How to Conquer Competition Season and Stand Out

December 1, 2016 Strategy

Major screenwriting competitions have thousands of entrants. How do you stand out? It always comes down to the script, but readers have different opinions. Script reading is only objective to a point. The most you can do to control the outcome is to put your best foot forward: follow directions, choose good contests, and submit a tremendous screenplay. Here’s how to conquer competition season and stand out:

Check out a grid of contests here (aggregated by Jelena Woehr).

Confidence in Your Material

How do you make sure your script is the best it can be? Prepare. Get notes. Revise your script. Competitions are dependent on their readers and those readers’ sensibilities. By submitting to more than one contest, you are diversifying your interests.  

Submit your best work. If the contest you’re submitting to asks for extra material, follow the guidelines and directions. Make everything you submit exemplary. Know that you are putting the best you have to offer out there.

Be confident. When you’re laying money on the line, it’s important to believe in your investment.

Whether you place or win, putting yourself out there is honestly an astounding feat. Most people can’t even do that. They hold themselves back. You’re giving this a shot.

Accountability and Support

Writing is a solitary venture.  Keeping to your goals and deadlines takes a lot of self-motivation and organization. You don’t have to do it all alone.

Half the battle is mindset!

You can use accountability systems with friends and other writers. Join writing groups in person or online. Maybe even tell a non-writing friend your goals and see if they’ll help you stay on track. Having a writing partner can make the journey much easier, so give it a shot if you’re interested.

Do it

You will be able to find as many excuses as humanly possible to not succeed. Fear breeds self-sabotage, procrastination, and all sorts of ugly demons – even when this is 100% what we want. What are you afraid of?

  1. You’re afraid of failing.
  2. You’re afraid of wasting money.
  3. You’re afraid that your script isn’t ready.
  4. You’re afraid it doesn’t matter and/or that it matters too much.
  5. You’re afraid the things you want aren’t possible for you.

All of these things are within your control. You can tackle them through planning and doing. You set your own goals. You define your happiness and your success. You are the one who writes. It’s never a waste of money to try something that you really want to do and have been preparing for.

A contest is an investment. Like all investments there is a risk. In this case that may be a monetary or emotional risk. It’s okay to have fear. Don’t let the fear rule your actions. Be smart about your choices, and you’re doing the right thing.

2 Replies to “How to Conquer Competition Season and Stand Out”

  1. […] My friend Sam at Any Possibility also has some great contest-related resources available, including this article about conquering competition season. […]

  2. […] by being writers’ assistants, though. They did it by writing. They did writing fellowships; they won competitions; they self-produced award-winning short films. They did a million different things that impressed […]

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