Posted by: michellemuldoon | September 9, 2010

To Contest, or Not To Contest…

That is certainly a question; a very important question. I had a conversation a while back about this very complex topic for writers, when is it time to get out of the contest game and is there ever a time to? 

Every writer without a screen credit needs to prove that they can write, or more specifically, someone other than their best friend, parent, guardian, partner, child, sibling, insurance person or favorite video clerk thinks they might actually have some talent.  What’s a person to do, then? Well, there’s only one answer to that… “TO CONTEST!”

Screenplay contests are put on by almost every festival, magazines, former print magazines, producers, lovers of film, educational institutions and various organizations. There seems to be a new one popping up every other month, and that isn’t to sound snarky and say that’s bad, but when you look at your disposable income and the amount alloted for contests, it can leave your head spinning.

Right, so, let’s cut to the chase… What do you do when you’ve spent several years entering contests, you have a body of results, and you’re still looking for that first option deal. Has the time come… “NOT TO CONTEST”?

That’s a tricky one. The problem with contests is that they become addictive. You start to measure the passing of days by when contest results come out.  You start to think in terms of what will win you a contest, not what is a sellable script (The two can be mutually exclusive)  and worst of all, you start to lose perspective as to why you’re doing this in the first place. Winning becomes its own form of enjoyment and the danger there is, it becomes as important as securing an option.

So, the question still remains for those of us on the hamster wheel of contests…. When is it enough?  When have the results proven you can write? And when do you decide it’s time to replace one strategy with another?

Talk amongst yourselves and get back to me. I’m off to find out if there’s any result notifications  in my “” account.


  1. I don’t find I get wrapped up in them. Once I send something off it’s forgotten. However the trick for me is to find contests that will mean something, or have good enough prizes to fork out all that dough. As we know, they are not all created equal!

  2. Loved the pic of your little kitty….almost made the topic of when to cease or continue with contests enjoyable. The thing that drives me is to win/place-well in some major contests and while I placed this year in the semi-finals for AAA contest there were many other high profile contests that somehow passed on my work (wuz up with that!!!). So I continue to play the game but have noted that sometimes all this contest activity takes away from energy and drive to write something new.

  3. I like to hear how others view contests. It always feels like there’s stages to making your way through the industry as a writer. Stage 1: finish something and enter. Stage 2: become a finalist and or win. Stage 3: Receive requests to read. Stage 4…. Anyone else want to describe stage 4?


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