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I love writing contests!

I love writing contests for so many reasons.  Recently, I found out that two of my picture book manuscripts placed in the 80th Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition.  Wahoo!  Great news like that definitely helps me get through the long waits we often have in this business (and it shows me that people other than my critique buddies value my work).  

Years ago, I made a goal of getting published by the time I turned 40.  Um...that didn't happen.  So then I switched it to having a contract and agent by the time I turned 40.  That didn't happen either.  Now, I feel closer than ever, but I've decided not to make this kind of goal anymore.  No matter how much I revise, get feedback and revise again, attend conferences or intensives, and find a way to target the perfect agents or editors...it's out of my hands once I submit my manuscript.  Other than always striving to do my best work and constantly grow as a writer, I've found that putting a time or age goal on it isn't the best way to motivate myself.  So as I celebrate my 43rd birthday tomorrow, I won't make new goals like this.  I do hope it'll happen soon...with the perfect agent and editor for me, but my goals will be things I can control, like finishing a round of revisions on my MG, gathering new ideas for future projects, and polishing up a few more picture books so I'll have even more that are ready to submit when the time is right.  

To help me reach goals like these, I'll definitely turn to contests that motivate writers--and there are several amazing ones coming up soon.  Check them out when you have a chance!

* Right now, Jo Knowles is in the middle of JoNoWriMo, which has you set your goals from mid September until the end of November.  It's a really supportive community that helps cheer each other on.

* For all you picture book writers out there (or those who have thought about writing them), there's PiBoIdMo, run by Tara Lazar.  Picture Book Idea Month encourages you to come up with a picture book idea each day in November, for a total of 30 ideas in 30 days.  I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do it last year, since I participated in NaNoWriMo…but in addition to writing a 50,000+ word novel in November, I also came up with 38 picture book ideas!  Several of them have sparked into great manuscripts, and I can’t wait to see what new ideas I’ll have this year.  There are daily blogs to inspire you…check out the posts from last year.  Don’t forget to look at Tara Lazar’s website for current info!  If having 30 shiny new ideas to mold into manuscripts by the end of November isn’t enough incentive, anyone who signs up for the challenge and completes it can win awesome prizes…including critiques!  

***I usually flesh out my favorite ideas for a while, then write first drafts of them in Paula Yoo's NaPiBoWriWee, where you write seven picture book drafts in seven days the first week of May.  I was so excited about my PiBoIdMo ideas, that I ended up writing 8 manuscripts instead of 7!  

*Many of you know about NaNoWriMo, which takes place from November 1st through the 30th.  I've participated (and won) National Novel Writing Month every year since I first took the plunge in 2006.  It's a great way to tackle the first draft of a new novel.  It definitely helps to come up with character sketches and an outline ahead of time (or if you're like me, a general idea of the plot with some specific details).

The best thing about the motivation contests is the amount of support you get from other writers.  It can be such a long journey, with so many hours spent locked in a writing cave--working toward a common goal with writing friends is a fun way to motivate yourself to make your goals!  Plus, it's something you can control.  

What helps you make it through all the long waits?  
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( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Megan Frances Abrahams
Oct. 17th, 2011 09:30 pm (UTC)
Sources of motivation
All your ideas for finding motivation are great. I haven't participated in NaNoWriMo or other similar contests yet, but I do attend conferences. Aside from my critique group and taking the odd class, which imposes a contrived deadline, the thing that works best for me is psyching myself to be disciplined about my writing - something I've been very remiss about lately. You've got to want to be locked in that writing cave!

Happy to discover your blog. I'm retweeting this post.
Oct. 18th, 2011 05:16 am (UTC)
Re: Sources of motivation
Thanks so much, Megan!

I'm in 5 critique groups, so I have lots of deadlines to help keep me on track. Plus, I often try to push myself to polish up a manuscript or finish a round of revisions before a conference.

I hope you have an amazing writing day tomorrow. Let me know if you decide to try one of the challenges. :)
Oct. 17th, 2011 10:37 pm (UTC)
I have to laugh because my original goal was also to be published by 40! Oh well...happy birthday :) (I also turned 43 this year).
Oct. 18th, 2011 05:18 am (UTC)
LOL, I knew we had a lot in common. After all our hard work, I hope we'll both be shouting out great news soon. :)

Thanks for the birthday wishes!
Oct. 18th, 2011 12:08 am (UTC)
Happy birthday!
Oct. 18th, 2011 05:19 am (UTC)
Thanks, Barbara. :)
Oct. 18th, 2011 01:22 am (UTC)
Happy birthday tomorrow! I turn 41 this year, so...yeah.

