I have learned several things about myself as a writer in the last several years, the first being that I tend to really buckle down on project deadlines the closer I get to the end of the year. For whatever reason, I tend to be a much more productive writer in the fall. I suppose its my preferred aesthetic. But I’m not here to talk about seasons. I’m here to talk about the importance of the #PitchWars Twitter contest and November’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).
These annual events involve the writing community as a whole: unpublished and published writers, agents looking for new clients; everyone is here to promote the art of writing. If you have not yet participated in either of these events, let me tell you why you should.
- DISCIPLINE: This is something you absolutely need if you plan to pursue a career in writing. There will be days the words you churn out suck, but you’ll just have to power through. You will also have numerous deadlines, and nothing helps prepare you for those like trying to write 50k words in a month.
- A BETTER STORY: You should always be looking to improve as a writer; you will never be perfect, and that’s okay! An event like NaNoWriMo gives you the excuse to try something new or build on something old. It’s perfect for experimentation. #PitchWars is a little different, but if you are active on the forums you will more often times than not receive input on your query letter, the first 250 words of your novel, and sometimes the first 5 pages. I can’t tell you how much more engaging my novel is because of this.
- FRIENDSHIP & INSIGHT: Writing is not easy. Breaking in is not easy. As writers we are all here to support each other. For me this was probably the most important aspect of #PitchWars and NaNoWriMo. I’ve made some great friends through both of these, people I’m more than happy to commiserate and share work with. Writing can be lonely at times, so it’s important to have sounding boards. But also: do you want to network with the pros? Do you want to learn more about the industry? DO YOU WANT TO ENGAGE IN GIF WARS AND RECEIVE PICTURES OF FUZZY ANIMALS? Yes. Yes to ALL of the above.
Check out the websites below for more in-depth explanations about each contest.
Author’s note: Writing is supposed to be fun; these contests are meant to be fun. But there are times when frustration sets in, and it is important not to let that get the best of you. I speak in defense of the professionals who generously offer their free time to help unpublished or emerging authors. They are not required to do so, but they do anyway because they want to. Please do not harass them. It will come back to bite you.