Category Archives: Writing Contests

How Do I Become a Writer?

By My Web Writers

Photo by Virginia Hammer

Photo by Virginia Hammer

Ernest Hemingway allegedly quipped, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Writing is a hard, often frustrating processes. Nonetheless, for those with the talent and the desire to write, there isn’t much more rewarding. To become a writer, you’ll need more than talent and practice, you’ll also need to find your niche, join a community of writers, and train yourself in the craft of selling your writing to editors, publishers, and readers.

Finding Your Voice

If you study the lives of great writers, you’ll find that they all practiced their writing. A lot. Work on your writing every day, even if it’s only for a half an hour. As you produce more work, even if it’s not good, you’ll begin to notice the techniques you’re really good at and those that still need more practice. More importantly, you’ll begin to learn what your voice sounds like as a writer.

What type of writer you want to be will determine how you practice your writing. Different types of writing careers demand different conventions and styles. For example, if you want to write essays and articles for magazines, read the best magazines out there (The New Yorker, TIME, or major titles in your fields of interest) and study what makes a great article. Then practice. Do research, conduct interviews, and commit yourself to writing an article a week. That way you’ll train your voice and produce a solid portfolio of pieces to pitch to possible employers and editors.

If you want to write poems, books, or other literature, keep up with new titles and trends in contemporary publishing. Learn what is selling currently and consider how your unique voice fits in or fills a gap. Produce a poem, short story, or chapter a week and continue to revise.

Blogging can function as a way to practice and train these skills, too. Post new work to your blog at least on a weekly basis (the more frequently the better), network with other bloggers, and get feedback on your work. (Check out our tips about making your blog a brand.) Focus your blog on demonstrating your particular genre or style of writing. That way you can both work on your craft and on making a name for yourself.

Writers’ Communities

An essential part of developing a writing career is an active writers’ community. One of your most valuable resources is the feedback of other people. Other writers will be able to give you better insights than someone who isn’t thinking critically about writing (or someone who loves you, like your mom). Search your area for local workshop groups or find an online writing buddy. For those striving for a literary career, one of the best ways to really develop your writing is to enroll in an M.A. or M.F.A program in creative writing. These days many successful journalists also have a Master’s degree. Whether you’re already in school, or thinking about enrollment, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) conference is an excellent resource. Their annual conference draws thousands of writers from across the country to network, workshop, and have fun.

Find Your Audience: Writing is a Business Too

Though a lot about writing has changed since Hemingway sat down at his typewriter, the basic skills for turning your creative passion into a publication or a career continue to hinge on your ability to sell your writing. Writing is an art, but it’s also a business. In addition to daily practice of your writing, you’ll need to learn how to write a query letter in order to find an agent or a job. If your aim is a literary career, practice writing queries, synopsis, and sample chapters. Hand them out to writers in your workshop group and ask them if they’d buy the project you’re pitching. The Literary Marketplace is your guide to finding agents and places to publish. If your goal is a freelance or marketing career, check out our list of  Job Sites for Copy Writers. In the meantime, keep up with that blog to maintain your online presence.

To become a writer you’ll need to figure out how your voice contributes to the existing marketplace or field. What makes your writing worth reading? Continue to practice what makes your work unique as well as strengthening the areas where your writing is weak. Developing an awareness of what your writing offers is a key way to selling your writing in query letters and manuscripts. ~Kasey

Good luck!


Filed under Content Job Boards, Editors, Resumes, Time Management, Web Writers, Women Writers, Writing Careers, Writing Contests

Ten Organizations for Women with Careers in Writing

Women in writing

Photo by Ed Yourdon.

By My Web Writers

Historically, writing has been a popular career for women, providing both flexible commitments, creative expression, and financial benefit. Writing, however, can be a hard career to break into and writers often rely on community to help develop their careers and find support. Today, there are plenty of organizations for women with careers in writing. Check out these organizations to find a writing community that fits your field and aspirations.

National Organizations

The International Women’s Writing Guild “is a network for the personal and professional empowerment of women through writing and open to all regardless of portfolio.” Since 1976, the organization has worked to support women’s writing through conferences, connections to journals and agents, and writer’s retreats.

The Contemporary Women’s Writing Association supports both the creative efforts of women writers as well as the academic study of women’s writing. The association publishes a journal featuring articles about women writers since the 1970s and holds an annual conference of women’s writers and academics.

A Room of Her Own, inspired by the pivotal Virginia Woolf book, the organization strives to “ build a community of moral support and practical resources designed to inspire, facilitate, and encourage women writers and artists.” AROHO offers grants and awards for women writers as well as an annual retreat and conference for women writers to network and take a break to revive their creative energy.