I love writing contests, too. They make me stick my neck out and focus my writing more.
Oct. 18th, 2011 05:22 am (UTC)
Thanks, Rose!

So true about writing contests! They help in so many ways. Besides giving me deadlines and good news to help get me through the long waits, I love having a word count or page count to work toward, because it really helps me chop away words that aren't needed.
Oct. 18th, 2011 03:48 pm (UTC)
Happy Birthday, Mindy! I appreciate making goals within our reach and control, so I send good wishes that you continue to write the very best stories you can in the coming year. Oh, yeah....I also wish you lots of laughter and just the right amount of cake!
Oct. 21st, 2011 06:28 am (UTC)
Thanks so much for all the sweet wishes you sent me, Tracy. :)
Oct. 18th, 2011 03:53 pm (UTC)
The way I get through the waiting is by staying connected with other writers. I've done NaNoWrMo. Ended up writing 50K of backstory and being out of my mind for most of the month ... and I really can't afford to have my mind missing for so long. Glad it works for you and so many others.

Sending birthday happies! You'll never be too old to see your goals come to fruition :)
Oct. 21st, 2011 06:32 am (UTC)
Staying connected with other writers is a huge help for me, too. LOL--sorry that NaNo didn't work well for you. It's definitely an intense month. I often push things aside to give myself the most amount of writing time (and I've learned to buy extra underwear for everyone in my house, because the laundry mountain gets totally out of control).

Aw, thanks! I'm a little sad that my girls are already out of picture book age and might be out of middle-grade range by the time I have one in print. My 13 year-old pointed out that one day I'll have grandchildren who will grow up reading my books. ;)
Carol Gordon Ekster
Oct. 28th, 2011 10:27 pm (UTC)
Your writing Goal
You are such a committed writer, that I'm sure publication will happen for you. But it's best just to have fun with your work, feel the passion for writing, and work your craft, and not worry about publication. It will all fall into place when the time is right. And for now, continue to inspire other writers!
Oct. 30th, 2011 04:55 pm (UTC)
Re: Your writing Goal
Thanks so much, Carol. I agree--when you have fun with your writing, it really shows. Trying to write just for the sake of being published can rip the heart of a manuscript.

I'm glad all these fun November challenges are here to remind us to enjoy every minute of writing time!

Edited at 2011-10-30 05:03 pm (UTC)
Oct. 30th, 2011 10:23 pm (UTC)
Great blog post and WOOHOO for PiBoIdMo! I try NaNoWriMo but never 'win' perhaps this year! You must have an amazing writing habit to get so much done and stay sane! WOW!
Oct. 30th, 2011 10:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much! My laundry mountain threatens to take over my house and I think my girls forget who I am by the end of November...but I really love these challenges!

I always try to carve out a nice chunk of writing time each day, but challenges like this really light a fire under me. Good luck with PiBoIdMo and NaNoWriMo. I hope you win BOTH this year!
Sheri Larsen
Oct. 30th, 2011 10:44 pm (UTC)
Wow!! Congratulations on placing!! I just started following you via Tara's FB PiBoIdMo page. Looking forward to all the stories that I'm sure will be floating around the blogosphere next month!
Oct. 30th, 2011 11:02 pm (UTC)
Re: PiBoIdMo
Thanks so much, Sheri! It's great getting to know you through PiBoIdMo. I know you'll love this challenge. It's such a motivating and fun way to come up with new ideas. Good luck! I hope the ideas flow for you. :)
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )


Mindy's head shot
Mindy Alyse Weiss
I write humorous middle-grade novels with heart and quirky picture books.

I'm an Administrator on the SCBWI Blueboard, the FL SCBWI Newsletter Editor and Critique Group Coordinator, and a proud member of From The Mixed Up Files...of Middle-Grade Authors

I've been married for twenty years and have two beautiful daughters, an adventurous Bullmasador adopted from The Humane Society, and an adorable Beagle/Pointer mix pup who was rescued from the Everglades.

I've been published in Highlights three times and placed in the 80th Writer's Digest Competition.


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