I started my one of my own ideas for a story before I heard everyone else's. Then the rumors started flying in: mythical creatures, play-on-words, historical or foreign settings, other worlds, sci-fi, steampunk, abstract art forms, and so on. Everything sounds so exciting, and each idea stirs my imagination as I try to guess what sort of tale it will turn out to be.
It's hard to not feel intimidated...or to kick myself, wishing I had thought of such a genius twist. Some of the brilliant ideas make my story look very, very ordinary. Others are so crazy and abstract that I probably wouldn't care for them much, but others will.
I'm somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 of the way through my first draft, which is an easy time to feel discouraged and wonder if your story is worth the effort. The typical artist cycle has points of self-doubt, and it's easy to deepen that when you read of other's exciting plans.
If others' stories make you feel like hiding under a rock, you may ask me, then why did you say the next several months are going to be so much fun?
There are two ways to approach others' writing in this contest. You can either compare the reality of your own work with your imagination of others' works. Or you can drop all comparisons and link arms.
Our stories are all going to be different. Some will be wild and crazy. Some will be sweet. Some will be ordinary. Some will be realistic. Some will spin in a world all their own. Yours will not be exactly like anyone else's.
But our path as writers will be similar. Even the most confident, braggart of a writer has moments of self-doubt. Even the most skilled wordsmith drops ordinary sentences on a page that will need to be edited. We all have things we are prodigiously good at, and we all have weaknesses that we work through. That's why we enter a contest.
Look around at the other contest writers. We're in this together, and we all want to get better at what we do.
That means that, instead of feeling intimidated by someone else's dazzling plot, we should get excited. "Oh, cool! That is such a fun idea! Good job! Can't wait to read it!" And then we contently go back to plodding away on our own tales, confident that we will be proud of them once they are finished and polished.
So, yes, this year is going to be very, very fun.