Judgement Day

Never fear – I’ve not turned religious. Today is, for some, another day for self-doubt. Today is the day we see our scores from the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart contest. This was my first entry and like a lot of other writers I found myself caught up in the hype, secretly hoping to final and then crushed when I didn’t. Honestly, I hadn’t thought I cared until that wretched website failed to show my name a month ago. LOL

The crushing part didn’t last long – I had other more fun things to do like chat with a great bunch of romance readers. But looking at my scores today, I wish I had a decent distraction. They are – in a few words – ridiculous scores. One judge marked the story perfect, two loathed it, the rest were scattered in between. All I can say for the experience is that I invested in the struggling American economy. LOL. There’s very little to learn from a Golden Heart score.

However, there is a lot to be learned by how people react to the contests. Some proudly proclaim to be a contest ho, entering everything that comes up, and comparing scores and whether the judges had PMT when they marked it. Other’s slink away quietly and consider abandoning the concept of writing altogether. Either way the stress involved in entering contests makes me wonder about their worth.

I write full-time from home and, since I am my own task master, it’s up to me to keep my motivation up. Some days are blissful and the words flow, other days (like chocolate induced headache days) I wake knowing I’ll never manage much more than a few tweets and maybe a blog post. But if I was entering every contest that I could self-motivation might become an issue. So if your the kind of extreme writer who lives life on the edge, entering every contest that opens up, I want you to consider three things:

1. Enter the contest that can give you something in return. Feedback, access to an editor or agent thats a good fit for you, prize money, exposure. Choose the contest that can give you the best value for money. For instance, if you don’t have a large pool of writing partners then investigate the contest’s feedback sheets. You’ll often find them buried in the contest website and they can give you an idea of what sort of feedback you could expect.

2. Contest judges are sometimes biased – they can score based on personal preference. Believe me – I’ve heard some shocker stories in the last year. However, the best contest comments I’ve recieved were from a mid to low scoring judges. Take a peek at their comments and then think about them a while before you jump in and make changes.

3. If you fail, if you score badly, do not give up or quit! For one – it takes time to learn all you need to be a writer, and although I’m no Nora Roberts I think writers develop skills every day they write. Second, if you’re the extreme writer who reacts in an extreme way, you’ll feel rather silly when a good opportunity comes your way later. Don’t burn bridges. People remember.

Now that I have my first and only contest rant off my shoulders, my head is starting to pound again. Be well (at least better than me) and happy and I’ll catch you later.

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One Response to Judgement Day

  1. Catherine Gayle April 27, 2011 at 12:18 am #

    Great advice on the contest front, Heather. I've debated entering some contests, but I've decided they aren't the best use for my money. Days like yesterday, when those dreaded scores come out, make me glad I didn't toss my money at something that *might* turn out well, but probably will only end me up with a headache.




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