Over the course of the past few months, I’ve gotten the results of quite a few contests entered. While I did not final in any of them, each contest was an interesting experience. But, I’m beginning to question how many more of these contests I want to enter. (For the purpose of this post I’m talking about RWA Chapter contests with specific feedback forms).
The first contest I entered I did kind of on a whim, but I had amazing feedback. Though I didn’t final, I was pretty close in terms of scores and each judge was very helpful in outlining both the positives and negatives of my entry. So, I decided that these contests were a great way to get feedback and entered quite a few more.
As those quite a few more have announced their finalists and those little score sheets have popped up in my inbox, I have begun to realize that not all judges can offer the same kind of feedback. Whether it’s because they are afraid to give criticism or simply don’t know how or some other reason, many of the comments I received on the last couple contests were completely unhelpful. Your story is great is fine and dandy if you want to give me a perfect score, but if not I want to know why not. It left me feeling a little sorry I plunked over the cash. Money is tight, and every cent I spend on myself as a writer is a sacrifice I have to make in my daily life–which is fine, if I feel I’m getting something out of it.
The frustrating thing about writing is that sometimes you don’t know you’re doing it wrong until someone tells you or shows you. I’m lucky to have a great CP, and lucky to have feedback with some of my rejections, (both of which were FREE) but it’s never enough… because I always want to be better.
I don’t want to sit here and single out and bash any of the contests I’ve entered, but as these contests happen again next year I’ll make sure to promote the ones that were helpful to me.
2 thoughts on “On Contests”
I’ve heard this from others too and that’s why I decided not to enter them (at least for the moment). Like you, money is a little tight and I’d rather spend my pennies on workshops/courses where you can often submit homework that will be commented on (and in a nice way =) ). Although, to be fair to the good ol’ comps, it’s not the same as having whole chapters or a full manuscript evaluated. It’s all about the pros and cons and how you learn best =)
I guess it’s kind of like rolling the dice… you don’t know what the outcome is going to be, and then you have to decide if that outcome works for you. Every writing journey is different!