Challenges and contests

Participating in writing challenges and contests is something most established writers frown upon, but to the fledgling like myself it can serve an important purpose. In my case, it helps me to keep a consistent writing schedule amidst the various other present tasks trying to capture my attention. It also helps me finish what I’ve started. Writing a first or second draft is easy, but polishing what I’ve done in to a piece worth of submission is not. For me these small challenges and contests give me a clear, public goal to aim for. I cannot rely on these gimicks forever, I know, but for the short-term they serve a useful purpose.

All that said, on to the challenges. I have three laid out before me this year. I’ve mentioned Van Helsing already. WindyCon has brought back their annual writing contest, and I intend to submit my current WIP. The submission deadline is August 31st, but I’m going to try getting it polished up before that, hopefully with enough time to submit it to group and get some valuable feedback.

Finally, this November brings us National Novel Writing Month. I participated last year but didn’t finish, having written myself into a corner. This year I plan on doing it again, but I’m going to be more prepared. I’ve spent some time thinking about my novel, and by the time the contest begins I’ll have a fairly solid outline finished. Last time I ran out of story far short of my goal and I don’t intend for that to happen again. I’m not going to delude myself. Pumping out a novel-length piece in month isn’t going to produce a high quality draft. It will, however, give me a solid starting point for what could end up as months of rewrites and revisions.

The common theme throughout all of this is simple: keep writing. I’ve been feeling very stretched of late, trying to maintain the delicate balance between home, work, side-work, and writing. It hasn’t helped that summer is here or that the seasonal depression that has visited me the past few years has shed its winter coat and decided to sample the warmer climate. Once I get past these hurdles I feel like I’ll be well on my way to where I want to be.

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