I love judging writing contests. I’m always amazed at the soon-to-be discovered talent out there. Recently, I read and judged a dozen or so 50-page entries and frankly, I was shocked that not one of them was bad. Oh, there were a few I didn’t care for story-wise, but all of the entries were well above average in the writing department and several I’m still thinking about and wanting to read the entire story!
I’m still a little awed by the overall quality of these entries. In contrast, the last contest I judged (a year or so ago) had some of the most poorly written and executed entries I had ever read. They were so bad, I was wondering if I was being punked.
The bar has been raised.
It’s being raised everywhere. Not only in the publishing industry, but in many other industries. To stay competitive, we must give consumers more than what they expect, and for less. In many ways, we’re working harder for less, but know if we don’t work harder to produce a better product, then the person next to us will, and then we’re toast.
As difficult as this economy is right now, it’s teaching us all how to dig deeper, work with less and produce more. I like it. Not the not having money part, but the having to work harder part. I like the challenge. I like to see how far I can push myself. I’m writing better and more consistently then I ever have in my career. My brain is thinking in ways it has never thought before. I like it.
I like that when I look around at my peers, I see them doing the same thing. Working harder, often times for less, but not complaining. Just doing it. Sacrificing so they can just do it.
Just like those contest entries. Those writers worked hard on them. It showed in every word. They understand to get the prize they must raise the bar. No slackers allowed. They understand that they have to work harder, and produce better then ever, to stand out. To catch an agent’s eye, and an editor’s eye. The sure caught my eye.
What about you? What have you done lately to raise the bar?