Lessons from Losing

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Last year I entered the Writer’s Digest Annual writing competition. It provided me an opportunity to submit my writing in front of a panel of experts. Unfortunately I am an infamous procrastinator and waited until the last minute to start working on my short story. I wanted to submit part of my novel but wasn’t sure how that would affect ownership rights. Finally I came up with a short story for the ‘romance” section and although I wasn’t in love with it, I reluctantly submitted it. I am an emotional writer; I have to be connected to what I am writing. For years I could only write poetry if I was in an extreme emotional state.
Unfortunately I did not win the competition and I can’t say I’m surprised. It wasn’t a strong piece and I wasn’t proud of it. One day I will post what I submitted when I am brave enough for your honest feedback. Instead of wallowing in my loss, I learned a few things during that experience that I plan to use in the future:
Use your network: I am always saying this to my younger sister. If you know people in your field of interest, don’t be afraid to reach out to them. All they can say is a simple “yes or no.” If these people are your friends, even better! When I submitted my short story I did not have any friends look it over; sometimes (usually) it’s nice to get a fresh perspective. I had my best friend proofread a piece for me recently and it was such a great experience to get some honest and much needed feedback.
Form a support group: One of my goals is to form a group with which to share my work; hence why I started this site. I also joined a writing meet up to connect with other writers in my area. Writing can be such a solitary act and it’s nice to be around people who can relate. Plus you can share war stories!
Do your homework: Whether you are a fashion stylist or freelance writer, hone your craft. Study the greats in your field, take classes, and seek constructive feedback. How can you grow if you don’t do anything? Even the most talented people admit to hard work. No one is an exception.
Although I did not “win” the competition, it showed me that I just have to work harder and come back stronger.
What are some of your lessons from losing?

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