Without a doubt, I am currently spending considerably more time reading and researching than I am actually writing! I honestly don’t know if that is typical or a good thing, but I really see no other alternative. There is so much information to take in and I am trying my best to cover all angles. While I have enjoyed a 25-year career in education where writing has been a daily part of the job, this new direction is quite unique for me. For instance, other than upgrading and interacting on my new various Social Media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Google +, I have spent the second day of my 365-day journey to becoming a freelance writer simply researching writing contests and conferences.
I actually decided to spend a good portion of the day researching writing contests and conferences as a result of watching Carol Tice on a YouTube interview. During the conversation, she mentioned that a great place for beginning freelance writers to start would be to check out writing contests and places to network in person with other writers and editors. So, despite being unquestionably anxious to actually begin writing, I delved into the land of writing contests and conferences instead.
As I researched the subject, I once again found there to be no shortage of information. Google may be our friend, but it also brings back a vast amount of information which is often conflicting and difficult to filter. Nevertheless, as I began to sift through the overwhelming reams of information, I soon narrowed it down to a more manageable collection. I essentially wanted to have two questions which were preying upon my mind answered:
- Why bother with writing contests and conferences at all?
- Which contests should I enter and what conferences would be the best to attend?
I must admit, even though writing contests and conferences were suggested by some very reputable people, I still had my doubts. By their very nature contests are difficult to win. Could spending considerable time entering contests and creating written submissions actually be worth it? Despite the obvious time investment, I discovered that they actually are quite valuable. As Suzannah Windsor Freeman points out in her article, Pros and Cons of Entering Writing Contests, the advantages clearly outweigh the negatives. Not only is there a potential to earn money with contests, but they are a great way to build a portfolio, meet influential people in the industry, and push oneself to meet pressing deadlines. There is no room for procrastination if you are planning on entering writing contests. In truth, as long as no entry fees exist, there is little to lose by entering writing contests and a considerable amount to be gained.
As for writing conferences, meeting and networking with other writers, editors and influencers in person has obvious and clear benefits. People will always remember personal contacts and prefer to put a face to a name. With a natural introvert like myself, this is a huge learning curve but as the saying goes, “nothing ventured, nothing gained!”
In regards to actually finding decent writing contests and conferences, a little more work and filtering was required. The following are the best sources of information I was able to obtain (bear in mind however that I am Canadian and as such am particularly interested in those which are somewhat local).
- The Writer’s Market 2017
- A Curated List of Creative Writing Competitions, Contests and Awards
- The Write Life, 30 Fantastic Writer’s Conferences for Authors, Bloggers, and Freelancers
- Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs
- Thebpc.ca, Writing Conferences
- Canadian Authors, Contest Page
- Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions
By the end of the day, I signed up for 3 writing contests and have already begun working on my submissions. I am also planning on attending the Ontario Writers’ Conference later this year and must admit I am quite excited about the opportunity. Tune in tomorrow as I will be discussing the controversial topic of Content Mills and what I have discovered at this very early stage.