It’s that time of year again. The ACFW Genesis Contest is officially open for entries. I’ve entered the Genesis Contest two years in a row and I plan to enter again this year. There are three main reasons why I think it’s such a valuable experience:
You can get your writing out there. If you want to be a writer, you’ve got to get your work out there. Allowing people to read your writing is not only intimidating, it’s downright difficult. It means being vulnerable and opening yourself up to criticism. But it’s so important. For me, entering the contest has been a significant growth experience, and has given me the opportunity to get my work in front of agents and editors. All finalist entries are judged by professionals in the publishing business. You never know … one of them might like what they see.
You can get honest, anonymous feedback. Each time I have entered the Genesis Contest, I have received insightful feedback that has helped shape my writing. Last year, as a finalist, one of the judges included very practical advice that helped me improve the manuscript to the point that it actually won first place in a Romance Writers of America contest a few months later. The best thing about the judging is that it’s completely anonymous, so you know the judges are making their assessments based solely on your writing.
You can start getting used to subjectivity. I know this is one of the biggest complaints about entering contests. One judge may score you really high while another scores you really low and it can be hard to reconcile the two responses. But it is also a great exercise for learning how to process feedback. Someday, when you are a published author, you’ll receive feedback from your readers. Readers coming from different cultures, different walks of life, different viewpoints. Writing is subjective. The best thing we can do is learn to be open to others’ ideas and opinions, prayerfully consider how each comment should impact our writing, and graciously use criticism as tool for growth in our writing as well as in our lives.
There you have it, three very important reasons to enter the 2009 Genesis contest. All entries must be received by March 31, so get to work! Check out http://www.acfw.com/genesis/ for more information.