Win Writing Contests! (Or What I Learned From My Mistakes)
Er...it didn't happen quite that way. In the beginning, I made a lot of mistakes. (But I learned valuable lessons.)
1. One of the very first contests I entered involved a HUGE payoff and a fun prompt. Terrific, right? Only it was a very specific (as in “incorporate these specific characters and this name-brand product into your story”) prompt. I spent hours, HOURS, writing my witty story, and not to brag, but it was pretty darn witty. Imagine my surprise when I did not win. All those hours, and all I had to show for my effort was a story that I could never submit anywhere else. That’s when I learned not to expend too much time writing a story to a limiting prompt.
2. Also among my list of first contests entered was a very literary, la-ti-da contest wherein I sent in a not so literary la-ti-da story. I would have known that my story didn't fit the contest if I’d spent just a little time, researching to get a feel for the contest. I suppose I was too busy researching how I was going to spend my winnings. Anyway, imagine my surprise when I did not win. That’s how I learned not to skip my homework before submitting my entries.
3. And speaking of that literary contest, I paid a hefty entry fee, too. And it was one of those contests like the Highlander: there could be only one. Winner, that is. It just goes to show that possibly, I could’ve used a little humility where my writing talent was concerned, and definitely, I could've used a little lesson in figuring odds. (Just one more reason why one should pay attention during math class.) I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when I did not win that one, solitary prize. But I did learn to pay attention to numbers, whether it was the entry fee, the prizes, or both.
If I’m being perfectly honest, I made more writing contest mistakes than the three I listed. But eventually, after learning a thing or two (or twenty), I spied that email subject line that read “Congratulations!”
Imagine my surprise when I finally won.
(Now that you've learned from my mistakes, you’re ready to try a writing contest! Check out WOW!’s Winter Flash Fiction Contest—an open prompt, twenty prizes, and info about the guest judge provided. Perfect, right?)
~Cathy C. Hall