How to Win the Shit Out of a Writing Contest (in Ten Easy Steps)

  1. Drink a bunch of eggs before you outline your first draft. Yeah, drink ‘em. No frying that shit for you. All your meals come in liquid form now, preferably with whey protein or vitamin powders mixed in.


  1. Get addicted to steroids and cut the sleeves off of all your t-shirts. You gotta show off your fucking awesome biceps and crippling carpal tunnel while typing that masterpiece.


  1. Recruit a friend to rub your shoulders while you write in a public venue—coffee shops and libraries work especially well. To increase your odds of winning the contest, the aforementioned friend may also shout things like “feel the burn” or “you got this!” If a barista or librarian shushes your friend, be sure to get really fucking aggressive, then use your anger as motivation for finishing the manuscript.


  1. Make sure you establish a rivalry with another writer. Since most modern writing contests are faceless processes held over the Internet, you’ll need to actively cultivate your own face-to-face rivalry. The easiest way is to convince an acquaintance to enter the contest, then turn that person into an enemy (slash ties, call a shithead, spit in face). If possible, make sure the rival writer has more publication credits than you—an underdog scenario is ideal for winning any contest.


  1. Play “Eye of the Tiger” while you revise. Then continue to replay the song several times per day. Play it at your friend’s birthday party. Put it on a fucking loop at the office. Blast it when you’re on a date. Make sure people have to shout over “Eye of the Tiger” everywhere you go.


  1. Enter a lesser contest before the big shebang. If you want to win the final showdown, you must lose a preliminary contest beforehand. The only thing better than an underdog story is a comeback story.


  1. When you’re printing a hardcopy, make sure you do it in the most extreme way possible. Scream at the computer and tell the print dialogue box to load faster. If there’s a paper jam, punch the goddamn printer. If you run out of ink, spit blood into the empty cartridge until it prints red. Scream some more. Nothing’s going to stop you!


  1. Ask your writing group to review the final draft, then belittle their bullshit suggestions because you’re a champion and they are fucking losers. According to every self-help blog ever written, “winning is ninety percent confidence.”


  1. Brag about that shit on Facebook and Twitter. Let everybody know that you just submitted a masterpiece, so they better withdraw their shitty contest entries now. You are going to win; there’s no doubt (see previous note about confidence).


  1. Don’t even bother checking the contest results. You already know you won. You can list the contest on your curriculum vitae and rub it in everybody’s stunned faces. If the contest money never arrives, it’s probably an error on the publisher’s part because they can’t get their shit together. You’re a fucking champion, and everybody knows it. Congratulations!


James R. Gapinski works as an adjunct Jedi, collects 8-bit video games, and edits The Conium Review. He also has a cat, which seems like a standard ingredient in most writer bio statements.

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