It’s not whether you win or lose… February 15, 2017 – Posted in: Inspiration, Thoughts – Tags: Inspiration, writer's block
So, I entered a short story contest the other day. I receive various email updates from a myriad of writing sites and groups, one of which was notifying me that their short(er) story contest deadline was being extended. Normally, I pass these sorts of contests up for one reason or another (time, topic, there’s a fee involved, etc.), but this one peaked my interest because the entry was to be only 1000 words or less—and the entry fee was cheap.
1000 words? I could do that. Easy peasy, right? What my subconscious was goading me to do was the primary thing I want to be doing… what I need to be doing… WRITING.
I skimmed through all the story ideas I’d jotted down over time, random words that tickled my fancy, title ideas, searching for the one thing that would incite a concise short story for submission. Finally, I found what I was looking for. The idea formulated quickly, and after a few hours I had something I could tweak into shape, have a few trusted eyes check for errors, etc., then submit.
Afterwards, the most amazing thing happened! I didn’t care if I ranked first, second or third in the contest, or even if my story was considered for honorable mention. I was more thrilled with the fact that, after months of being stagnant in my writing (insert excuse #312 here) I finally wrote something—something that I really liked, to boot! In 920 words, I created a compelling character, a mood, a theme, and a clever twist to trigger my reader’s ah-ha reflex. That’s the hope, anyway.
I began to accept this contest as a much-needed writing prompt. I needed to be writing—something— and this was just the thing I needed. It slipped loose the knots securing my writer’s block in place. Possibly because it was an unexpected writing project that served as a distraction from my other works in progress. A palate cleanser, if you will.
Like riding a roller coaster and remembering how much you enjoyed the thrill, then wanting to hop on for another spin while the adrenalin was running high, I began focusing on my stagnant works. I was eager, I was researching again, my interest revived and I was back on board.
We (writers) hear the mantra all the time: writers write. That’s easier said than done. The truth is that, for some, the motivation is elusive for one reason or another, writer’s block is more of a psychological stumbling block, and the subconscious fear that your work won’t be good enough can bring your efforts to a crippling halt. Trying to ride out these situations can have an adverse effect, creating a vicious cycle of struggling with wanting to write, but hating yourself for not being able to—perpetuating the struggle, and the cycle wheel goes around again.
You’ll be as happy as I was to find how writing prompts, contests, or even reading an author you enjoy, can all help to be palate cleansers to reinvigorate you and get you back to that project you want to finish, but haven’t touched in a while. Finish it so you can move on to your next one!