Writing Contest: What It Is And Isn’t

Today is the day that many of you hear whether or not you made the semifinals for the Genesis Contest. I know what it is like waiting by the phone and answering it many times only to find out it is a sales call or a reminder of your dental appointment (like anyone wants to be reminded of that).

By 8 a.m. you have chewed your fingernails down to the nubbins and promised your mother-in-law she could come and stay for a week in June without even realizing it.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Because we want to be validated in our writing journey. Because we hope to get noticed by the right editor or agent. Because we want to win.

It is so easy to get caught up in the contest that we take our success or failure to final as a sign of our own personal success. I’ve been there and discovered something important.

Success is not measured in contest wins! It is measured in the daily work to perfect your writing craft before your Heavenly Father who has given you the talent that He wants to develop in you.

So what is a writing contest?

*The opportunity to be critiqued by skilled professionals.

*The chance to improve your writing skills through the suggestions of those who know the craft.

*A channel God sometimes uses to help you connect with those in the writing industry when it is in His timing.

*An ideal time to grow thick skin.

*An opportunity to cheer for those who achieve recognition whether you are among them or not.

*An opportunity to encourage others who didn’t do as well as they hoped.

What isn’t a writing contest?

*The event that determines whether you will actually be able to become a successful writer.

*A reflection of your overall success as a person.

*An opportunity to grumble about the judges or other contestants who did better than you.

*Something you do solely to gain the approval of others or God.

*A reason to quit chasing your dream to be a writer.

I know for many of you today is a day of waiting by the phone. I entered the Genesis, too. I know how you feel. Last year I let discouragement set in after the contest season because I had my eyes on the wrong goal.

Today, whether the phone rings or not, whether you semifinal or not, God is still the Author and Finisher of our faith. The Giver of Dreams and the One who knows His timing for our journey on the writing path.

While you wait by the phone, wait for His voice to encourage you in a way that a phone call never could. Encourage a friend who is waiting too and cheer for those who God has given the opportunity at this time in their journey to do well in a contest.

Some of my favorite writing contests:

ACFW Genesis Contest 

My Book Therapy Frasier Contest

RWA: Touched By Love Contest

The Phoenix Rattler Contest

 What wisdom have you learned about writing contests or other competitions in your life?


About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

14 thoughts on “Writing Contest: What It Is And Isn’t

  1. Beth K. Vogt says:

    Such a timely post, Michelle. And I love your balanced perspective.

  2. alena says:

    Well said!

  3. Michelle Lim says:

    Thanks, Beth. It took some time for me to learn this perspective.

  4. My Bible verse for today: “They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust in the Lord to care for them.” Ps. 112:7
    Whatever happens today, God will use… if I trust Him.
    Today I’m going about my everyday things…writing ministry, work on my new WIP (thanks to some very good suggestions last night!)

  5. Melissa Tagg says:

    Seriously good post, Michelle. Of all the things you listed, I think my biggest temptation is seeing contest results as a sign of approval or validation. I mean, if a person gets good scores, they should be happy and should feel validated. But it’s not the be-all/end-all validation. In the end, nothing validates us like Christ’s love…His purpose…His calling. Just by creating us, instilling that storytelling desire in us, He’s given us a piece of Himself…that’s the best validation of all.

  6. Amy Hahn says:

    Fingers crossed for you and all who have entered…thanks for putting perspective on the contest circut!

  7. Michelle Lim says:

    Thanks for the well wishes, Amy!

  8. Thanks, Michelle! I definitely needed to hear this. I really want to start defining myself by how God sees me: whose I am, not what I do.

  9. Michelle Lim says:

    That is so important, Lindsay. I have to work on that sometimes, too.

  10. jeannemt says:

    Such a great post, Michelle. 🙂 It’s hard not to hope for validation from contests. I know not to base my value as a person on how well I do/don’t do in contests. I try to keep my perspective focused on what I can learn from those who read my entry. Hopefully, I can maintain that as I enter future contests. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your wise thoughts!

  11. Michelle Lim says:

    The distance from the head to the heart is sometimes hard to navigate. What we know and what we feel often don’t gel. I will be praying for you in the contest season Jeanne and wishing you blessings.

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