Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! (Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG)
Contests. I have a love hate relationship with them. I believe they are a good thing for writers to participate in. For one thing, it forces you to get your work out there and some of us need that encouragement. For another thing, if you are selective, you can receive feedback on your work that will be valuable in improving it. This can make the difference in you landing your short story with a journal or your novel with an agent.
What’s to lose then? Your self-esteem? Your self-confidence? Your first-born? Frankly, I find little as dreadful as entering a contest. It’s somewhere between a bed of hot nails and water boarding. Have I had success with contests? Yes. Have I gotten feedback from them? Yes. It was good and definitely worthwhile afterward but honestly, I’m not sure it was worth the hell I went through leading up to and waiting. Somehow, a contest is harder for me than submitting my work directly to journals and agents. Can’t explain that. It’s just part of the weird, insecure, artist’s psyche.
So…why did I just enter another one???? Where’s that bed of hot nails?