How I View Writing Contests and Magazine Submissions

When I first started submitting my stories to contests and magazines, a question bothered me: would the judges praise me for my goddess-like storytelling skills or want to cleanse their eyes after reading my garbage?

My naive mind couldn’t handle being rejected from my first submission. I felt like giving up on writing and didn’t pen anything for months. I eventually realized that my expectations were unrealistic and developed a new mindset. It goes a little like this…

It’s not impossible to win or get accepted, but it’s also not a guarantee.

Why do some writers feel disappointed when they receive a rejection or lose in a writing competition? I think it’s hubris (What do you think?).

The reality is that it’s unlikely your fiction will come out on top if you consider the slew of other writers who submitted along with you. Think about it: if you submit your fiction into an international contest or magazine, your piece will be competing against BILLIONS of other pieces.

This isn’t to say that it’s impossible to win, but it’s most definitely NOT a guarantee!

Don’t be snooty!

Non-paying avenues can be just as beneficial to your writing career as paying ones.

If a free-to-enter, non-paying magazine with a large audience base features your work, guess what? You’re getting exposure on a well-established platform with readers looking for awesome writers. It’s a chance to grow your platform and advance your writing career.

Rejection means not for them. Not “not for the entire world!”

Whether your piece wins a contest or is accepted at a magazine depends on the judges and editors reading it. They’re humans—like you—with unique tastes and they may not like your work. That’s fair. Get over it. Art is subjective and fiction is art. You can’t please everyone.

Rejection doesn’t devalue your writing. It just means you have to keep submitting until you do find those who will like your work (side note: some contest judges and magazine editors will give you a free critique—use it to improve your writing…or not!). You can even use your stories to build your readership on your blog or sell them as a collection.

 

Ever since I adopted this philosophy, I stress less when I submit my stories. It’s not a full-proof plan, but’s it’s something!

Do you have any submission philosophies? Is submitting to contests and magazines beneficial? Let’s chat in the comments below!

Three Ways Students Can Balance Their Writing and Academic Lives

Pursuing an educational goal and keeping up with your creative writing isn’t the most easiest task in the world. School can become so overbearing that it forces us to prioritize it over our creativity. Although this choice may seem responsible at the time, it’s really an avenue towards a more stressful dilemma: unproductively.

In order to keep myself from feeling unproductive, I do the following three things:

 

1. KNOW THY SCHEDULE

In fiction, thieves usually spend a bit of time scoping out a territory before infiltrating it. They discover all the possible entrances, emergency escape routes, and the precise moment the guard jabs his finger into his nose.

Ok, you wont be doing any of that; however, it’s still a good idea to analyze your day-to-day schedule.

You may also want to spend some time (I recommend a week) learning your instructor’s routine:

  • Do they arrive early, late, or on time to class?
  • Do they open the doors early?
  • Do they give breaks midway into their lecture?

Analyze your routine, too:

  • How long does it take you to study? (If you have to, time yourself)
  • What are some of your other responsibilities?
  • When do you have breaks?

 

2. BATTLE PLAN

Now that you have a general idea of your academic week, see if you can squeeze some writing in. Can you…

  • Write during class breaks?
  • Get up really early to write?
  • Take a ten minute homework break to jot down some ideas?

Come up with a monthly wordcount goal and break it down into chunks. Also, see if you can schedule small writing sessions during the day.

 

3. EXECUTE

By following the above steps, your current dilemma may shift from “I don’t have time to write” to “I’m too darn tired to write!” The solution to this problem is simple: suck it up and write.

 

SOME EXTRA TIPS

  • Don’t prioritize your creative projects below your school work. Make them equal.
  • Carry a notepad with you (or some word processing device) to jot down ideas that you may have throughout the day.
  • Find time to read for fun.
  • If your schedule is ruined by some unforeseen circumstance, don’t freak out. Reschedule and keep writing.

 

What do you think? If you could add something to this method, what would it be? If you tried this method, how did it work for you?