The writer essay contest

The writer essay contest

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Contests

Any writer may enter our contests, regardless of residence. Authors retain all rights. The entry fee for all contests is $25, or $20 for TWWOA members.
The entry fee is payable online through PayPal, check, or money order.
The judges will pick the winners about 6 weeks after the contest deadline.
Scroll down for submission guidelines.

2022 WRITING CONTESTS

Awards for all contests:

1st Place: Your choice of a 2 night stay at our Mountain Muse B&B (at a “safe” future date); or 3 free workshops; or 50 pages (or 10 poems for poetry contests) line-edited and revised by our editorial staff.
2nd Place: Two free workshops; or 35 pages (or 8 poems) line-edited.
3rd Place: One free workshop; or 25 pages (or 5 poems) line-edited.
10 Honorable Mentions

ANNUAL POETRY COMPETITION
Deadline Extended: Postmarked or emailed by April 30, 2022

Guidelines:
Submit up to 3 poems of two pages or less, emailed or regular post. Pages should be paper clipped, with your name, address, email, phone and title of work on the first page. Double-space, and use 12 point font.
The entry fee is $25 for every three poems. Multiple entries are accepted. Please make check or money order payable to The Writers’ Workshop, and mail to:
Memoirs Contest, 387 Beaucatcher Road, Asheville, NC 28805.
The e ntry fee is also payable at our Registration Page.
Emailed submissions may be sent in Word Doc to writersw@gmail.com , with “Poetry Contest” in the subject.
Entry fee is payable at our Registration Page.

HUMOR ME WRITING CONTEST
Deadline: Postmarked or emailed by June 30, 2022

PLEASE NOTE: FOR THIS NEW CONTEST, PAY THE ENTRY FEE BY CLICKING HERE: Donate Now!

Guidelines:
Email or snail-mail a humorous story (fiction or non-fiction) of 5,000 words or less. Use of witty, dry humor is encouraged. Pages should be paper clipped, with your name, address, phone and title of work on the first page. Double-space, and use 12 point font. Mention if this is fiction or not.
The entry fee per story is $25/$20 Workshop members. Multiple entries are accepted.
Make check or money order payable to The Writers’ Workshop, and mail to:
Humor Contest, 387 Beaucatcher Road, Asheville, NC 28805.
Emailed submissions may be sent in Word doc attachment to writersw@gmail.com, with “Humor Contest” in the subject.

HARD TIMES WRITING CONTEST
Deadline: Postmarked or emailed by August 30, 2022

Guidelines:
Write about a difficult experience in your life, how you overcame this obstacle, and how you were changed by it. Winning stories will be chosen for originality and creative writing style.
Stories should not exceed 5,000 words (double-spaced, 12 point font).
Your name, address, email, phone and title of work should appear on the first page. Enclose the reading fee of $25/$20 Workshop members per entry. Multiple entries are accepted. Please make check or money order payable to Writers’ Workshop, and send to: Hard Times Contest, 387 Beaucatcher Road, Asheville, N.C. 28805.
Emailed submissions in Word Doc may be sent to writersw@gmail.com, with “Hard Times Contest” in the subject. Entry fee is payable online at www.twwoa.org


LITERARY FICTION CONTEST
Deadline: Postmarked or emailed by Sept. 30, 2022

Guidelines:
Submit a short story or chapter of a novel of 5,000 words or less. Pages should be paper clipped, with your name, address, phone and title of work on the first page. Double-space, and use 12 point font.
The entry fee is $25 per story. Multiple entries are accepted. Make check or money order of $25 payable to The Writers’ Workshop, and mail to: Fiction Contest, 387 Beaucatcher Road, Asheville, NC 28805. Or pay at our Registration Page.
Emailed submissions in Word Doc may be sent to writersw@gmail.com, with “Fiction Contest” in the subject. Entry fee is payable
at our Registration Page.

ANNUAL MEMOIRS COMPETITION
Deadline: Postmarked or emailed by Dec. 30, 2022

Guidelines:
Submit a memoir of 5,000 words or less. Pages should be paper clipped, with your name, address, email, phone and title of work on the first page. Double-space, and use 12 point font.
The entry fee is $25 per memoir. Multiple entries are accepted. Please make check or money order of $25 payable to The Writers’ Workshop, and mail to:
Memoirs Contest, 387 Beaucatcher Road, Asheville, NC 28805.
The e ntry fee is also payable at our Registration Page.
Emailed submissions may be sent in Word Doc to writersw@gmail.com , with “Memoirs Contest” in the subject. Entry fee is payable at our Registration Page.

