Yes, Yes, I know that we need feedback and the opportunity to get our work in front of editors and agents, but it takes courage.
I’m not a stunt woman, I’m scared of heights and I can’t even kill a spider, so how do I get the guts to lay my work out there for others to see?
It isn’t easy, that’s for sure. And the days waiting for the results are excruciating. But this is a great opportunity for you to get the kind of feedback you need.
*Submit your best work. You can feel good about hitting send, when you know that you can do more to make your submission better. It can’t be perfect, because no one is perfect. Just your best at that given time in your writing journey should be reflected in your submission.
*Get your work critiqued. Ask your writing buddies to read through your submission and help to make any recommendations. Sometimes we are too close to our manuscript and a fresh set of eyes helps.
*Follow the submission guidelines. You want your work to be noticed for the right reasons, not the glaring lack of correct formatting.
*Trust God with your dream. If God has given you the dream to write, trust that he will give you what you need to grow as a writer. If you are focused on trusting him, instead of yourself, it will bring peace.
How To Interpret The Results:
*Don’t Panic. If the score isn’t what you hoped for, take a deep breath. That doesn’t mean you are a horrible writer, it just means you have a few things to work on. The goal of contests isn’t just to win, it is to get feedback. So if you got feedback, you achieved your goal.
*Cry Today. Edit Tomorrow. If you are discouraged about your feedback, take a day to cry, rail at the sky or eat Ben & Jerry’s. The next day, pull yourself up off the floor and get to work on editing realizing that this will make you a better writer.
*Read and Analyze. The beauty of contests, is that we have multiple judges who score our manuscripts.
~Make a short list of the comments in abbreviated form.
~When more than one judge has the same comment for feedback that is a good indication that you should work on that component.
~Stay true to your voice. Sometimes the feedback you receive is more a reflection of whether the judge liked your voice, so be aware of that as you read.
~Consider the experience level of the judges if that information is available. The more experience, the more credible the feedback.
*Edit the commonalities. Start first by editing the comments that you agree with the most and the ones that have more than one judge with that opinion. These are the strongest threads you could add to your work, since it seemed the most important to the readers.
*Pray over additional changes. Many times judges give feedback that is exactly opposite of each other. When this happens, ask a few critique buddies what they think. Pray over these changes before you make them.
*Post the positive. Take the positive feedback from the contest and write it on a note card, laminate it and put it in a visible place (or make a flip book). If you do this for each contest, when you are feeling low there is something you can look at to draw encouragement.
There are several great writing contests that help us become better writers. Two of my favorites are the Frasier (http://www.mybooktherapy.com/slide-3/contests/) and the Genesis Contest ( http://www.acfw.com/genesis).
What is your favorite writing contest?