Here’s What You Should Know after Placing in a Writing Contest

The Great Accomplishment Slump

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I mentioned placing in a writing contest in an earlier post, and I thought I would elaborate on that this week. For those looking into writing contests, you’ve probably read how writing contests are a great way to start getting some exposure. Don’t get me wrong, this is definitely true, especially if you have a platform to continue promoting it or decide to include it in your resume.

But what happens if you don’t get that first place prize?

Well, I guess you might as well scream to the heavens that you’re an absolute LOSER. But you know what people will say? You’re wrong.

Trust me, I’ve been in this position. I’m never happy with my accomplishments because nothing that I do is ever good enough for me, especially when it comes to writing, I’ll confess that now. I’ve come in second place/honorable mention a few times now, and each time I reach a high where I go “Awesome! I placed in a contest! I’m making strides forward!” which is then followed by “Aw man, if I can’t do better than that, am I destined to be a mediocre writer for the rest of my life?”

Obviously, this is not true. (When did this blog become a place of therapy for me?). Here are three things I’ve learned (that I need to also repeatedly tell myself) after placing in a writing contest that will help you get over that “accomplishment slump.”

You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Voice Your Accomplishments

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I’m not saying you should go out there and scream LOOK AT HOW GREAT I AM. More like sharing what you accomplished simply because you are proud that you did. If you didn’t think you could do it, or you were afraid to take the plunge, or it was a personal goal of yours to accomplish, then you should definitely talk about it.

Focus on how far you came rather than how far you wanted to go. Think about it, you’re gaining experience all the time (if you really want to be good), and with that experience, any accomplishment you achieve is proof you’re growing. It shows how far you’ve come.

So don’t pay attention to the voice in your head that says you’re not good enough. You’re a work in progress. You just have to be patient.

It’s All a Learning Experience

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Like I was saying, you’re gaining experience. When entering a writing contest, or any contest, you have to do your research. You have to look for what the contest is looking for so you can put your best work out there.

So if you’re just starting out and you place, but you don’t get first prize, consider that as better than earning first prize. If anything, you can learn how to get better and then get the results you want later.

You’ve gained more than what you were hoping for, even if you don’t see it that way. You learned the whole process, while also challenging yourself in new forms or genres, even, and you were brave enough to put your work out there. Now you have the tools, know-how, and courage to get back out there, try again, and do better and better each time.

You’re Not a Failure if You Didn’t Do as well as You Thought You Would

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Lastly, not doing as well as you wanted DOES NOT MAKE YOU A FAILURE. Writing isn’t a one and done, shoot-in-the-dark-and-hope-you-succeed endeavors. For some, it’s a constant hobby that they work to get better at because they enjoy it and want to be better.

For others, it’s a life-long dream, a life-long goal, and a life-long passion that will never go away.

So if you make a mistake, or fail at trying something new, you don’t sit down and think you’ll never be a great writer. That means you truly failed. If you aren’t willing to get back up and try again, fail again, start over and keep going until you get what you want, then you shouldn’t complain at what you got in the first place. Because that’s the best you’ll ever end up doing. You’ll be stuck, never moving forward, only looking back.

Kind of a scary place to stay in, isn’t it?

Want to know more? Click the LEARN MORE button at home. You’ll find some helpful links to my work in journals, which I have started posting here too. You can find me in Ariel Chart, The Cedarville Review, Nailpolish Stories, Bluepepper, 50 Word Stories, The Aurora Journal, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, The Drabble, and Anti-heroin Chic. You can also now find me in Sledgehammer Lit!

Need help proofreading a story? You can find me on Fiverr!

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