Applying Yourself: Entering Contests and Competitions | Fiction School Podcast Season 5 Episode 6

Applying Yourself: Entering Contests and Competitions | Fiction School Podcast Season 5 Episode 6

**Hey! Quick! It’s the last day to enter the Fiction Open! Send ’em in now!

Baker once had a writing teacher that said writing wasn’t a competition between writers. The only competition was the writer vs. the page. He obviously hadn’t heard of the epic Poets vs. Prosers basketball games, but more importantly, he was correct. The longer you are a writer, the more you see that it’s much more important and fulfilling to collaborate and cooperate.

But, balderdash, you say. There are cutthroat writing contests and competitions galore! Yes, it’s true, but even then, Fiction Schoolers believe it’s important to see it as joining in a community and supporting the literary world, paying it forward with your entry fee to receive that little extra bit of attention from a caring and invested editor.

Today on the show, we talk about the role contests can play in a writer’s career, how to love rejections and losing, and the litmus test all writers need to give themselves before they enter a contest.

And, oh, hey, this show is going live on the last day of OUR contest! It’s the Fiction Open from us and Razor Literary Magazine. Get all the details here, and send in your entries quick as Tommy is with his stick of Desperado!

Show Notes

  • The only podcast where you’ll know that the speakers are applying deodorant while talking about applying yourself. Wow, transition! Podcast award to Baker, please.
  • Make sure you apply to our contest. It only costs as much as a soda out of a machine, and we’re much more personable.
  • Tommy says writers should bust out of your hermit shell and send in your work, not just to us but to contests and editors in general. It’s a big leap, but you can’t win if you don’t play.

    Two writers racing to the post office to send in their manuscripts to a contest. No doubt about it.
    Two writers racing to the post office to send in their manuscripts to a contest. No doubt about it.
  • Tommy is adamant about  these tips: Only send in your best work. You know what’s good and what’s not, so use your better judgment. Know the contest rules.
  • Formatting is an easy thing to do correctly according to the guidelines given. It shows your professionalism and that you are easy to work with. It’s like wearing the right clothes to a job interview. Don’t send in a clown outfit to a writing contest.
  • If you are sending in work via snail mail, make sure your copy is clean and crisp. Does it look good?
  • Proofread everything. You know when you are sending an e-mail and you see that you used “than” instead of “then” or spelled your own name wrong? Yeah. Try not to do that.
  • Remember that you are joining a community of readers and writers. It’s not about winning contests but about getting your work read and out there.
  • Contests and contracts with them are worth the $25 that you might have to pay to know that you entered into that community of writers.
  • Baker asks a big question, key to writers who are sending their stuff out: how do you learn to handle your disappointment? 
  • Getting rejected and getting feedback is worth more than getting accepted. The whole process is about getting your work into the hands of more people and hearing what they think. If you receive nice “no” notes, it means your work is good and worth it. It might not be right for that contest or that magazine, but it is still good. So don’t give up, keep going and keep trying for contests.
  • Don’t get caught up in the names of certain articles, contests, etc. Find the right outlet for your work. Think about where your work will best fit in.
  • Regarding residencies…
  • Before applying, figure out what you want to accomplish. Know what you want out of every program you are applying for. If you are applying to writing residencies or workshops or writing retreats, have a project in mind or already begun. Don’t waste your money or your time trying to find inspiration or start something new there.
  • As a new writer, don’t jump right into residencies or retreats; get your feet wet first. Write a lot and apply for small magazines, contests, that kind of thing which can build up your work and help you feel confident about it.
  • Tommy declares Baker a genius, do we believe him?
  • Call Baker’s house if you are a writer applying yourself. Tommy would like to know what’s happening on the streets. What kind of feedback are you getting? What are your experiences like? The gang wants to know!
  • Here are a few of the writing retreats and fellowships we know of. Let us know of any other cool opportunities in the show notes!
  • Vermont Studio Center
  • Yaddo
  • Breadloaf
  • Anderson Center
  • National Endowment for the Arts
  • Stegner Fellowship
  • Pen Parentis

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