Lipstick & Danger

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Every month when I anxiously return home with the latest edition of The Writer or Writer’s Digest I can’t resist thumbing to the back pages where the latest contests are listed. I read each one as if it will lead me to the Holy Grail. Sometimes entries are cost free and other times there might be up to a $25 charge. Ink pen in hand I circle the ones that look like a good fit for me. Then there are the local writing groups that offer contests for their particular genre. Conferences also lure me in to participating in categories that push my writing style to the limits. I call these contests Ink Chocolate. I can’t resist them. 

So why do them? How about the cost? And dare I forget, how about the rejection? When I started on this writing journey I attended conferences right and left. Every time I left inspired and motivated to write the next Gone with the Wind.  But the cost started adding up. No one knew me and no one cared. Then I read an article about how to enter contests for the biggest bang for your buck. 

When you go to a conference and listen to all the amazing writers who are successful and actually making a little money it’s easy to get sucked into thinking tomorrow it’s your turn. It’s hard to imagine that they have had to pay their “writing dues” to get to that “happy place”.  I realized with the money I spent on going to a big city conference, including the travel, hotel and travel expenses I was out a chunk of change. I decided to enter as many contests as possible in the next year without attending a long distance conference. 

The advantages of entering contests are as follows:
1. You get judges that are in the business. Agents, publishers writing coaches, etc. are usually involved in looking over your work. Essentially you have a captive audience.

2. It’s cheaper. Enough said.

3. You can enter the same essay or story over and over without leaving home.

4.  It makes you a better writer. Knowing you have to shine helps with the polish.

5.  Gives you confidence. Although I’ve yet to win anything substantial I believe in myself. I’m just waiting for others to take the blinders off. I keep writing because I think of myself as a writer. Several years ago that wasn’t the case.

6.  Contests also make me write in different styles. It’s like trying a new sport. If you aren’t any good at it you can always go back to playing what makes you comfortable. Kickboxing vs. horseshoes. 

7. No one knows you! If you didn’t win the Tony Hillerman contest Carla from your writing group will be totally clueless to the fact. 

I’m sure there are many reasons why you should give contests a try. You’re thinking of one right now! Go ahead. Enter.  

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