Friday, September 16, 2011

Taking a chance

Do you ever buy a lottery ticket? I'm part of a syndicate at work but rarely buy one for myself. So on that basis I'm unlikely to become an instant millionaire anytime soon and if I do, the winnings will be shared.

I ask the question because when I buy a lottery ticket there is not much emotion attached to it. There is hope but if I don't win there is never more than, 'Ah well,' before I go ahead and buy another.

From week to week the probability of winning is about the same, so each time I buy a ticket I have a similar chance of becoming a millionaire. Of course, if I haven't brought a ticket my chances of winning are a big fat ZILCH.

If only entering writing competitions felt like that same kind of simplicity. If only it was hand over a pound and just win or lose. But with writing competitions there is no getting away from the emotional investment. You have spent time, made it as good as you can and used creative energy for it to exist. Then there's the hovering awareness of nearing closing dates and  the knots form in your stomach whilst hoping for the desired result...

Then the disappointment at not being selected. You are a crap writer. You convince yourself of the fact. You figure there is no point in ever spending the time or energy to try again because, well, you tried your best and it still didn't win. Sound familiar? If you are like me you will have confidence that flails around like an octupus.

It would be very easy after one disappointment to give up and never bother again. But would you do the same with a lottery ticket? Just because I haven't won the lottery yet, it doesn't stop me from still buying a ticket every now and then.

If you're having a flailing moment it is worth trying to take the emotional element from the process and just making sure you are in the draw. Because who knows... your numbers might come up. And unlike with the lottery you can improve your chances:

  • Try different types of writing competitions
  • Get feedback if it's available 
  • Write more and enter more - it will give you a feel as to what works
  • Read previous winning entries - it will give you a sense of what the judges are looking for
  • Always remember you have to be in it, to win it!

Whilst taking a break from novel writing I'm taking the time to enter a few competitions. All very different and each presenting different challenges. I know some I will have very little hope with but a little hope is better than none. So if you haven't entered a competition for a while, take a chance...

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