Three simple words--Enter to Win--gives writers good advice about contests. If you don't enter, there's no way you can win. Simple, or so it sounds.
A lot of writers are reluctant to enter a writing contest. They might think their writing is not good enough to compete with others. They procrastinate until the deadline for entering is past. They can't come up with a good idea for the contest theme. They waver--yes-no-yes-no--until no decision gets made.
I know, and you know, too, that it takes a bit of courage to enter a contest. Sometimes, it also takes some cash you may not be willing to part with. No problem--there are plenty of contests with no entry fees. As a general rule, the ones that do charge a fee to enter also give larger prizes. Some of the contests that are free to enter promise publication to the winners and no more. For beginning writers that is prize enough. Some will debate that putting it in the same category with writing for pay vs writing for no pay.
There are plenty of places to find writing contests. Ask your old friend Google for a list. Specify 'no fee' if your prefer. Subscribe to newsletters for writers that offer news of submissions needed and contests to enter. Visit with other writers for news about contests. Watch your local newspapers for announcements of contests within writing groups in your state or region, or the paper itself.
Consider what you will send to a contest. It only makes sense that you will enter something you've written that is your best work. If you wrote something that multiple editors have rejected, then it's probably not the one you want to enter in a contest. What about taking that piece that has been rejected and polishing it until it sparkles? Then enter it!
You need to have a positive attitude when entering.. The odds of winning are not the greatest when only three prizes are given, but somebody is going to win and it could be you. You will never know if you don't enter.
I'm reminded of one of the first poems I wrote, then entered in my state authors group annual contest. What do I know about poetry? Won't there be lots of entries from seasoned poets? Should I pay the fee or not? It's probably money down the drain. But I did pay the fee and entered my poem which won first place and a nice check. What if I'd listened to my doubting self and shied away? I'd never have had the joy of being a winner.
Will you win every contest you enter? Most probably not. Will you become wiser about the kind of contest you enter and what the judges look for? I think you will. Entering writing contests is good experience. Go ahead, give it a try.