The Best Writing Contests of 2022

Submit a short story based on 1 of 5 weekly prompts. Winners get $250.

Showing 479 contests

The Reedsy Prompts Contest

Respond to one of Reedsy’s weekly writing prompt newsletters with a short story for the chance to win $250 and be featured on the Reedsy Blog!

Top prize
Additional prizes

Publication on Reedsy Blog

Entry requirements

Deadline: December 31, 2022

Genres

Fiction, Short Story

ScienceQuest NextGen Science Literary Writing Competition

Established to recognize and encourage creative writing and provide a platform for publication, this science literary competition is open to original and previously unpublished short stories in the English language by a writer of any nationality, living anywhere in the world. Writing samples submitted must be from the genres of: Science fiction, Dystopian, Futuristic, Fantasy, Paranormal ​​ We accept essay, short story, and novel submissions up to 15 pages in length, double-spaced.

Top prize
Additional prizes

Consultation with literary agent Leticia Gomez

Entry requirements

Deadline: July 15, 2022

Genres

Essay, Fantasy, Novel, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Short Story, Young Adult

Best Indie Book Award

Best Indie Book Award

The annual Best Indie Book Award® (or BIBA®) is an international literary awards contest recognizing self-published and independently published authors from all over the world. Entries are limited to independently (indie) published books, including those from small presses, e-book publishers, and self-published authors.

Top prize
Entry requirements

Deadline: October 01, 2022

Genres

Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Novel, Novella, Poetry, Romance, Science Fiction, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult

Oxford Flash Fiction Prize

Oxford Flash Fiction

Write yourself into history and become one of the greats with the Oxford Flash Fiction Prize. For centuries, the greats have come to Oxford to ink masterpieces. Now, in one of the oldest towns, where the history of the English language can be traced back to its ancient streets, we want to celebrate one of the newest forms in literature – flash fiction.

Top prize
Additional prizes

2nd Prize: $243 | 3rd Prize: $122

Entry requirements

Deadline: August 31, 2022

Genres

Christian, Crime, Fantasy, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, LGBTQ, Mystery, Suspense, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller, Travel

Hysteria Writing Competition

The Hysteria Writing Competition showcases writers from all over the world. Past winners have come from countries as far apart as UK, Canada, Australia and Nigeria. Its purpose is to help writers get their work in front of a new, different audience.

Top prize
Additional prizes

Publication in Hysteria 9 anthology

Entry requirements

Deadline: August 31, 2022

Genres

Flash Fiction, Poetry, Short Story

THE MONO POETRY PRIZE 2022

We are thrilled to invite you to enter our 2022 Poetry Prize judged this year by Joelle Taylor. This competition is completely unthemed. Why? Because we want you to go off-piste, totally off the beaten track. Word limit? You choose. Line count? Enough. You can enter up to three poems at a cost of £6 per poem (just adjust the quantity at checkout if necessary).

Top prize
Additional prizes

2nd: $243 | 3rd: $122

Entry requirements

Deadline: August 01, 2022

Genres

2nd Annual WCWF Writing Contest

Wine Country Writers’ Festival

Fire up those pens and get those unpublished stories and poems submitted to WCWF 2nd Annual Writing Contest. Three winners in each category, publication in Anthology, and your own copy. Entries: $15 or two for $25.

Top prize
Additional prizes

2nd Place: $75 | 3rd Place: $50

Entry requirements

Deadline: July 29, 2022

Genres

Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Non-fiction, Poetry, Romance, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult

Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred

Center for Interfaith Relations

For over thirteen years, the Poetry of the Sacred contest has received thousands of submissions touching every aspect of spiritual life. Poetry has been called ‘the language of the soul’ and this annual contest encourages poets to awaken the reader to the deep meaning and beauty of a contemplative life. Poems are evaluated based on literary excellence, authenticity and spiritual tenor.

Top prize
Additional prizes

Three honorable mentions to receive $100

Entry requirements

Deadline: August 01, 2022

Genres

Tales By Moonlight

The Tales By Moonlight Contest is a novella writing competition. The genre for the competition is fiction and the theme is magic. Contest entries can range from 7,500 – 40,000 words in length. Winners will be decided by a public voting system.