Academic Societies

If you’re interested in the study of women writers, there are also many academic organizations that celebrate female authors and artists. You can visit conferences to learn more about the herstory of women’s writing and become involved by writing your own articles for presentation too. The British Women’s Writers Conference focuses on writers from across the pond while the Society for the Study of American Women Writers engages with the writing of women in the States. The conference meets annually, promotes new publications, and is “committed to diversity in the study of American women writers — racial, ethnic, gender, class, sexual orientation, region, and era — as well as of scholars participating in the Society.” Additionally, many other academic conferences have divisions for discussing the writing of women.

Online Communities

There are also many organizations online for women writers to find community and resources for continuing to work on their careers.

She Writes offers webinars, forums, and resources for women writers to network with one another and form writers’ communities to work on their writing and pursue publication. The organization also includes a press to support the self-publication of women writers. She writes is an especially strong platform for women from various careers and levels of achievement to connect with one another, making it a strong tool for networking and self-education.

Women Writers, Women, Books is an online literary journal dedicated to promoting the work of contemporary women writers. In addition to publishing the journal, the site also features new books by women writers and features about how to get published.

Wow! Women on Writing is an e-zine that focuses on writing careers and women writers. The site offers a plethora of articles about writing as well as on-line seminars about different writing careers and techniques.

The Smart Women’s Institute also offers courses on starting a writing career. The organization, touted by Woman Entrepreneur, NPR, CBS, and other national outlets, the site provides free tools, books, and coaching to help women launch successful careers in writing.

Look Locally

Many communities have workshops and associations for writers. Check your area for a writer’s community you could join. You might have a long-standing organization right in your back yard. For example, over the last thirty years, the Madwomen in the Attic workshop series has been providing a forum for women in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to share their writing and get feedback and support from one another. The workshop also provides opportunities for writers to do public readings of their work.

My Web Writers is a woman-owned company that features the work of many female writers. Use your local resources to find out what companies in your area might also promote the work of women in the field of writing.

If you’re a woman writer looking to start or continue to develop a career, you might also be interested in our tips on how to manage your writing career or information on different careers for word lovers. You can turn your hobby into a career while continuing to hone your craft. ~Kasey


Filed under Conferences, Content Job Boards, Editors, Leadership, Resumes, Women Writers, Writing Careers, Writing Contests

Annual Essay Contests You Shouldn’t Miss

by My Web Writers

Prize money. Recognition. Just knowing your work was superior. Whatever the reason, people who love to write are thrilled to win contests. Are you a content writer looking to get noticed? Perhaps you’re a stay-at-home mom with a story to tell, or an engineer with a great idea . No matter whom you are or what you do, you should enter an annual essay contest at least once in your life!

Whatever the contest, do your research and make sure the contest is legit and that the entry fee isn’t too high. Most essay contests are either free to enter or around $20 per entry.

Writer’s Digest Writing Competition

Writer’s Digest currently offers 11 writing contests, one of which being the Annual Writing Competition. While most of the other writing contests for the magazine are based on fiction, this is a contest that accepts essays. The first entry you submit has a $25 fee, but the prize money may be worth the entry fee. With a grand prize of $3,000 cash, a trip to New York City and individual attention from editors and agents, who would want to pass this one up? The early bird submission deadline is May 12.

Real Simple Life Lessons Essay Contest

Since the year 2000, the magazine Real Simple has reached millions of readers, and for the past four years, the magazine has held an essay contest based on a theme. For example, the theme for 2011 was “When did you first understand the meaning of love?” The winning essay (no more than 1,500 words) is published in the magazine, and the writer receives $3,000 and a trip for two to New York City. Competition is fierce, as there were more than 7,000 entries in last year’s contest.

Fourth Genre Michael Steinberg Essay Contest

Fourth Genre, a journal showcasing works of nonfiction published by Michigan State University Press, holds an annual essay/memoir contest with a $1,000 prize and publication in an issue of the journal. Judges are looking for creativity and encourage unpublished authors to enter. There is a $20 entry fee for each submission. Essays are limited to 6,000 words. Last year’s contest had more than 300 submissions.

Wag’s Revue Summer/Winter Writers Contest

Wag’s Revue is an online-only publication filled with essays, stories, poems and interviews. Twice a year the publication holds an essay contest, offering a first prize amount of $1,000. Second place is awarded $500, and third place receives $100. Essays are to be no longer than 10,000 words and cost $20 per entry. Looking through past contest winners, you will see that length varies greatly. You need not write 10,000 words to win this contest.

My Real-Life Story Essay Contest

Believe it or not, this Glamour magazine essay contest isn’t just for the ladies. Anyone over the age of 18 can enter. While there is no entry fee, you can only enter one essay. The winner receives $5,000, the possibility of his or her essay being published in an issue of Glamour, and the opportunity to meet with a literary agent. Winners in the past have written essays about topics like cancer and alcoholism.

Do you know of a reputable writing contest?  Share it with us!


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