The Surrey International Writers' Conference has taken place every autumn in Surrey, British Columbia since 1993. It's an amazing conference--but I would say that, since it's the only writers conference I've ever been to, however I've had a brilliant time both times I attended.
I've been submitting stories to the SIWC writing contest in the Writing for Young People category since its debut in 2006, and I just pushed the "send" button on this year's entry (which I won't name here, so I can protect the integrity of the blind judging).
I was hesitant to enter writing contests when I first started off, thinking they were probably a waste of my time and wanting to focus on my larger works.
But, eventually I decided to draft a shorter piece for a contest, and that decision was an important one for me. There's nothing like knowing someone is reading your work, and there's nothing quite as validating as receiving recognition for it. It really boosted my energy about my writing, and that little deadline helped me maintain some momentum in the long-game of novel writing.
I know the "higher mind" would have us believe that the simple act of writing and improving should be enough, and I'm sure that for many it is. For them, writing, in and of itself, is the point.
But I'm not convinced that, for people vying to get published, we can ever fully convince ourselves that "writing for ourselves" is really what it's all about.
At least this is true in my case.
So, if you want to give contest writing a try, I encourage you to click around and consider your options.
If you are of school age (K-12) here's a wonderful collection of writing contests and scholarship opportunities -- New Pages Contests.
Or, if you're somewhat past those school days, you can check out Luke Pearl's "Be a Better Writer" website and the excellent list of current writing contests he maintains.
Good luck and happy writing!
If you've already written for contests, please share your experiences in the comments.