Top prize
Additional prizes

Publication on platform

Entry requirements

Deadline: September 15, 2022

Genres

Fantasy, Fiction, Novella

Time Travelers Contest

The theme of this contest is Time travel. To respect the theme of the contest, the main character or characters of your entry must go through a change of temporality and must have a significant impact on the plot. This change must occur in the story before the end of the fourth chapter and must be mentioned in your book description.

Top prize
Additional prizes

2nd: €750 3rd: €250

Entry requirements

Deadline: May 25, 2022 (Expired)

Genres

Fantasy, Fiction, Novel, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Beagle North Competition

The theme for Beagle North’s short story competition changes quarterly. – Your story must be no longer than 2,500 words (not including the title) – Only one story permitted per person, each quarter – Stories must be in English

Top prize

£20 Amazon Voucher

Additional prizes

£10 Amazon voucher for 2nd and 3rd place

Entry requirements

Deadline: June 30, 2022

Genres

Crime, Fantasy, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Short Story, Thriller

M&P High School Essay Contest

McMillan & Phillips Digital Creative Agency

McMillan & Phillips is an award winning creative digital agency on the search for the next generation of marketers who want to shake up the status quo, and usher in a new era. The contest is open to United States high school students in grades twelve attending public, private, parochial, or home schools.

Top prize

3 month remote editorial internship with M&P

Additional prizes

2nd place: $155 USD | 3rd place: one year subscription to Sanvello

Entry requirements

Deadline: May 16, 2022 (Expired)

Genres

Black Voices in Children’s Literature

Free Spirit Publishing

Seeking Black Midwestern writers 18 years and older to submit an original fiction or nonfiction children’s story for a picture book. Manuscripts 300–800 words (ages 4–8) or 50–125 words (ages 0–4) in length. Must feature contemporary Black characters and culture.

Top prize
Additional prizes

Meeting with Strive and Free Spirit; 2nd $500; 3rd $250, t-shirt and totebag for all winners

Entry requirements

Deadline: July 24, 2022

Genres

Fiction, Short Story, Young Adult

The Poetry.com Contest

Poetry.com offers monthly contests for poets worldwide to gain motivation, inspiration and exposure, while building passion and enjoyment for the written creative process! How are winners chosen? Our contest boasts a clever twist: poems remain anonymous whilst applicants vote on what they believe should be the winning entry.

Top prize
Additional prizes

2nd place: 300 USD | 3rd place: 200 USD | Runner up personalized Poetry.com mug

Entry requirements

Deadline: December 31, 2022

Genres

Rotary Club of Stratford Short Story Contest

Rotary Club of Stratford

Tell us your story! Short story (no more than 2500 words) contest open to residents of Ontario and Michigan; both adult and youth categories.

Top prize
Additional prizes

Adults: 2nd $250; 3rd $100 | Youth: 1st $250; 2nd $100; 3rd $50

Entry requirements

Deadline: June 30, 2022

Genres

Elegant Literature’s Contest For New Writers

We are the first magazine to pay professional rates and only accept submissions from new writers. We don’t allow pros to submit, so your work has a better chance to be selected. Each month we hold a contest based on a short fiction prompt. You write a wonderful story and enter the contest. We choose the winner who receives the grand prize. We also choose the best stories, pay the authors above-professional rates, and publish them in our magazine.

Top prize
Additional prizes

Paid publication, 25 x $20 USD.

Entry requirements

Deadline: June 30, 2022

Genres

Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult

Four Line Poem

Write a four line poem that has a specific syllable count. The first line has 1 syllable, the second line has 5 syllables, the third line has 5 syllables, and the last line has 9 syllables. The subject can be anything.

Top prize
Entry requirements

Deadline: December 22, 2022

Genres

YeahWrite Super Challenge

The Super Challenge is a prompted, 48-hour flash competition alternating between fiction and creative nonfiction. Prompts are released on a Friday night; writers have 48 hours to craft a response in 1,000 words or fewer. Professional editors read all entries and provide detailed feedback on each. The top writers move on to round 2 with new prompts.

Top prize
Additional prizes

$100 for second place | $50 for third place

Entry requirements

Deadline: December 23, 2022

Genres

Essay, Flash Fiction, Non-fiction

March Micro Writing Competition

We accept: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Each month has a theme. You have just 100 words to write something interesting, unique, and impactful based on the theme. Entry to your first contest is £3, after that you can enter all subsequent contests for free each month. You can get peer feedback on your entry too. The theme this month is: Yellow/Orange.

