Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Top 10 Ideas for Beating the Contest Blues, Part I

Photo by Kalexanderson
Contest results are coming in and many writers are now drowning in the depths of despair. They open their email only to find their name is not on the list of finalists. They didn't make it. They are not good enough. And then they open up the feedback on their contest submission.

What? One judge gave them a 95 and one judge gave them a 68? How in the world does that happen?

REMEMBER THIS: Judging stories is subjective! You may have a judge who has had a bad day. Or you may get a judge who really likes historical, but got stuck judging contemporary. Yeah, it happens.

So what's a person to do when they get these crazy, downer scores? Well, Casey and I are putting our heads together and have come up with a TOP TEN list of things to encourage you during the Contest Blues. (I have to admit...some of mine are a wee bit silly!)

#10  Go to your room and SCREAM and CRY and throw pillows at the wall. Okay, so you don't really have to scream, but go ahead and boo-hoo some. You have to get this out of the way, because face it, getting bummer scores hurts. You have to let out the hurt and the anger before you can move forward. So get it all out and then breathe in deep. Now you are ready for number 9.

#9  Get on Facebook or Twitter and give a shout out to the winners or finalists of the contest you didn't win/final. Yes, you can do it. Be a gracious non-winner (I refuse to say loser, because anyone who is brave enough to share their work in a contest is a HUGE winner!) and cheer others on! This is an excellent way to be like Christ and encourage others.

#8  Go to Barnes and Noble and purchase a couple of books you have been wanting to read, but haven't because you've been too busy writing. Splurge! Then hunker down on the couch or in bed, and read to your heart's content!

#7  Pity Party Time! Okay, so maybe leave off the PITY part. But seriously, gather a friend...or two, or three, or four...and go out to eat. See a movie. Have a slumber party. Go dance in a chair...oh wait...Casey may be using that idea!!!! (snicker) Get out and have some fun!

#6  Study up on a writing craft book. Grab a highlighter and glean writing nuggets to strengthen your writing. If you have gotten feedback from your contest judges, all saying you need to focus on character development, then study up on that. If dialogue was scored low, then find a good source to teach you how to do it right. There are so many tools out there to help you become the writer God has gifted you to be!


This is the end of Part I of Top Ten Ideas for Beating the Contest Blues. Casey will pick up on Friday with Part II, so don't miss out!

Have you ever experienced the Contest Blues? How have you coped?

This post is brought to you by
 Sherrinda Ketchersid

Sherrinda is wife to "Pastor John" and mother to three giant sons and one gorgeous daughter. A born and bred Texan, she writes historical romance filled with fun, faith, and forever love.


Jeanne T said...

Fun post, Sherrinda. Contest blues....so humbling, and yet good for challenging me to grow as a writer. I sure hope chocolate is somewhere on your list, because that's an essential in my book for dealing with the contest blues. :)

Julia M. Reffner said...


You are a GREAT encourager!! I've never had the contest blues, but mainly because I've never actually entered. But what helps me with writing blues is writing something fun and different for a few days. Something just for you, for me I write silly poetry that goes nowhere but helps me bring back the fun in writing.

Mary Vee Writer said...

I agree Jeanne T. chocolate is essential. Hugs, nature trips, stupid chic flicks help too, can't be the good ones, it needs to be something so ridiculous you find your laugh.
thanks Sherrinda

Lindsay Harrel said...

Hmmm...fairly certain I did all of these when I first got my Genesis results back. :)

Well, I didn't dance on a chair, but we can't all be Casey. ;)

Beth K. Vogt said...

You know, it's OK to talk back to judges, right?
Not to their faces, of course.
Not via email.
And never, ever, ever via your FB page or Twitter stream.
But go ahead and work it out in the privacy of your home. The judges told you what they that of your writing -- tell 'em what you thought of their feedback.
Thank them for the positives:
"Oh, I loved that part too! Thank you so, so much!"
And then tell 'em what you thought of their low scores:
"What, you can't count higher than three?"
Just have fun with it.
You're letting off steam ...
And sometimes it helps to talk it out.

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Jeanne, I soooo wanted to put chocolate in the list, but for me, I would put it at number 1. I thought I would let Casey take the chocolate on Friday! Glad to see you have survived through some contest blues. :)

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Julia, I did not know you wrote poetry! I would LOVE to read some of your stuff...but I just want to say that I am no good at understanding poetry. I know I love some it and then sometime I think...not so much. :) I'm sure your's is AWESOME!

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Mary!!!!! Chic Flicks!!!!!!!! Of course! I love doing that and do it all the time...even without having the blues. ;)

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Mary!!!!! Chic Flicks!!!!!!!! Of course! I love doing that and do it all the time...even without having the blues. ;)

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Lindsay, but don't you want to be like Casey and feel FREE to dance in a chair? I think I may go home, close the door, turn up some fun music and dance in a chair. HA!

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Beth, I love it! A running conversation with your judges...behind closed doors! lol...I would love to be a fly on the wall when you do!

Ruth Douthitt said...

That's why I don't enter writing contests!! I did once...ONCE.

I suppose if I got with a publisher who wanted to enter my MS, then I would agree to it.

But it sounds like torture! Who needs that??

Susan Anne Mason said...

Great advice! I especially like the congratulate others part. I've decided it is possible to be really happy for others, and really sad for yourself at the same time. LOL.

Still sifting through comments and trying to decide which way to go. And waiting for feedback from the Frasier which I hope will clarify some things for me. Sigh.

Just when you think you've got it figured out... WHAM!

Oh, the life of a writer!!


Ava Walker Jenkins said...

Great ideas. I just got my first scores and comments back and had to do a double take on some. I read them to my husband and mom and together we decided which ones were valid and which ones were written by someone in severe PMS mode. LOL!

Gabrielle Meyer said...

Great tips, Sherrinda, I especially loved #1 and #2. It's okay to let those emotions go - holding them in only makes things worse and then go out and congratulate others - it's hard, but it's also healing to be happy for someone else. Do what's right and your feelings will follow your actions.

Pepper said...

Great -and encouraging post, Sherrinda!
And I think most of us have been there at one time or other.
After a good cry, the opportunity to learn through the process makes it worth it (to me).
And encouraging others? Oh yeah, that's a DEFINITE boost for me.

Joanne Sher said...

SUPER post, Sherrinda! I have ALWAYS felt better when I encourage others when I'm down.

Looking forward to Pepper's on Friday :)

Marney McNall said...

For me, the first thing I have to do is expend some physical energy. Take a long nature walk and then, when that's not enough, a hard run on the treadmill with music really really loud.

As I get tired, I pray on the treadmill. Is that weird? For some reason, it seems like some of my most open times with God are on that painful hamster wheel, the treadmill. After that, I can sit down and congratulate others. Then, I read over the judge's comments with more objectivity. Then, back to work!