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Two members of ninevoices entered – but failed to win – the same writing competition during the course of February (names/details redacted to save their blushes). HOWEVER, one of them succeeded in being shortlisted, while the other was longlisted. Surely the equivalent of being awarded a silver and a bronze medal at the Olympics?

The point we are trying to make is that engaging with a writing competition offers advantages in addition to a possible prize cheque. It concentrates the mind, pushes you to either compose something new or to polish a piece of work that has been languishing on your hard drive. If your entry is either longlisted or shortlisted, it proves you stand above the crowd. Perhaps most importantly, it exercises your writing muscle.

Bridgend Writers’ Circle Open Short Story Competition for stories between 1,500 and 1,8700 words. Prizes: £100, £50, £30, plus publication on website. Entry fee: £5 for one, £7.50 for two. Closing date 1 March. TODAY. Details http://www.bridgendwriters.org

BBC National Short Story Award, up to 8,000 words. Prizes: £15,000, 4x£600. FREE ENTRY. Closing Date: 9am on 15 March. Details http://www.bbc.co.uk/nssa

Hastings Literary Festival Writing Competition for short stories up to 2,500 words; short stories by BAME writers up to 5,000 words; poems, up to 40 lines; and flash fiction, up to 500 words. Prizes: £200, £100, £50 in each category; mentoring for best Sussex entry. Closing date: THIS COMPETITION APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN CANCELLED, BUT THEIR TWITTER WEBSITE DOES HAVE A VIDEO SAYING THEY HOPE TO GO AHEAD WITH 2021 FESTIVAL. BEST THEREFORE TO KEEP CHECKING FOR NEWS. Details: http://www.HastingsLitFest.org

White Review Short Story Competition for stories between 2,000-7,000 words, “by emerging writers”. Prizes: £2,500. Entry Fee: £15. Closing date: changed from 4 March to 26 April. Details: http://www.thewhitereview.org

Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize for published and unpublished (at least 50,000 word) adventure novels. Prizes: £15,000. FREE ENTRY. Deadline 7 March. Details: http://www.wilbur-niso-smithfundation.org

Harpers Bazaar Short Story Competition. Stories on the theme of “Threads”, up to 2,200 words. Prize: publication, plus a weekend break at The Mitre, Hampton Court. Entry appears to be FREE. Deadline: 15 March. Details: shortstory@harpersbazaar.co.uk

Fowey Festival Short Story Competition, for stories not exceeding 1,500 words. With Daphne du Maurier’s popular collection of short stories in mind, the title of the competition is “Breaking Point”. Apparently when Daphne du Maurier was writing the collection – entitled “Breaking Point” – she “found solace and peace after a turbulent period”. A timely thought. Prizes: £200 and £100. Entry fee: £10, which goes towards supporting the future of the Festival. Deadline: 7 March. Details: ww.foweyfestival.com

Evesham Festival of Words are seeking short stories of up to 2,500 words on any theme. Prizes: £100, £50, %30, plus an engraved trophy for the winner. Entry fee: £5. Closing date: 12 March. Details: http://eveshamfestivalofwords.org

Short Fiction/University of Essex International Short Story Competition, for stories up to 5,000 words. Prizes: £500, plus publication; £250; £100. Entry fee: £9. Deadline: 31 March. Details http://www.shortfictionjournal.co.uk

Writers Bureau Annual Short Story Competition for stories up to 2,000 words. Prizes: £300; £200; £100 £50, plus a choice of Writers Bureau courses. Entry fee: £5. Closing date: 31 March. Details: http://www.wbcompetition.com

We live in confusing times, so do PLEASE check all details before entering any of the above. Good luck with those entries!