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Writing competitions–yes or no?

Is it just me, or does there seem to be a spate of writing contest deadline extensions lately?

I got a message from Writers Digest today saying their big Annual Writing Competition deadline is extended. I’ve been following that contest for years (I entered it myself in 2000) and I can’t recall ever seeing the deadline extended.

My question is–why this trend? (I guess the first question should be–is this a trend? But we’ll skip that one).

First assumption–contests extend deadlines because they aren’t getting enough entries. If that’s true and assuming I’m right about a trend of lots of contests extending deadlines–then contest entries must be down.

I don’t think there are fewer aspiring writers these days. So what is happening?

  1. A proliferation of contests causing writers to be more selective with their contest entry time and money.
  2. Economic downturn causing writers to enter fewer contests.
  3. A general sense of hopelessness causing writers to ask, “why bother?”
  4. More aspiring writers avoiding the contest route by choosing to self-publish.
I have no answers here. Just observations. I have a fondness for contests because it was a contest win that led to the publication of my first book. I also think contests that provide feedback can be helpful to new authors.
What do you think? Do the deadline extensions mean anything? Have you entered a writing contest lately? Do you plan to enter any contests? Do you think contests are a total waste of time?

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