Embracing Adventure “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” ~~Hellen Keller

How Will I Pay for Grad School? Part 3: Writing Contests

The First DraftLast time I told you about looking for scholarships. Despite specifically searching for those scholarships available for graduate students, I had to wade through so many that were only for undergrads. This was a little discouraging, but I kept looking. At one point, I found the Ayn Rand Institute’s essay contest around the novel Atlas Shrugged. It was for high school seniors, undergraduates, and graduate students with a grand prize of $10,000.

I vaguely remembered having come across this essay contest in high school and starting the book although I didn’t end up applying. I didn’t apply this time either, but it got me thinking. Many writing contests aren’t tied to a grade level requirement, and even those that are (like this one) don’t tend to have a requirement on how you use the funds. I had won the Kindle grand prize in Evolved Publishing‘s first contest, so why not try my hand at winning some for the purposes of helping to pay for school? Within the first night of looking, I already had more writing contests to attempt than I’d found scholarships I was qualified for, and the odds of winning any of these contests were probably the same or maybe even better than winning scholarships.

I already had some “go to” places to look for calls for submissions (which you can read about here) and a few have designated sections for contest calls. While I did some Google searches to see what else I could find, I mostly stuck to my tried-and-true sites. I specifically looked only for those contests which either did not have a fee or had a small one. Whether you are willing to pay fees for a contest and, if so, what your threshhold is are personal questions you’ll have to answer for yourself. Personally, I don’t want to pay a $35 fee to only possibly win $1000, or even $10 if the prize is only $100. I was willing to pay an $11 fee to possibly get $7000 though, and sometimes I’ve been willing to pay a little more if the submission also includes a subscription to the literary journal or magazine that is hosting the contest.

WRITE ALL THE THINGSAll that said, here are some of the places I’ve used to look for contests:

New Pages Classifieds: Writing, Book & Chapbook Contests

New Pages updates pretty frequently and notes in red the date each batch was added. They update pretty frequently. The last one was on July 1. Each contest has the title in bold, the submission deadline, a biref description inlcuding the amount and if there is a reading fee, and the link where you can see more information from the sponsor.

Places for Writers

Places for Writers requires that contests be open to Canadian residents, and you may find some that are only open to Canadians. But many places allow submissions to Canadians and Americans, and sometimes to people from other nations as well. Each listing has a headine with the type of contest and prize amount (for example, Poetry contest with $1000 prize). Below that, you’ll see the journal that is sponsoring the contest and more about the contest including length criteria for the submission, the entry fee (if there is one), and the deadline with a link to the journal’s full guidelines. This list is updated pretty often. The last one was June 17th.

Poets & Writers Classifieds

The Poets & Writers page has a number of types of listings. On the left side, the sixth option down is for contests. You’ll find a box of listings with a blurb on each. It is updated every two months, and the current list is for July/August.

Creative Writing Contests

This blog provides details on a number of writing contests. You can scroll down through them, or go to the left and down below the calendar to use the monthly archives.

Poetry Writing Contests with No Entry Fee (for 2013)

I actually just found this list on Hub Pages yesterday, but it seems to be useful so far. A cool feature of this list is that it includes a table that can be sorted alphabetically by award title, by prize amount, and by deadline. Below that, there are the usual blurbs about each contest, usually followed by a link to apply to the contest. A lot of them are only for people who have recently published a first book, but there are a few others as well, and the author of the page says that he will be adding more contests for 2013 to the page.

Fiction Contests and Other Opportunities

This is a blog that I just came across today. I found almost a dozen contests to apply to that I don’t recall seeing on the other lists, so it’s worth checking out. I recommend using the links for the different months near the top of the list to avoid having to scroll through months that have already gone by.

Last year, none of the contests ended up coming through for me. But, just as with the scholarship search, I’ll be trying again this year.

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