Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Contest Corner - Five Facts about Writing Contests

Most of you probably know by now that, for many reasons, I love writing contests. I realize not everyone agrees with me, and that's OK. But because I have entered many writing contests in the past few years, I've figured out a few facts that I'd like to share with you . So I give you five facts about writing contests.

1. The best things in writing aren't always free.
I've heard people complain about writing contests that aren't free. Hey, free contests are great, but they also tend to be sponsored by huge publications that have huge prize budgets or wealthy donors. And that equals huge competition for you. Yes, someone has to win and it could be you. You have nothing to lose, so definitely go for it!

More often, however, you'll find paying contests. Sometimes the fees go towards the prize kitty. But more often, the the money goes towards the organization's administrative costs. Many people do not realize the time, expenses, and manpower required to run a website. Not to mention to organize and manage a writing contest.

2. Writing contests keep the creative juices flowing. Particularly contests based around a topic, phrase, or word. Let's face it. Sometimes writers could use a little help in the inspiration department. And contests are a great way to give us that nudge we need.

3. Growth Guaranteed. IF you take constructive criticism well, of course. Entering contests allows us to get our work read and often critiqued by industry pros or published writers. In other words, people who know what they're talking about. The feedback alone is well worth any conference fee (see #1). And if you take that feedback and actually apply it to your writing, you will emerge a better writer. Guaranteed.

4. You could get noticed. As mentioned above, many contests consist of a judging panel of agents and editors, which means there is the possibility that they will like your work enough to request seeing more of it. Which puts you one step closer to that contract.

5. Beware of BHS (Big Head Syndrome). Okay, so you've been entering contests for a while now and you've been finaling, or even winning. This may cause your ego to make a grand appearance. But remember that verse in Proverbs about pride coming before a fall? I suggest not getting to the point where wearing a padded suit is required. Try to maintain a humble spirit. Yes, it's fun to win but keep in mind the reasons you write. If you're a Christian, hopefully it's to glorify God - not yourself.

So what are your thoughts on writing contests? Are you for or against them? And why?

Oh - and speaking of writing contests, the ACFW Genesis contest just opened for submissions. Click HERE for more information.


Karen Lange said...

Good post! Off to find a contest to enter...

Joanne Sher said...

I was reading the Genesis rules/FAQ yesterday, and I TOTALLY have the fever!! SOOOOOOO wanna enter - but I haven't written word one of my Biblical fiction (plenty of characterization and plotting stuff, but still). Better get busy (and, by the way, this will be the first novel-length contest I've entered besides Page Turner - hoping to find TONS more!)

Lynda Schab said...

Go for it, Jo! The feedback is so worth it. You'll do great!

Anonymous said...

Hey Lynda! Yea, the money thing puts me off, but I'm at least hoping to get back into writing for the Faithwriters challenge more regularly again. Some wonderful person sponsored me for the year. :)

Hahahaha, "freak" is my word verification word.