It’s that time of year when you’ve poured your heart and soul into writing your novel and hit send on contest entries. And you wait. And you stalk the twitter feed. And you think ‘What am I gonna do if I don’t get in?’
You know the truth of the matter is, a very small percentage of writers, actually ‘get in’.
So how can you survive the contest trenches?
Well first, stop letting a contest define you as a writer. Write because it’s in you and you have to. Notice how I didn’t say stop entering contests. Enter that contest, feel the thrills and anticipation. But afterwards, if you don’t get in. Keep writing.
News flash contest warriors: there are many ways to be a writer. Maybe you’re not ready to dive into writing a shiny, new MS but here’s a few ways to keep flexing your writing muscle.
- Try writing a short story. There’s no better way to push yourself to develop well-rounded characters than to try and do it in 5000 words. Ditto for setting, conflict and dialogue. Who knows, that short story might just be the launching pad to your next novel.
- Write poetry. I’ve said this before, but writing poetry forces you to measure the weight of each word. If you’re new to both of the above, there are plenty of writer’s forums you can join where you submit and gain feedback in a friendly, supportive community. No one’s judging – just write for the fun of it.
- Sign up for a writing workshop. Choose an area you feel you could use some assistance with, and take a course. You’ll meet other writers and learn a lot too. If you can’t find a writing workshop in your community to attend, you won’t have far to look to find one online. I found Poetic Asides on Writer’s Digest and take the April Poem a Day challenge and join in the weekly prompts – just for fun. See, there’s that word again. Remember why you thought writing was FUN!
- If you don’t already have critique partners or beta readers and you’ve been hanging out on the sidelines of this fabulous writing community on-line – get out there and find some. You’ll get insights into your writing, plus reading other people’s work will be sure to inspire you.
Here’s to surviving contests. I hope you keep on writing!