Contests scare me.
I'm determined to improve my skill and scope. So I challenged myself by entering a contest.
I chose to enter contests without an entry fee, because this is my first experience in any type of writing contest. I approached it as a learning opportunity and not a monetary investment.
I still needed to figure out what to enter and if I had the right material ready before any deadlines.
Find free contests. (Oprah isn't giving things away anymore? Bummer).
Thanks to Twitter, Facebook, and friends I heard of two similar contests within the entry window.
PitchSlam and Nest pitch. Both of those contests are based on a 35 word pitch, or tight summary of the novel, and the first 250-300 words of your novel.
REFINE REFINE REFINE
I formed a group to tackle this one and invited anyone also involved in the contest I was going to enter to join in order to refine our entries as a group. We posted our original Pitch and 250. The group commented on things that worked (positives) and things that didn't (constructive). Then we revised based on feedback. We posted revisions and commented again. There were many impressive entries in our group. I filled expected over half our group to be chosen as finalists for PitchSlam, the contest with the first announced results. Two out of our 18 active members were picked. No I was not one of them.
The first contest provided me with feedback that I needed to improve my work in ways I had not known.
I applied the information I was given to my novel, pitch, and first words.
(Nestpitch contest's submission window actually closed before I received feedback, but I applied changes to my own work anyway--hoping the selection committees/teams would see potential in my story with what they had on hand)
I was selected in the Nestpitch contest!
The last three weeks have been working with my contest team to refine my entry for the final round. That round begins in two days from the time I'm writing this post.
I'd love to say I obtained an agent from entering my first ever contest, but that is not what this post is about (and I have no idea what the final results will be yet). It is about conquering my fear of entering contests, which is not related to results.
In a short window of time I have gained not only the stamina to lose, and the determination to continue with my personal goal, but also the confidence to be selected.
These lessons are essential for me in my continued growth as a writer. Pushing myself to the next level.