How To Win a Writing Challenge and Be Published
COMPEL offers many wonderful writing opportunities to its members that I have had the opportunity of being a part of. I love the mixture of excitement, joy, nervousness and motivation when a challenge is announced. And every time, I ask myself the question: “How can I write a winning devotion?” We participate in writing challenges, whether with COMPEL or other opportunities, because we hope to win and be published, don’t we?
So I was exhilarated when I got the email that my devotion had been selected for the COMPEL Freedom from Worry Devotion Challenge. After the feelings settled, I read my devotion again, thinking about my process and trying to figure out why my devotion had been selected this time. I want to share with you several lessons I learned from winning this challenge.
#1 Following the guidelines carefully.
The first thing I did was to make myself acquainted with the guidelines and carefully choose the topic and the focus verse. I thought about several potential topics, so I prayed about them before choosing to write the devotion titled “Dwelling in Safety,” addressing the fear of the future. It is best to choose a topic you are familiar with, something you have experienced as a problem or struggle but have also received God’s answer and provision in this area.
#2 Praying throughout the creative process.
I prayed in the beginning about the topic, and I prayed during the creative process. I asked God for the right message, the right words and tone. It is crucial to invite God into the creative process. Sometimes we write a devotion easily, and the words just flow, but sometimes we need to stop frequently and ask God what to include next to bring the most benefits to the readers.
#3 Thinking about the reader.
When I was crafting the devotion, I thought about how best to convey my experience, but I also asked myself how this message would comfort the reader. I wanted to pack a strong takeaway for the reader with a clear message of specific comfort and encouragement. The more specific the solution we offer for the particular struggle we address, the more the reader can benefit from our writing. My intention in the devotion was to draw the reader to a specific solution on how to handle the fear of the future by unpacking my focus verse.
Of course, it is also recommendable to read regularly published devotions or writings that tie into our particular challenge to learn and hone our craft. We should not forget the editing and polishing process too.
However, the most important thing for me is to follow God’s leading, to involve Him in the creative process and to adhere as closely as possible to the guidelines. And even if we don’t win a particular challenge, we are still winners because we have taken the time to practice our craft and delivered a message God has put on our heart. We never know how God will use our obedience to Him with our writing.
What lessons have you learned from participating in writing challenges? We’d love to hear any tips you have!
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