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  • Writer's pictureJ. R. Erickson

The Many Perks to Writing Contests

I have to be honest, I don’t participate in many writing contests. Life has taken me on a journey that seems to plummet toward and then dramatically swerve away from the public world of writing. I’ve gone from blogging daily and submitting several stories or articles to contests monthly, to working at a Digital Marketing Agency and Writing Copy, to focusing solely on writing and marketing my novel Ula published in 2012, to these days, journaling and slogging through my sequel while also substitute teaching and teaching yoga. It’s an unpredictable life – something I love about it – but writing is always alive within me. It transforms, finds pools of thriving life and then recedes and dries in the desert sun. Despite the changes that my writing has undergone in my life, I return to it in one form or another and I am grateful when a unique opportunity to share my perspective, or craft a new story, comes along.

Several months ago, I submitted a very short piece of writing to Spirituality and Health Magazine as they were offering a contest to win a trip to Maui. Essentially, they asked readers to write about a spiritual practice and I wrote about nature. Nature is near and dear to my heart and I am never lost for words when it comes to waxing poetic about the trees and flowers and lakes that surround me. Much to my surprise and delight, I won the contest. Thus a few weeks ago, I spent an absolutely majestic ten days in Maui with my boyfriend. The prize included a five night stay at the tranquil, yoga-retreat center Lumeria and offered us a wonderful opportunity to relax, unwind and get centered during our visit. I wrote about meditation in my previous post and the powerful affect it can have on our writing. I felt this even more strongly as I pondered the winding path that life takes us on and how writing had taken me to a community designed to help us connect with the consciousness that lives beyond our individual identities. For me, it was evidence that my writing is most poignant when it is truly a reflection of my heart, and the writing contests that I have won have nearly always reflected this.

My good friend Jon loves science fiction. He began writing just a couple of years ago and hesitantly at first. A single father, in his late thirties, he did not necessarily feel capable of entering the mysterious and oft frightening world of writing. Despite his apprehensions, he began to write. He wrote science fiction stories and submitted them to flash fiction contests online. He got a few rejections and then he started winning. Suddenly, every time I talked with him, he told me about his latest contest win. The prizes ranged from $10 to $50, but ultimately the joy for Jon had nothing to do with winning some cash and everything to do with realizing his dreams and knocking down the walls he’d built around them. Since then he has written stories for published anthologies and in November he participated in NaNoWriMo (National novel Writing Month) and completed 50,000 words to a future novel.

When we open ourselves to the possibilities of where our writing might guide us, the whole world becomes available. There is no telling who will be touched by your words and what dark path, that you’d never gazed upon, might suddenly become illuminated. If you’re searching for an opportunity, a contest, an inspiration, anything – try out one of the contests below; perhaps you will discover a new path awaiting you.

Inspiration Travel Writing Contest – No Entry Fee – Deadline: 2/14/14

Disquiet Fiction, Nonfiction and Poetry Prize – $15 Fee – Deadline: 2/15/14

Penny Fiction Flash Fiction Writing Competition – No Fee – Deadline: 2/17/14

SF/LFA Short Fiction Contest – No Entry Fee – Deadline: 3/4/14

Shanti Arts Inspired Stories Competition – $15 Fee – Deadline 3/1/14

Phoebe Winter Writing Contest – $17 Fee – Deadline 3/8/14

Ginsoko Flash Fiction Contest – $5 Fee – Deadline 3/1/14

Lunch Ticket Creative Nonfiction – No Fee – Deadline 3/30/14

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