5 Writing Contest Mistakes To Avoid – A Tribute To NFL Bloopers

Football season is charging toward the Superbowl with fan fever at a break neck pace. I bleed gold and purple for the Vikings, so my team is out of the playoffs, but still I love to follow the game.

Whether you like football or not, NFL Bloopers show the side of the game that we all enjoy and every player avoids. No matter how hard professionals try, they still make mistakes. It’s part of the game.

Writers make mistakes. Plain and simple. We also look for feedback through contests, hoping to get that great invitation to send in our work.

Here are 5 Writing Contest Mistakes To Avoid:

1. Using Writing Contests As A litmus test. Writing contests are for feedback. If you go into a writing contest to see whether or not you should try to be a writer, you will be disappointed. The feedback you get is meant to improve your writing. It is not geared to bolster your courage to start a new career.

2. Expecting to be loved instead of critiqued. We all look for validation as writers. We hope to final, or win a contest we enter. There is nothing wrong with high hopes as long as you keep your feet on the ground.

3. Letting it consume you. I have to admit, I have been the one counting the hours until the finalists are announced. But while I watched the clock, valuable writing time slipped through my fingers. Try to avoid this trap as you get into the contest season.

4. Entering so many contests your work isn’t polished as well throughout. Why is it that some writers final in contest after contest, but never land an agent or a contract? Because their first three chapters are amazing and the rest of the manuscript lacks the same polish. If you enter a contest, take the time to polish the rest of the manuscript.

5. Taking every single judge’s comment and applying it. Contest judges are an amazing asset to a writer’s arsenal. It is important to keep in mind that the judges have your best interest at heart, but there are some elements of voice that you must protect. Instead of changing everything to a judge’s opinion, write down the common threads that the judges recommended and apply those components.

Writing contests are a great way for writers to improve their craft. Entering a contest in the right frame of mind will insure the best results for your writing career.

What mistakes have you seen writers make when entering a writing contest?




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 “5 Writing Contest Mistakes To Avoid – A Tribute To NFL Bloopers

  1. Naomi Musch says:

    Excellent, excellent reminders!

  2. Michelle, I love your comments on common mistakes for contests. I appreciate the information.Thanks, Shirley Olson

  3. Identify totally with #3. lol Great post, Michelle!

  4. I can’t watch the video now, but I’m going to come back to watch it later. 🙂

    Great reminders, Michelle, and definitely things to avoid. I’ve not had tons of contest experience–I’ve only entered contests two years, in 2010 and then last year in 2012. 2010 was a great year for me. 2012 was…interesting…I had a submission that received high scores from a couple judges and then an incredibly low score. Like, if it was a grade in school I’d be flunking! The judge did not like a SINGLE thing about that entry. Well, two months later, that manuscript sold.

    So, I think it’s really important to take scores with a grain of salt. Look for commonalities in the judge’s comments but don’t give them more weight than you should. And even more than that, don’t let contests and judges’ feedback be where you find your worth as an author.

  5. jackielayton says:

    You are so creative.
    I’ve noticed some friends think doing well or winning a contest automatically means a contract, and that’s not always the case.
    Thanks for sharing!

  6. I think your number five is so important, Michelle-looking for commonalities. I’ve entered a ton of art competitions, but only a couple of writing ones. Sometimes, comments can be polar opposites. I think you need to keep a strong sense of yourself, be true to your own voice. But if you notice a trend, pay attention.

  7. […] 5 Writing Contest Mistakes To Avoid – A Tribute To NFL Bloopers. […]

  8. Michelle Lim says:

    I just love football.

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