agent . It also has a shop where you can purchase a variety of books on writing, as well as a number of forums for writers to meet one another and share their work.
If you don’t write fiction or poetry, consider checking out Freelance Writing. This website, in addition to having a solid database of writing contests and their deadlines, as well as articles on writing and the writing process, also focuses on business writing, screenplay writing, copywriting, ghost writing, social media writing, magazine writing, and more. This is a good website to get lost in as you read their extensive database of articles, watch videos and tutorials, listen to podcasts, read about upcoming events and deadlines, and look for writing jobs.
We wouldn’t be writers if we didn’t want to inflict pain on ourselves in some way, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to limit the pain, or at least save it for when we’re staring at the blank piece of paper or that irritating cursor that blinks on our computers, reminding us that we haven’t written a word. And though getting published or winning contests are rarely the reasons we write, they do give us some nice validation in a world that is dark and nebulous and filled with rejection. The easier we can make getting our work out there, the more time we can spend in front of that blank page, searching for the right word, the right sentence, the right way.