A bit of satire drifted into my inbox yesterday…a delightfully ludicrous article on how to win a design award. (Basically, just send in anything accompanied with a really high application fee.)

It brings to mind an unforgettable piece of general-yet-specific advice that one of my creative writing professors, Srikanth (Chicu) Reddy, said to my class: “Ignore the pressure of getting published and getting awards. You’ll be tempted. Ignore it.”

Today, it’s easier than ever to publish. Blogs. LinkedIn. Twitter. Facebook. Snapchat. Moo. FedEx. CustomInk. Even Walmart and Walgreens.

And, if you’d like, it’s easier than ever to make awards. Download a free certificate template online.

While self-publishing can be (and often is) immediately satisfying, self-awarding is certainly more fraught with questions of value. But that’s true of awards in general.

What do you see as the difference between something being deserving of public attention and being deserving of a seal of recognition? What’s your mental distinction between a “like” from a hundred followers and a trophy awarded by a committee of half a dozen?

How is it that as artists, we can feel rewarded simply by creating something in our lonely huts…and yet, sometimes (or as Chicu might say, inevitably), we seek something that announces, “You made something unique, something special, something amazing! You won!” (insert flourishes and fanfare)

What’s the contest? Does it end? What’s the cost of submission?

Perhaps ignoring it is the best way to start doing truly rewarding work.