I believe writing contests are one of the best ways to grow as a writer.

The Secret to Winning a Writing Contest

Writing contests are practice. They provide focus, accountability, and feedback, all of which you need to become a better writer.

But from personal experience and from talking to hundreds of writers, I also realize writing contests can be intimidating at their best and completely frustrating at their worst. Why do judges choose one story over another one? Why doesn’t a great story win? What can you do to make yours stand out?

In this post, I want to share a secret I’ve learned to winning writing contests, plus give you access to a new book we just released that will help you go deeper into writing process.

When Writing Contests Go Wrong

I used to avoid writing contests. Writing friends would tell me all about the different contests they were entering and I would smile, encourage them, and then do my best to ignore their invitation to join them.

Why did I hate writing contests?

Because I was afraid.

I was afraid that if I lost it would prove that I wasn’t that good of a writer. I was afraid that someone with different tastes than I had would judge my stories and not understand what I was trying to do. I was afraid of failing.

And so I kept my stories to myself, safe in my delusion of my own talent.

The problem was that I wasn’t getting better. I wasn’t growing as a writer.

Here’s How to Win a Writing Contest

As the founder of The Write Practice, I’ve participated in, hosted, and judged dozens of writing contests. I’ve seen a lot of stories win, and a lot more stories, well, not win.

In that time, I’ve learned a lot about what goes into writing a winning story. I’ve also seen a lot of writers make some critical mistakes.

The biggest mistake is having the wrong mindset. Because the only guaranteed way to win a writing contest is to follow the guidelines,write your best piece, submit it, and then do it again and again until you win.

Unfortunately, the only secret to winning a writing contest is your determination and grit.

As Ray Bradbury said, “Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write fifty-two bad short stories in a row.”

Don’t overthink it. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Just write. Submit. Repeat. If you do it, I promise you won’t just win a writing contest, you’ll become a much better writer.

It’s The Write Practice’s 5th Anniversary!

In just a few weeks, The Write Practice will celebrate our fifth anniversary.

Five years of sharing our best writing wisdom, tips, and tricks. Five years of creating the best online writing resources we can. Five years of getting to know an incredible community of writers (you!).

This is a really big occasion, and we want to celebrate it well. In the next few weeks, you’ll be seeing a lot of awesome things rolling out.

How to Win a Writing Contest Book Cover MEDIUMAnd here’s the first one: today, I’m so excited to announce the release of our newest book, How to Win a Writing Contest!

I’ve shared a lot of my writing contest wisdom on this site over the years. Now, I’ve gathered together some of my best resources, as well as some all-new material based on my years of writing contest experience.

I can’t wait to share with you what I’ve learned and hear how this helps you to write a story you’re proud of, enter it in a contest, and, hopefully, win!

There’s no catch. No trick. Just a free book.

Just click here and let me know the email you’d like me to send it to, and I’ll get it straight to your inbox.

The book is available on Amazon for $9.99. But for now, as The Write Practice’s fifth anniversary gift to you and as a giant thanks for being part of this community, it’s free for you to download.

Click here to get your free copy.

Enjoy the book!

Do you ever feel intimidated or frustrated when you enter a writing contest? Let me know in the comments section.


Find a writing contest, read their guidelines, and write a new story to submit to it. Remember: this is practice! Don’t take it too seriously!

You can find a list of writing contests I put together here. You can also find out when we launch new writing contests at The Write Practice by signing up for our waiting list here.

Good luck and let me know how it goes!

Joe Bunting
Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. You can follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).
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