Monday, August 18, 2014

6 ways #Pitchwars changed my writing life (even though I didn’t get an agent)

Yay, Pitchwars submission just happened (in fact, it doesn't close until tonight at midnight). That means, if you submitted to a potential mentor, you will be compulsively checking twitter and email waiting for a response. I know, because I was in you shoes just a few months ago. Pitchwars is a terrific event that changed my writing in a lot of ways. Here are the top 6. Enjoy!

1. Pitchwars gave me a big ol’ confidence shot right in the arm. Getting selected by a mentor was some freaking awesome validation. I think I may have cried.

2. Then, Pitchwars swung its size 11 shoe straight into my crotch. So, almost immediately after getting into the contest you start hearing from your mentor. It’s not all good stuff. It’s hard to take criticism (even criticism you asked for) but keep an open mind. The advice you receive during this contest might be some of the best feedback you get.

3. Pitchwars introduced me new friends, colleagues, and CP’s. I met tons of new writers through the #Pitchwars. I even found and followed new agents that I hadn’t previously stalked…I mean followed. I also gained the CP support of the other writers on my team. We read for each other and provided feedback. It was fabulous.

4. Warning: Pitchwars feedback may apply to all your novels. Seriously. My mentor’s advice was not unique – she pointed out something you often hear but never think applies to you: I was starting my manuscript in the wrong place. Majorly wrong place. I had to scrap my first 6 chapters and write an entirely new beginning to my novel. What the what?! Yeah, I was skeptical at first but after talking it through with my mentor I really understood. Since then, I’ve re-evaluated the beginnings of my other finished WIPs and guess what – they started in the wrong place as well!

5. Pitchwars made me tired. I mean so tired. It’s a lot of work. Unlike some other contests, the expectation in Pitchwars is that you take the feedback and edit your MS, query, pitch etc with the goal of having a new and improved version for the Agents to read at the auction. I was scrambling to make changes in time for the final auction and I didn’t even come close. It’s a lot of work people. But it taught me to plan and schedule my writing time better.

6. Most importantly, Pitchwars was an ah-ha moment for me regarding subjectivity in publishing. Here is an accurate re-enactment of my thought process during and after Pitchwars: “Oh man I got in. This is awesome. This is really going to happen. OMG my MS sucks. I’m a terrible writer. All this rewriting. I’m never going to make it as an author. Wait, I’m starting to like these ideas. I really like them. Just keep writing. Just keep writing. Yay Auction day – someone wants my stuff. OMG someone wants my stuff. I knew it. I knew I would make it. This is it. This is the beginning of my success story……(months later)….I didn’t make it. No one is ever going to love my story. I’m worthless…it was all a lie.

Its’ a rollercoaster, yes, so wrap your arms around the safety bars and hold on tight. But the above melodrama doesn’t have to be your story too. Getting into Pitchwars is an awesome achievement. You’ve caught the eye of an industry pro. That’s huge. Celebrate that accomplishment. Or, maybe you don't. Maybe you don't get into this contest. Maybe you get a request on auction day – maybe you don’t. Maybe the agent who requests your stuff loves it – maybe they don’t. Don’t let that diminish the weight of your achievement (You wrote a freakin' book and had the guts to show it to someone - always celebrate that). This biz is hugely subjective. Just because you wow the mentors doesn’t guarantee your story will be the next break out success. There are no guarantees on the business side of things.

But here’s what you can do: You can learn from every second of Pitchwars. You can focus on craft and improve. You can meet new people and gain wonderful friendships and even new CP’s. You can query your new-and-improved MS after Pitchwars. You can make the most of this MS, this contest, regardless of its outcome, and you can become the writer you want to be. You made it this far. You can go farther, if you’re willing to do the work, I guarantee it.

Want more on Pitchwars? Read my recap here.

Being graceful in public, being thankful.

On Rejection (or why losing is not the same as not winning.

Contest fatigue? Read about it here.

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