And how many of you are set to gag at the thought of entering one. more. contest.
With many and varied options available to writers for getting their work in front of a contest judge and hopefully that last round of editors and agents, it can be hard to determine whether to enter and which ONES to enter. Contest hopping isn't cheap.
So many writers live and die by the contests they enter. Knowing someday that golden contest is going to strike the clock right at midnight and the goose will lay the golden egg. The Midas contest touch. And while contests are wonderful to enter and glean from, if you do enter, you must enter with a level of understanding firmly in place.
I have entered only a handful of contests in my writing life, but within those handful I've had a wiiidddeee range of info returned.
One contest told me I needed to invest in writing books and I couldn't write my way out of wet paper bag (my words, not the judge's).
Another contest, I was one of six finalists.
Not in the same year.
But do you see how crazy the contest world is!?!? It's definitely not for the faint of heart. And some contests give great feedback, others just write a little number down on the line. And if the judge woke up with indigestion that morning, you might not get a good score.
Contests are subjective. Incredibly subjective.
I don't say this to say you shouldn't enter contests, however I don't think contests are the answer to all of a writer's prayers.
Writing classes and books all can help improve your craft without the emotional headache. (most of the time. ;-)
When you do enter contests, consider several things. Who reads this entry? You won't know beginning level judges-- you will know final round judges. Always go into a contest assuming you WON'T final or win. It'll be easier (or more joyful!) when you do/don't. But do take into consideration who those final judges are and would they be beneficial to your writing?
Don't enter just any contest. Smaller contests tend to give more feedback...but you have to look at the cost and whether or not they are with a reputable group. Asking other writers of their experience with that group is a great place to start.
Do a bit of research into the contests. Don't just enter any contest that lands on your doorstep. You'll be exhausted and so will your wallet.
Don't let a bundle of negatives overwhelm or discourage you. Take this as a cue that your writing needs a bit more work, and be willing to make the necessary changes.
On a personal note, I happen to be entering the Genesis and Frasier contests this year. Both contests are respected and known for their ability to discern high quality writing. However, in this case: the Genesis generally does not give much feedback. The Frasier is geared to help writers grow. I've decided this year that my writing has reached a level where I want to know how I might do in the Genesis. I enter that one to see if I've grown in my writing. I enter the Frasier to learn.
You of course will have to make that decision for yourself and your writing. Hopefully these few does and don't's give you an idea of what to gear for.
Are you entering any contests this year?