This week: From Start to Submit: Finish Your Entry! Edited by: Jayne
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|Hi, I’m Jayne, your guest editor for this week’s Contests & Activities newsletter. Let’s delve into practical strategies for maintaining your motivation and keeping the creative juices flowing as an amateur author. Whether you're entering a WdC contest for fun or to sharpen your skills, enjoying your creative journey will help you cross that finish line with a piece you're proud of. |
|Participating in WdC’s writing contests is an excellent way for authors to hone their skills, gain visibility, and even win prizes. However, maintaining your drive from the start of the contest to the submission deadline can be a challenging feat. So how do you keep your motivation high and ensure you cross that finish line with a polished entry? Here are some tips to keep you on track.|
Set Achievable Milestones
If your enthusiasm typically wanes mid-way through the contest, try establishing a clear writing schedule with achievable milestones. Instead of looking at the whole task of your short story or poem, break it down into smaller, manageable parts. For instance, if you're writing a 2,000-word short story, aim to write 300-400 words daily, allowing room for edits and revisions later on. When longer form contests pop up, shifting your goal to 500-600 words a day will be much easier if you’re already used to habitual practice.
It can also be beneficial to use a dedicated calendar or writing app to remind you of your daily or weekly goals. Crossing off these milestones can provide a sense of accomplishment that fuels your motivation to keep going.
Find Your Collective
While writing is often a solitary act, the WdC community can be a great motivator. Sharing your progress, struggles, and triumphs can make the process far more enjoyable and less daunting. You can ask for advice, share your own wisdom, and even swap drafts for constructive criticism.
I understand the pushback here is “but reviews are hard to come by”. While I strongly encourage traditional reviews, sometimes simply having a friend to bounce ideas off of or give you some quick feedback can help you clean up your copy.
The point is, don't go it alone; a shared experience is often more enriching and motivating than a solitary one.
Remember, too, that feedback is a two-way street. Swapping your thoughts with someone who also needs a set of fresh eyes can help attract those willing to look over your work. And hey, exchanging feedback with someone entering the same contest as you isn’t some forbidden fruit. While we all like to win, don’t lose sight of the community WdC has to offer, and what you can learn from helping others out.
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize, but Enjoy the Journey
Yes, winning a contest comes with its perks—recognition, gift points, merit badges, awardicons, and the satisfaction of a job well done. But if you make the prize the only focus, you may find yourself stressed and less motivated to create your best work. Instead, focus on the skills you’re building—improving your writing, experimenting with new ideas, and even overcoming writer's block.
This attitude doesn't mean you shouldn't aim to win. It means enjoying the process itself. At the same time, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re entitled to win. Doing so may lead to discouragement, indifference, or procrastination. A “why bother” attitude is the antithesis of improving, no matter where you are in your writing journey. The skills you pick up, the feedback you receive, and even the self-discipline you develop are valuable takeaways that will last far longer than any contest.
|Here's some contest for you to try your hand at:|
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