Personally, I'm in bad need of inspiration these days. While the editing I'm doing for DMS (recently changed their name to Demand Media Studios) isn't exactly enlightening, watching those dollars roll in twice-a-week is addictive. However, I found a competition that's right up my alley--the WritersWeekly 24-Hour Short Story Contest.
I've always been my most productive, not to mention my most creative, in workshops or online classes where I've been given an assignment and required to produce something in a short period of time. Usually it's about a week, but at Kenyon it was overnight. Sure, those stories have flaws, that's expected when writing fiction under a short deadline. Maybe that's exactly what makes it easier for me.
The 24-hour contest is just what it sounds. You sign up to get an email notice at the hour the contest begins--yes that's hour, not day--and you have 24 hours to write and email in your story based on the prompt and word count posted on the website. You are limited to one submission and sending it once in the body of the email. So, in addition to creative considerations, there are technical ones as well, like making sure your submission doesn't show up as a bunch of unreadable hieroglyphics.
The fee is $5.00 with a chance to win $300, $250 or $200 for first, second, and third prize respectively. In addition winners receive WR's Freelance Income Kit and publication on the site. Twenty Honorable Mentions receive a year's subscription to The Write Market Report and an eBook of their choice.
The contest runs four times per year. As I see it, that adds up to four chances to win for what it would cost for one entry to many other literary competitions.
But for me, really, winning isn't the thing. I found the challenge exhilarating, but unlike other situations where I've written on the fly, theres a chance, outside, true, but a chance of winning a nice sum. If that unlikely event does not occur then I have, as with pieces I've written on assignment for workshops and classes, a good start that I can polish and expand.
For me, that's a win, no matter how you look at it.