7 Things to Do When You Didn’t Win the Writing Contest


If you wanna be a successful writer, you should practice different types of writing. Have you entered your writing in contests? Here are seven things to do when you didn’t win… 


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Before the tips, a quip:

“To research this book, I entered exactly 80 contests in 18 months, but only achieved three First Prizes, one Second Prize, and one Third,” writes John Reid in Write Ways to Win Writing Contests.





Yikes, check out those odds! Out of 80 writing contests, he won five prizes. There, my fellow scribes, is the first thing to do when you didn’t win the writing contest: remember the odds are against you. Don’t let your self-esteem as a writer plummet just because you didn’t win a writing contest!

To learn how to win more often, click on Write Ways to Win Writing Contests by John Reid. And, read on for seven things to do when you didn’t win the writing contest…

7 Things to Do When You Didn’t Win the Writing Contest

1. Find another writing contest. Tweak that essay, short story, poem or haiku and turn it right around! I just looked on the Places for Writers website, and found a writing contest that pays $1,000 with an October 15 deadline. Unfortunately for me, it’s fiction – but the point is, you need to take your “losing” entries and keep submitting until they win. Successful writers never give up!

2. Research writing magazines. My “losing” entry may make a sweet little creative nonfiction piece for The Writer or Bylines. If you didn’t win a writing contest, repurpose your piece until it finds a good home.






3. Tear your writing apart. Before you send your story or article to other writing contests or magazines, compare your entry to the contest rules. Did you follow the guidelines? Is your piece really a first-place winner? Put your “judge’s glasses” on, and look at your contest entry through his or her eyes. If you’re afraid to do this, read 5 Tips for Coping With Writing Fears.

4. Focus on the writing skills you gained. Even if you didn’t win the writing contest, you practiced your creativity, skills, and discipline – and have become a better writer. Focus on how the process benefited you, and made you a more successful writer.

5. Repurpose your story or article for other markets. Repurposing your articles and books so they can be re-shaped for different markets is one of the keys to being a successful writer. Repurposing your writing will direct your energy and creativity (instead of letting you wallow in the muck and the mire of despair!). My post on selling your reprint articles will help you with this. Don’t be glum because you didn’t win the writing contest — be proactive!

6. Study the winning entries. The writing contest I didn’t win (but should have 🙂 ) will publish an anthology of all the winning entries, plus other stuff. A successful writer would study the first and second creative nonfiction prize winning entries. What did they do that I didn’t? What was their topic? What writing techniques did they use? What point of view, what themes, what characterization?

7. Post your entry on your blog. This can be a great thing to do if you didn’t win the writing contest — but remember that some contests consider a piece “published” if it’s online. Post your piece on your blog only if you’re sure you won’t be sending it to other writing contests or magazines.

What do you think — do you have any tips or thoughts about not winning writing contests? 

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