I'm finding that the writing contests one needs to submit to are all due in the Spring. The last few weeks have been a mad dash to finish up countless stories everywhere. Well at least in my part of the world. Some of the lessons I'm learning from submitting to the contests are~
1. Invaluable objective feedback from other writers/readers. If you can't grab their interest, how is your novel going to sell?
2. Acquiring skills to meet a deadline. I remember someone asking me a few years back if I perform better with or without a deadline. Definitely with.
3. Receiving and applying constructive criticism. Do you use every critical thing said about your writing? Personally, I don't think so. But, if a judge is applying a rule of grammar or giving you a great writing tip than why not?
4. Subjective criticism. First it's an art to know if a comment is subjective or not. When I'm giving a negative feedback, I like to back it up with a way of making the writing better. That's one solid way to decide if you should use advice or not. Another great way to decide is by asking yourself if you have heard the same advice before. No one wants to take your voice or steal your story. Most people just want to help.
Last year I entered the Genesis Contest after revising the chapters innumerable times. I also used the skill of a professional editor to make it even better. I truly believe that just like it takes a village to raise a child, It takes a community to produce valuable work.
I hope my fellow Suspense Novelistas don't mind me sharing our group Meme! How cute are these girls? Honestly, I don't know where I'd be without them as well as another suspense crit group I'm in with ACFW. This meme pretty much shows the humor and love we have for each other. BTW, Tampon-ade is our way of spelling Tapenade~Provençal paste or dip, made from black olives, capers, and anchovies. This is how we do it... Doesn't that say it all? :-) Love these ladies! Honestly, there are so many people who have helped me on this journey there is not enough time or space to mention you all. To all and you know who you are ~ a great big thank you!!
I also realize that one of the reasons my current novel semi-finaled in last year's Genesis Contest is because of all the help I have received from my wonderful crit partners. Kudos to the writing community!
Anyway, whether you are just beginning or somewhere in the middle, or are well on your way to publishing your umpteenth novel, I think writing contests are a great way to hone your craft and add credit to your resume.
Let me know if you have any questions or if I can help you enter one of these contests.
Happy Submissions and much success on your writing endeavors. :-D Oops, gotta run!