I have a number of goals I’ve set for this year, most of which I haven’t shared because research shows that when you share your goals with the general population, you’re actually LESS likely to achieve them. This is due to a perceived accomplishment effect – by sharing, you feel like you’ve already accomplished something. So, because of that, I haven’t shared my goals.
Now that I’ve reached one, I’m going to share what it was and what I did.
One of my goals for this year was to enter 3 contests throughout the year. I managed to accomplish it within the first 5 weeks of the year, so unexpected, but that’s okay.
The first contest I entered was the Missouri Writers Guild Fall Fiction contest. All I had to do was submit the first chapter of my fantasy novel, which I submitted as it was. Certainly not the best first chapter they’ll receive, but it was the best I could do at the time with the tools I had.
The second contest I entered was the Chicago Tribune Nelson Algren Literary Contest. I entered a heavily edited and revised version of my favorite story I’ve ever written. I had tons of help from the wonderful people in Authors’ Tale, my online writing community, and together, we edited the CRAP out of that story and made it the best I could make it at that time with the tools I had. I’m sure I could do better now, but that’s here nor there.
Finally, over the holidays, I won an entry into the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge. This was quite intimidating, to be honest, as the genre, subject, and character are all assigned. I haven’t written in many of the genres they could have assigned, but by some stroke of luck, I was assigned suspense and I’d dabbled in it a few months back for a story I wanted to submit to a different contest. In the end, I still felt that the story wasn’t strong enough, so I didn’t submit, but what I learned was INVALUABLE to my success in writing the story I ultimately entered. Once again, my fellow writers came to my aid for critiques and I sent off, once again, the absolute best story I could have possibly written.
All that said, I’ve learned a TON in the past month about writing and making stories better and passive voice and on and on. I see things now that I would never have seen before. It was very stressful. Many times I felt entirely ill-equipped to write or compete and several times I simply wanted to throw in the towel and quit. I didn’t think that I could push through and finish it, but in the end, I did.
I’m happy that one item is crossed off my list, but next time, I’ll be sure to space out my competitions a little more. These require an insane amount of work, critiquing, editing, more critiquing, and on and on. I spent HOURS on these stories, changing, tweaking, reading again. And the one more time. And then just one more time after that.
I hope to participate in more contests later in the year, but for now, I’m happy to settle back for a few days, work on the projects I have right in front of me, and practice writing in different genres just in case I move forward in the NYC Midnight contest. I figure it’s better to try and screw it up now than to be assigned a completely unfamiliar genre and have 3 days to figure it out (or even 24 hours!) and write a great story.
I’m also still plugging away on my novel, which has been completely ignored while I worked feverishly on my short stories.
Did you set any goals in 2018? Are you making satisfactory progress on them or it is time to maybe tweak your game plan a bit?