Top prize
Additional prizes

Publication on our website

Entry requirements

Deadline: March 14, 2022 (Expired)

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry

Rhina Espaillat Poetry Award

This award honors the achievements of the great Dominican-American poet, translator, and public school teacher Rhina Polonia Espaillat. The Rhina Espaillat Poetry Award will be awarded for an original poem of not more than fifty lines that reflects her lyricism, empathy, and ability to find grace in everyday events of life.

Top prize
Additional prizes

Publication in Plough Quarterly. Two finalists will receive $250

Entry requirements

Deadline: March 30, 2023

Genres

Geminga: $250 for Tiny Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, or Art

Authors and artists eligible. Sunspot Lit’s Geminga contest honors the power of the small. No restrictions on theme or category. $250 cash, publication for the winner, and publication offered to runners-up and finalists. Enter as many times as you like, but only one piece per submission.

Top prize
Additional prizes

Publication in digital and print

Entry requirements

Deadline: June 30, 2022

Genres

Crime, Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Poetry, Romance, Science Fiction, Script Writing, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult

The Dante Rossetti Awards

Chanticleer Book Reviews and Media

The Dante Rossetti Awards Categories are: Contemporary Young Adult; SFF & Paranormal; Dystopian/Edgy/Urban; Mystery/Thriller/Suspense; Historical Young Adult; YA Adventure/Romance. The Chanticleer Prize Package includes: A Prize Ribbon to use in promotion at book signings and book festivals Digital Badges for display on your website or incorporation into book covers Book stickers to identify your print books to bookstore shoppers as they browse.

Top prize
Entry requirements

Deadline: August 30, 2022

Genres

Fiction, Mystery, Novel, Romance, Science Fiction, Suspense, Thriller, Young Adult

Travel Writing Award

Ottawa Tourism offers an annual $500 CAD prize for outstanding travel writing featuring Canada’s Capital Region. Eligible entries include items in English or in French that have appeared in magazines, newspapers, or online media in 2022 that highlight Ottawa as a travel destination.

Top prize
Entry requirements

Deadline: February 03, 2023

Genres

National Geographic Traveller Travel Writing Competition

Do you have a way with words? Love to regale your friends and family with tales from your travels? If that’s a yes, then our Travel Writing Competition is just the thing for you. For your chance to win, simply write no more than 500 words on an inspiring travel experience, which could be anything from mountaineering in Patagonia to a hike in Pembrokeshire.

Top prize

Luxury expedition cruise to Greenland for two people

Entry requirements

Deadline: July 23, 2022

Genres

On the Far Side Contest

Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Romance Writers

Write fantasy, futuristic, or paranormal? Then the On the Far Side Contest is for you!! Welcome dragons, witches, ghosties, psychics, vampires, shapeshifters, unicorns, and any creature your imagination can conjure up in a galaxy far, far away, in a time long past, or in your very own backyard.

Top prize
Entry requirements

Deadline: July 31, 2022

Genres

Fiction, Novel, Romance

The Masters Review Short Story Contest

The Masters Review

Summer is for Short Stories! The Masters Review’s Short Story Award for New Writers is a bi-annual contest that recognizes the best fiction from today’s emerging writers. The winner receives a $3,000 prize and agency review, and their story will be published online in late winter/early spring. Second and third place finalists will be awarded publication, agency review and $300/$200 prizes. Entries must be under 6,000 words.

Top prize
Additional prizes

Second and third place prizes ($300 / $200, publication, and agency review)

Entry requirements

Deadline: August 28, 2022

Genres

Flash Fiction, Short Story

International Novel Prize

The 2022 Grindstone International Novel Prize is open to authors from all around the world, and is aimed at discovering and elevating new and unsung authors. Authors may submit finished or part-finished manuscripts providing they are not currently represented by an agent. We forward all longlisted works to some of the best agencies in the UK such as Curtis Brown Books, Conville and Walsh, Janklow & Nesbitt, the Paper Literary Agency, the Good Literary Agency, and so many more.

Top prize
Additional prizes

Runner Up: £500 | 4x Shortlist: £125 | Longlist: Entries forwarded to affiliated agents.

