Put Your Best Hand In: Volunteer

I started out thinking I’d write about contests, but then I realized I really was thinking more along the lines of volunteering with contest judging or coordinating being a subset.


So, you think?  She’s truly weird…how did she get from contests to volunteering?


Well, I’m sure many would say weird plus might fit parts of my personality, but my leap of thought in this situation was that I was t6hinking of contests as my volunteering to help with them, not thinking of what I might personally gain with a contest win or a final.


Oh, volunteering as a judge or coordinator or moderator for a loop provides benefits for me, more than I imagined when I first started putting myself “out there—in the contest trenches.”


  • I learned so much about writing, what works and doesn’t, by reading and judging entries.
  • I found some lasting online friendships with other judges, coordinators, or people involved in giving of their time and talent to make a contest succeed.  If you’ve never judged a writing contest you’d be amazed at how many hands and minds grease the contest wheels for success.
  • I learned new skills for using the computer, the internet, the group loops.
  • I developed even better organizational and time management skills.


I could surely come up with more that I’ve received as “gifts” for volunteering—all helpful to me in so many parts of my life.  I have to say I’ve used contest volunteering as an example here, but from experiences in my personal life with volunteering, I also know these truths are universal.  And believe me, I’ve done many volunteer hours in different capacities and venues–from church to community to professional.


My point for all of us to ponder this week is this.  Sometimes we fear we aren’t “good enough” or have “enough knowledge or skill” to be useful.  Not true in most cases.  If you aren’t sure, but want to dip a hand to help, ask if a group can use you and list what you are good at when they ask.  You’d be very surprised how skills and talents are transferrable.


But back to contests:  Two of my writing groups have current or upcoming contests for unpublished writers.  WisRWA‘s FAB 5 and Kiss of Death’s, Daphne.  I’ll be judging and helping with the loops for both. 


In closing, the weather outside in frightful—as in dark and depressing.  Lake Michigan looks like a wicked brandy slush.

Baby, it's a cold lake

Baby, it's a cold lake

  Perfect conditions, I guess, to work on the #1 goal from last week.  Word—and building a template.


Explore posts in the same categories: Life Skills, Photos, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Contests

6 Comments on “Put Your Best Hand In: Volunteer”

  1. Donnell Says:

    Good morning, Casey, I’m so honored you included the Daphne in one of your favorite contests. How odd, that there’s a reversible pattern. The Wisconsin Fabulous V is one of my favs. As for volunteering, I too volunteer for my sheriff’s office, Toastmasters, church, etc. And I think this is an amazing way for an introvert to find a way to fit in. Most writers are introverts, wouldn’t you agree? We are watchers, examiners, and I for one learn better if I apply the training firsthand. As for contests, judging is an amazing way to see what works, when you might not recognize it in your own writing. It’s truly helpful when you see something applied in another’s work that you’ve done in your own that is working, but even more helpful when you see it when it’s not working. That old saying you’re too close to the forest to see the trees… that’s why I love to judge contests. It’s a fantastic learning experience, plus as Casey said the friendships made are invaluable. Very nice post!

  2. Casey/Mary Jo Says:

    Thanks, Donnell, for the great post.

    You are a great example of volunteering. Your comments about what you get to help your own writing projects when you judge is spot on. I think too often contests become about how many finals you log and not what you learn to make yourself better as a writer, as a judge or coordinator, as a person.

    Take care.

  3. Robie Says:

    Hi Casey

    Great post! I judge several writing contests over the course of a year. Two reasons — I like to “give back” to aspiring and/or published authors and the writing community at large + It’s something I can do fairly easily from the comfort of my home office.

    Oh yes, and I discover some great reads…for free. 🙂

  4. Casey/Mary Jo Says:

    Ah, the free reads…important bonus, Robie. Thanks for reminding me.

    Are you shivering this morning?

  5. edie17 Says:

    I’m judging on both those contests! Plus Great Expectations, which I’m taking a break from. Back to work now!

  6. Casey/Mary Jo Says:


    You’ll be a fantastic judge. Thanks for being such a generous person with your talents. Here’s hoping you make it to the next AT round! Yippee, Edie!

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