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How I Won The 2013 TMC Essay Competition – And What You Can Learn

How I Won The 2013 TMC Essay Competition – And What You Can Learn

Won TMC EssayWoo-hoo! I’m excited! In case you haven’t heard, yours sincerely has emerged the second prize winner in the 2013 TMC Essay Competition.

The circumstances surrounding my participation and emergence as a winner are dramatic – and they present some practical lessons and inspiration for anyone who dreams to live the writer’s life.

Passion breaks barriers

In chapter 1 of my book, Vertical Writing, I talked about how being armed with an unrepentant passion is vital for any writing exercise. Without such burning zeal, you won’t go far in your writing pursuits. I wrote:

I recall once running into some problems with my business about a week to the deadline of the 2013 TMC Essay Contest, and just about the time I was to start writing my entry. I was making several remedial moves, for the next several days. I couldn’t write.

Then came the last day. The required length was 2000 words. And each entrant had to provide footnotes, bibliography and an abstract. It was already past 2:00pm, barely 10 hours left for the contest to wrap up. And I was worn out from running helter-skelter.

I was however resolute. I prayed to God for strength … and I started. I trust my eyes. I knew they wouldn’t contemplate sleep. Not with my burning passion. They didn’t disappoint me.

When it was 9:00pm, I thought perhaps there could be an alternative to working myself out. Moreover, the pang of hunger was hitting me hard. So I put forth a phone call to the contest organizers, asking if I could submit the following day.

‘No way, I’m sorry,’ an empathetic voice responded.

I continued, writing faster. At some minutes past 10:00pm, there was power failure. I felt discouraged, but my passion was strong. I switched on a table lamp, took of my shirt, which was beginning to trap heat, and continued.

Finally, at about 11:30pm, I was fully happy with my entry. But it was the network’s turn to torment me. The contest would close by 11:59pm; and I had battled my modem for 10 minutes with no victory in sight.

I quickly closed my PC into its bag and headed towards the street, going nowhere in particular. To end the long boring tale, I was able to submit my entry by 11:58pm at my friend’s residence two streets away from mine.

But that trouble was avoidable, if…

Note that the above incident was of extraordinary circumstances. I could have avoided the stress if I had written my entry earlier.

A friend asked me on Facebook why I won the second prize and not the first prize. Well, I would never know for sure. If I wanted to excuse my failure at bagging the top prize, I would say it’s because I didn’t write early enough.

But I hate to shelve responsibilities. So I assume the entry of the first prize winner is simply more outstanding.

Generally, I do not wait for deadlines to loom close before I write, and that’s what I recommend.

One precaution … out of many

In chapter 10 of Vertical Writing, one of the tips I stressed is:

If you’ve lost the phone line you submitted in your entry, it’s wise to retrieve it fast. That’s the only means some contest organizers contact winners.

This advice would later prove to be a lifesaver for me. A week before the TMC contest result was released, a beastly rogue carted away my phones.

The contest organizers sent email and text notifications to winners on 28 October. I retrieved my lines on 29. Luckily, I still received the text sent 24 hours earlier. What if they had sent only a text notification and I had been lukewarm about retrieving my lines?

Where do we go now?

It really hurts that I’ve been extremely busy of recent and I’ve not had the time to enter many nice essay contests. And I’ve won just 8 out of the 100 writing prizes I hope to win. But I’m still learning to deal with busyness. I shan’t retire now.

Friends, if you’re serious about improving your writing and putting an end to the mindless trial-and-error approach, you need to be properly guided. If you’ve not, I invite you to join over 1500 writers who have taken my FREE mini writing course, Write Well Challenge.

And if you want a practical, step-by step walkthrough the process of spinning irresistible essays, get my book, Vertical Writing.

Question: What role do you think passion plays in a writer’s pursuits? Please leave a comment setup banner

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Your Right to WriteIf your dream is to be a writer and influence the world, the theoretical and practical insights the author provides have the power to convert your dream to reality.

-- Dr. Mahfouz A. Adedimeji | Fulbright scholar | Senior Lecturer, Unilorin | newspaper columnist

About Muhammed Abdullahi Tosin

Writer. Difference Maker. Entrepreneur. Author, Your Right To Write & Vertical Writing. Winner, 11 Writing Prizes.


  1. Congratulations 🙂
    I’m happy for you.

  2. My mentor, I really thank God for you. Good things do not come so easily. I pray than one day, I will write more and even more than you do. Congratulations.

  3. Oni Muhammad says:

    Mine was fourth. To me i think Allah is Involve. The Person who told me about this essay lost. I was forced to contest and similar to Mr. Abdullah I submitted mine 5pm the closing date.

