Is it worth entering writing competitions?

You’ve probably seen writing competitions advertised on Twitter or in the press; there are hundreds of them! Newspapers, magazines, professional bodies, academic societies and many other organisations run competitions looking for the best article or essay on a particular topic. Topics range widely too, from science to economics and from the arts to politics and more. Usually there are prizes awarded.

But it’s nearly the holidays and, after all the exams and essays, writing might be the last thing you want to do over the summer. So what are the pros and cons of entering a writing contest? Is it worth your time or are there more productive things you could be getting up to?

Winning a competition demonstrates written communication skills: This is an extremely common requirement on many graduate job descriptions. Winning a competition will provide you with a distinctive way of proving that you have this skill, which could help you to stand out from other candidates.

Writing competitions can be fun! Writing outside of the requirements of academic assessment can be enjoyable – it gives you the opportunity to think and communicate about things you are passionate about, and to do so in interesting ways. It can be a way to stretch yourself and see what you’re capable of.

However, writing competitions are not a shortcut to a writing career: It’s important to think about what you want to get out of a writing competition. If you’re serious about pursuing a career as a writer, writing competitions alone won’t be enough for your CV – you’ll need experience pitching to editors and a track-record of publications. But this doesn’t mean that writing competitions are worthless – far from it! Winning or being a runner-up might give you more self-confidence, and more belief in your own abilities. Honing your entry will give you more experience in writing to a brief. And competitions are often run by prestigious organisations and have well-known judges, so they might provide an opportunity for networking with people in your field. A win could help you to stand out in the competitive writing world – but don’t apply for contests instead of trying to get published.


You can search Twitter to find writing competitions, and you should also use it to follow individuals and organisations in your field to hear about future competitions.

There are many student essay competitions – google your discipline to find out more!

Science writing: The Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prizean annual competition which requires an 800 word article.There is £1000 prize.

The Association of British Science Writers may also have info on various competitions.

Business and Politics:  Credit Suisse sponsor Project Firefly which runs a variety of rolling competitions with different prizes.

Creative writing: Ideas Tap collects information on various creative writing competitions. See the Writers and Artists website too.

Emily Hogg

Application Adviser, Careers & Enterprise Centre


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s