Thursday, December 29, 2011


For every contest winner there are dozens, hundreds, even thousands of competitors who have not won. I think this is awesome, and an extremely valuable opportunity.

This is not a 'winning isn't everything' or 'it's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game' type of mentality. You lost. That sucks. Now what?

Losses in my mind serve two functions - 1 - revealing your weaknesses, 2 - strengthening your character.

Revealing Weaknesses

When I fall short in a contest, I try to assess what happened with rigorous honesty.
>Did I truly put in my best effort?
>How many times did I edit or rewrite my piece?
>Did I stray too far from the theme?
>What did the winning piece have that mine did not?

As Henry Ford says: Failure is the opportunity to start again only more intelligently.

When I competed in the NYC Midnight challenge my first time through, I did not do much editing, I did not really know what flash fiction was, and I had only written a few pieces prior to that contest. I did not do so well.
(Story1, Story2)

Next time through, I looked at each piece a few times, had read flash pretty extensively, and had a much larger portfolio of work. I did much better, making it to the final round.
( Story1, Story2, Story3, Story4)

Strengthening Your Character

Have you ever thought your idea was so fantastic, it would be the next Harry Potter/Twilight series?
What happens when that didn't work out?

To be as successful as those two, you might as well buy a lottery ticket. The writing world is full of rejection, and to end up getting published, it may surprise you that you might actually not need to be a talented writer. Rather, you need to be a persistent writer. The writer who is not used to rejection, may give up on their hopes and dreams and feel that their efforts are worthless. The writer who has faced rejection before (say losing a few writing competitions) will be able to take their lumps and move on. There's no time for wallowing. Just get back in the trenches and move on.

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