With spring and it’s accompanying tidal wave of writing conferences comes the inevitable invitation to enter contests—and finally—the announcement of the winners. For me, this is when the crash comes. For every contest I do well in there are ten where I do poorly. Which ones do I remember—agonize over—the ones I lost, of course.
So how do we weather the storms of contest season? Here are a few tips that I find help me keep my perspective and actually come away wiser and not too discouraged.
- Give Yourself Time to Grieve. It’s normal to feel let down or even angry when we door poorly in a contest. Let those feelings out, find a sympathetic friend, talk about how ignorant the judges are (even when you know they were right!) and cry a few tears
- Put Away the Comments for a Few Days. Give yourself permission for a little breathing room. After you've read through the comments, put the file away and don’t open it again for at least a week. By then the edge will dull and you’ll be able to see what you need without feeling like a total failure.
- Understand that the Writing Business is Subjective. One of the reasons this business is so hard on the emotions is because there is rarely a definitive answer. What one editor loves, another rejects as unusable. The same is true with judging. One judge may praise a clever turn of phrase while another claims it’s outdated and clunky.
- Don’t EVER Measure Your Worth by How you do in Contests. There are lots of ways to measure your progress as a writer—contests are NOT one of them!
Entering a contest is a good way to stretch yourself as a writer and to help build protective calluses. Just know, the crash can come, no matter how well written the manuscript. Keep your perspective and don’t be afraid to take a chance.
Now it’s your turn—how do you cope with disappointing results?
*Special Note: Congratulations to all the 2011 Genesis Semi-Finalists!