How Bardsy's Writing Contests Are Unique

Celeste Davidson
Aug-04 - Try This
Grading Loki and Sylvie’s Relationship
Jul-23 - Member Spotlight
Cupcake Antics
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You Should Take Advantage of Romance's Popularity
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What's the Best Romance Genre Mixer?
Jul-09 - Member Spotlight
Lovebirds
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How to Get Your Book Published
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A Serpentine Midsummer Night Dream
Jun-21 - Try This
Take This Tip Alliteratively
Jun-16 - Member Spotlight
Paradise Found
Jun-15 - Try This
Show and Tell for Adults
Jun-09 - Member Spotlight
Defying Gravity
Jun-07 - Try This
5 Types of Writer’s Block and How to Overcome Them
Jun-04 - Member Spotlight
A Stitch in Time - Literally!
Jun-01 - Try This
What the greatest openings say to you
May-28 - Member Spotlight
A Hitchhiking Cow's Guide to the Universe
May-25 - Try This
Risky Business
May-24 - Member Spotlight
A Story of Chance and Romance
Try This - Jul 06, 2021
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You cross your fingers, hit “submit” and launch your writing contest entry into the abyss. Time to forget about it completely unless you get that glorious email with “Congratulations” in the subject line, right?
Not quite. Entering contests isn’t only about winning first place. As in life, if all you’ve got your eyes on is the prize, you’re missing out on everything else you can glean from the process. In special cases, you can even increase your chances of winning after you submit your story. Well, at least you can with Bardsy. More on that in a bit.
For now, let’s take a look at our poll exploring why most people enter writing competitions:
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Of those who enter contests, most say they do so “to have fun and take a chance,” while the second-highest response is “to (hopefully) get feedback.” The less popular answers include “to have someone read my work” and “to set a deadline to complete an entry.”
What’s striking is that over half of respondents say they don’t even enter writing contests. My question is, why not? If the contest is free (like ours), you have little to lose but much to gain, and I’m not talking about that sweet stack of cash and possible publication cred.

Four undervalued benefits of entering contests
1. Get the story feedback you need to improve.
How can you ever expect to grow as a writer if you don’t ask others what they think of your work? Short answer: you can’t. You don’t know what you don’t know. We could all use a fresh eye on our writing so we can learn what’s working really well and what’s not quite as strong.
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Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right.
— Neil Gaiman

Recall how one possible poll answer was “to (hopefully) get feedback”? Well, here's the great news. Unlike most other sites, Bardsy offers professional feedback on all member-submitted entries. What’s more, we offer the opportunity to polish your story, based on our constructive suggestions, before we make our final decision. Your odds of winning just got a whole lot better, and so did your story, whether it's a winner this time or not.
2. Motivate yourself to complete a story with a deadline.
Do you struggle to hold yourself accountable so you can actually finish a writing project? If you feel like you have mountains of incomplete work, the rigid deadlines short story competitions provide may be exactly what you need. Sometimes it's tricky to enforce self-imposed due dates, but you can eliminate procrastination with an external one. If you don’t complete your story in time, you’ll lose your shot at winning—and that’s a powerful motivator.
3. Be inspired by contest prompts.
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[Writing contests] challenge me and push me outside my comfort zone.
— A poll respondent

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We often write ourselves into a corner without realizing it. We tend to run on autopilot, opting for the same types of characters, conflicts, worlds, themes and plots. Contest prompts refresh our writing and propel us in a new direction. They foster creativity too: since multiple writers are using the same prompt, you’ll be pushed to come up with an original interpretation. Or, if you’re facing a shortage of ideas, a contest can also cut out time spent spinning your wheels, wondering, “What should I write about?”
4. Take pride in knowing others are reading your story.
Although it may feel like entering a contest is sending your story into no man’s land, the truth is, it will be read. As writers, we want our words to be shared, not sit on a shelf collecting dust. At Bardsy, it’s not only those choosing the winning entry that read your story, either. You can count on your fellow community members to read your story, and leave their thoughts during our reading period.
Taking the plunge to share your story can result in a lovely adrenaline rush, as you set your story free and bravely put yourself out there. Even if you don’t win, you’ll walk away with winning self-confidence.

Well, there you have it. There's more to writing contests than gold and glory. Get the most out of every competition you enter, including the one currently in the works at Bardsy HQ. Sharpen those pencils and get that coffee brewing—the official announcement is coming soon!

Try this: Write a few opening lines inspired by the picture below: think of it as a warm-up for our next contest. Be sure to send us your paragraph so we can share our favorites next week.
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Update, some of the best responses to the prompt:
Find me in the fading light, where all else has ceased away. Take my arm and hold me close— ignite the princess put at bay. In your arms I’m finding peace… Of a life I never knew. We can be merged as a fairytale legend that from the darkness grew. The monotony of reality fades as I melt into a dream. Here I feel wanted. I feel secure. Finally I can be.
— Rachel
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