Motivation · Writing

Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone

I’m a relative newcomer to submitting to writing contests. I entered one last fall, and received my feedback and results in December. Just last week, I submitted to my second, the Golden Heart competition.

The Golden Heart is a competition put on by Romance Writers of America (RWA) for unpublished authors. It’s the last year it’s being held in its current form, though RWA has promised that they’ll try to replace it with something new. As a relatively recent member of RWA (two years and counting), I wanted to have the experience and take the chance on submitting to the contest, even if I’m not fully confident in my chances of becoming a finalist.

Here’s the thing: if you don’t try, you’ll never know.

If I chose to play it safe and not submit, waiting until I felt more ‘ready’, dozens of contests could come and go, and I still might not feel ready to put myself out there. Even if I don’t become a finalist, which given the odds is possible/probable, submitting to a contest is good for me. It’s pushing me outside my comfort zone, and forcing me to do stuff that feels hard.

It’s also getting me accustomed to dealing with feedback and scores. As a writer, you can never assume that readers will universally love your work. It’s a fool’s errand to think otherwise. And, while I know that intellectually, getting scores and feedback is the only real way to toughen up my skin.

Here’s the thing. With this contest, I went a step further. I not only entered the contest, but signed up to judge as well. What better way to understand and learn from the skills, abilities, and techniques of other writers than to read what they’re putting out into the world to be judged?