  4. nice job coach. More grease to ur elbow. Pls i stil have problem gtin vertical writing

  5. Ayeyemi Taofeek Aswagaawy says:

    Its a momentous hour, congratulation boss.
    Passion is the lubricants for one’s zeal. A zeal without passion is incomplete.
    A̶̲̥̅♏ triggered and inspired by your success. One day, I’ll annouce mine herein too.
    With due respect, can yours sincerely share your winning entry with us?
    This will make us keep LEARNING………………………… Thanks in anticipation.

  6. Congratulations!!! 🙂

  7. Congratz,i blev its God.cos sendn an essay at d last minute hardly gets attention

    • Thanks, Sonia! Yes, I agree God destined my victory.

      Although I recommend early submission of one’s entry, I do not think last-minute submissions get ignored. The only risk is that you may encounter some challenges and be unable to submit if you wait till the last minute. But if you’re able to submit even a minute to the deadline, I believe you’ll be in good hands.

  8. Alafara Az says:

    I’m very elated with you when I read this dogmatic pleasure. Perhaps, thank God. This success of yours giganticly propel me to write always. I’ll be delighted if your winning essay is published. I’m very serious to have one of your books. I’m dwelling in Ilorin, I wish to get information very soon. Congrat.! Thanks!

  9. Tohir Olaitan says:

    Congrant scholar,I do not have any reservation to underate the wonders of passion. It is even a force beyond one’s control; It is a reliable instrument to achieve things difficulty.Pardon me to say that I had similar experience on my last essay contest organised by National Orietation Agency. In fact,I submitted like a minute to the dead-line. However a little bit difference is that I am still expecting my result,wish myself all the best.

  10. Lateef oladimeji says:

    Congratulation,more power to your elbow!

  11. Yoosuph Ayodele says:

    Walahi! you are simply a leader, a motivator, a teacher and a coach indeed. i just can’t stop reading your stories. May Allah increase you in knowledge. i look forward to shaking your hands one day. Barakallahu feehi!

  12. First of all let me congratulate you on your success, you really did deserve it. And i admire the way you chased after submitting despite everything working against you. Great work.
    For me passion is EVERYTHING when it comes to writing. It is what makes you keep writing even when you think no one is reading or they think your writing is not good enough. It is what makes you keep learning to fine-tune your art. It is what makes you write even when there is no monetary promise. When everything is lost it is your passion that you are left with.

  13. Congrats for your victory and your words are worth enough to motivate others. Keep going.

  14. Wow!
    Big congratulations bro.
    This is awesome and inspiring. You are indeed a vital scholar.

    My coming across you today is THE BEST GIFT OF THE DAY for me, you may not fully understand what I mean but am very optimistic that time will explain more.

    I realized possessing an innate TALENT in writing which has grown into a PASSION. Though 22 and in 200 level of studies, two manuscripts of my books -a novel and an anthology of over 120 poetic piece. The third work is underway. Despite the present challenge of finance, I have come to realize that what I really NEED to take me to ‘THERE’ is MENTORSHIP AND INSPIRATION from people like you -those who are already on the path I dream to follow.

    Please, do me this favour, please! I am like a child who knows not his right from his left, I SERIOUSLY need mentorship -guidiance, inspiration, direction and tutorship. I want to be your Mentee, please, WOULD YOU BE TO ME WHAT ELIJAH WAS TO ELISHA? Please, don’t say ‘NO’. I sent you a Facebook Friend request yesterday praying that you accept me.

    Meanwhile, I have within the last two weeks entered for 2 National Essay competitions (NCC and NIGERIAN CENTENARY). I dream to win series of the available competitions -just like you. That is why I need people like you in my scholastic adventure because information is power.

    Am looking forward in anticipation for your favourable response. God bless you for me, Amen!

    Yours sincerely,

  15. Godstime says:

    Boss! U are doing a great job here. Passion is a backup, even in our darkest days, it still illuminate our path.

  16. Mojisola Adebola says:

    Talent is something. Passion is something more. Obey it.

  17. coach, congrats! please, when is the next TMC essay contest?

  18. Taofeek Tiamiyu says:

    S/Alaykum. Just reading through ur success in last tmc essay contest barakallahu fih. Sir, more grease to ur elbow.

  19. Arawa Rita says:

    U re a really destiny child lucky one

  20. Nice one MAT. I like this part “But I hate to shelve responsibilities”. If we don’t blame our failures on others, it’s about time we become a better person.

    I have a question however. What HTML code do you use to highlight your blockquote in a different background.

  21. Rotaractor Azubuike Lawal says:

    congrats!my dream has come through for visiting this site. I am writer I need more trainings and sponsors

  22. Tido Elijah says:

    You have been an awesome inspiration to me in my writings…I recently won a writing contest on gender and energy contest by Thanks to your book “your right to write” and ur posts also.You are really doing a great job man.THUMBS UP

  23. Nice one Bro. But pls i wanna make an odd request.

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