As I read the tweets all tagged with #PitchWars (one of the many writing/pitching contests on Twitter), I find myself sometimes responding to some people, even though I no longer participate in these contests (I made the decision four months ago, and wrote about why I chose that path). Some, are super positive, encouraging other writers, others saying how excited they are, stuff like that. Some are tweeting what other people call ‘negative’ tweets (now, to clarify in advance, I’m not talking about people putting others down, or saying mean things about anyone, including contests, writers, agents, etc. – again, I’m NOT talking about those tweets, and I even wrote a positive blog about why contests works for some writers).
So…’negative’ tweets about having no hope of winning themselves, assuming they’ve already lost, etc. In my opinion, this isn’t what I call a negative tweet, or even negativity, but a way that some people cope. A lot of people with anxiety (and I’m not putting all of us in the same ‘corner’, I just know a lot of people (including myself) with anxiety disorders, so this is just from talking + a psych minor in university) often will cope by tweeting things like this – it’s like a way to get the nagging voice inside our heads that tell us we’re failures, that we shouldn’t have participated in the first place, and put them out there – I wouldn’t say it’s for attention, more than it’s a cry for help, in a way, but sometimes, it’s something else completely. I remember I was feeling really down about not getting into the I-don’t-even-know-how-many-contests-I’ve-participated-in-and-didn’t-get-in-anymore, and I read someone’s tweet that would have been considered ‘negative’ and thought: “Oh…this person understands! They know what I’m feeling, they know how torn up I am inside right now.” and in a way, that tweet, which was ‘negative’ to some people, was a positive one for me, and for others who felt the same way. It made me reach out to the person, and think less of my ‘loss’ and instead, more of ‘many of us didn’t get in, and that’s ok.’ So for me, ‘negative’ tweets aren’t necessarily negative – I see them as a way to cope, and if people start saying never to post anything negative online, I think this takes the only way some people can deal with stress and anxiety, and basically says that “it’s not an ok way to do it” (think a little of people with social anxiety who check their phones to calm themselves down – if you say it’s rude, or that they’re too addicted to their phones, do you think that helps them at all?). I’d rather send an encouraging tweet back, let them know they’re not alone, and that, most of all, it’s OK to feel this way sometimes, but that by letting it out, it doesn’t need to affect the rest of your life.
All in all, if people tweet positive or ‘negative’ things, I’ll try responding, but I don’t think one method of dealing with contests is right or wrong (again, as long as you’re not negative about others). This is just my opinion – I may be the only one with it, and there might be a thousand other people that share my view, but either way, that’s just what it is, right? My opinion that these tweets are negative, and your opinion that they are – we’re all different, we all think differently, and that’s what makes our world interesting – to share in our differences, and understand different points of view (though, it doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing with them 😉 )
p.s. As a final note, I guess maybe it’s because I was brought up in a different era, country, province (whatever the reason), but for me, the definition of a contest is that there are winners (people who get in), and those who don’t win (people who don’t get in). However, everyone wins new friends, knowledge, experience and advice if they take it in, but as far as the contest itself goes, yes…some people don’t win, and that’s how the world works (you get a job interview – someone gets the job, the other people get experience of going through an interview, but that’s it – what you went in for, you didn’t get – and that’s also fine!). What does it mean not to win the contest and get in? It means that this industry is subjective, and so is a contest. (subjective + subjective = SUPERsubjective! 😉 ) – a contest has a limited amount of picks, and like it or not, some people won’t get it – it doesn’t mean your manuscript wasn’t good, but it just means it wasn’t picked this time because it’s subjective (have I said this enough yet?) and someone (human beings with different tastes, opinions, etc.) had to pick a limited amount, and that’s it. It’s not a reflection of your writing, but whether or not we like to hear it, sometimes, we don’t get in, we don’t win the actual contest, and that’s fine. Keep querying, keep participating in contests if that’s what you like to do, if that’s the path you’ve chosen.
The most important thing to remember is that no matter what happens, no matter how many contests you don’t get in, how many rejection letters you receive, how many ‘negative’ tweets you post on Twitter, how many times that nagging voice discourages you, NEVER GIVE UP!