During my thirty-plus years of writing, I never entered a writing contest… until recently. Why not? One word—fear. As a child, I was usually one of the last children who got picked at recess for softball and other competitive activities. Oh, I did win a few board games and such, so I’m only speaking in general terms. But the truth is, I simply wasn’t very good at much.
So, when it came to writing contests, I shied away from them. I feared that losing would cause me to quit writing altogether, which I did not want to do. In recent years, however, I’ve entered a few. Have I won any? Nah! But my novel, Vengeance & Betrayal, was a finalist once. Because I have lots of bylines and publishing credits now, losing doesn’t bother me. Hey, winning wouldn’t be so bad either.
Contests, I’ve learned, are a great motivation for doing our best work. Sometimes, the judges will give us a critique to help us improve. And if we’re a finalist or winner, it encourages us to keep at it. But if we lose, well, don’t get discouraged. Learn from that and work harder at the craft. I’ve discovered that contests are fun!
Having said that, because I’m a Christian as well as a writer, I see my writing as a ministry. If God has called us to be writers, we can enter contests, of course, especially those that involve our published works. However, our motivation and purpose should go beyond winning them. If all we’re concerned about is winning contests, we miss the point of our calling. Though they are great and can be rewarding, eternal rewards are in store for those who write for Christ’s kingdom from a heart that seeks to win others to Him.
So, let’s check our motivations. For whom do we write? For ourselves and earthly rewards or for Christ?