When you’re first starting out as a writer, contests are an absolute must. You get a concrete deadline, a chance to get your name out there, and maybe even the chance to win some money. After all, the starving artist is a stereotype for a reason, and we could all use some extra cash.
There are a ton of contests out there, and a lot of them have some rather big issues. For one thing, a lot of them require reading fees. While a lot of legitimate contests require reading fees to cover costs, it’s often either a red flag for me or honestly just right out of the budget. Especially when you’re a new writer, don’t pay for what you can get for free.
If you’d like to start entering contests, check out Mash. It’s a new concept with writing contests. You have to design your story around the three words assigned for each contest.
I love this contest because
1. It’s flash fiction, meaning a max word count of 500 words. This fits nicely into my already crowded to do list. While flash fiction takes just as much thought and creativity, it doesn’t take as much time as, say a huge novel that won’t even be one third done by the time I’ve put 50,00 words into it.
2. It’s a creative exercise. When you’re required to use three words, you can’t always stick to your preferred genre. When you write the same three things every day, like I do (blog post, freelance piece, fantasy novel,) it helps keep your voice fresh. I see writing a mash story like rinsing out my mouth after a cup of coffee.
3. It’s always going on. So, if you are reading this after the next deadline, Jan 15, 2015, there’s another one coming.
4. The judges are very personal. They’re putting a lot of work into this. My last story wasn’t even shortlisted, sadly, but the judges put in the time to send me a critique e-mail. Even though I didn’t agree with everything they said, there were some good points. And, again, I was really touched they took the time.
So, check out Mash. It’s worth the time, no matter how you look at it.