Entry requirements

Deadline: October 01, 2022

Genres

Crime, Mystery, Novel, Thriller

Claymore Award

Created in 2009, the Killer Nashville Claymore Award assists new and rebranding English-language fiction authors to get published, including possible agent representation, book advances, editor deals, and movie and television sales. The contest is limited to only the first 50 double-spaced pages of unpublished English-language manuscripts containing elements of thriller, mystery, crime, or suspense NOT currently under contract.

Top prize

Possible contract with Mystery Writers of America

Entry requirements

Deadline: April 01, 2023

Genres

Crime, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Novel, Science Fiction, Thriller

Rattle Young Poets

Rattle is a publication of the Rattle Foundation, an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to promote the practice of poetry, and is not affiliated with any other organization. The author of the poem must have been age 15 or younger when the poem was written, and 18 or younger when submitted.

Top prize

Publication in Rattle Magazine

Entry requirements

Deadline: November 15, 2022

Genres

Miami University Novella Prize

The Miami University Novella Prize is awarded annually to a novella-length manuscript of original fiction (18,000–40,000 words). The winner receives $750, a standard contract, publication and 10 copies of the book.

Top prize
Additional prizes

Publication through the University of Miami Press

Entry requirements

Deadline: August 30, 2022

Genres

Etched Onyx and the Story Discovery Podcast

The Fall Edition Contest is an open, mixed-category contest. In other words, we have no limitations or expectations on which types of works will win awards. Selections are based on originality, voice, and style. Last years contest had 4 prose winners and 2 poetry winners.

Top prize
Additional prizes

Second Prize $250 | Third Prize $100 | 3 Honorable Mentions $50 each

Entry requirements

Deadline: August 28, 2022

Genres

Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Non-fiction, Poetry, Science Fiction, Short Story, Thriller

Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction

University of North Texas Press

The University of North Texas Press announces the 2023 Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction. The winner of this annual award will receive $1000 and publication by UNT Press. Entries will be judged by an eminent writer.

Top prize
Additional prizes

Publication by UNT Press

Entry requirements

Deadline: June 30, 2022

Genres

Flash Fiction, Novella, Short Story

Flash Fiction Competition

Globe Soup are looking for the best flash fiction of no more than 800 words. The competition features a secret location in which all participants must set their story. Participants can get extensive feedback on their entry by joining Globe Soup’s writing group and free entry to their monthly micro fiction contests and other opportunities to win cash prizes!

Top prize
Entry requirements

Deadline: December 31, 2021 (Expired)

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Crime, Fantasy, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult

Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry

Lynx House Press

The annual Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry awards $2000 plus publication for a full-length poetry collection. The Prize is awarded for an unpublished, full-length volume of poems by a U.S. author, which includes foreign nationals living and writing in the U.S. and U.S. citizens living abroad.

Top prize
Additional prizes
Entry requirements

Deadline: July 16, 2022

Genres

Kate Tufts Discovery Award

Claremont Graduate University

The Kate Tufts Discovery Award was created in 1994, a year after the inception of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. It is presented to a first book by a poet of genuine promise. The Kate Tufts Discovery Award offers a hefty prize of $10,000. The work submitted must be a first book of poetry published between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022. Manuscripts, CDs, and chapbooks are not accepted.

Top prize
Entry requirements

Deadline: June 30, 2022

Genres

Discover the finest writing contests of 2022 for fiction and non-fiction authors — including short story competitions, essay writing competitions, poetry contests, and many more. Updated weekly, these contests are vetted by Reedsy to weed out the scammers and time-wasters. If you’re looking to stick to free writing contests, simply use our filters as you browse.

Why you should submit to writing contests

Submitting to poetry competitions and free writing contests in 2022 is absolutely worth your while as an aspiring author: just as your qualifications matter when you apply for a new job, a writing portfolio that boasts published works and award-winning pieces is a great way to give your writing career a boost. And not to mention the bonus of cash prizes!

That being said, we understand that taking part in writing contests can be tough for emerging writers. First, there’s the same affliction all writers face: lack of time or inspiration. Entering writing contests is a time commitment, and many people decide to forego this endeavor in order to work on their larger projects instead — like a full-length book. Second, for many writers, the chance of rejection is enough to steer them clear of writing contests.

But we’re here to tell you that two of the great benefits of entering writing contests happen to be the same as those two reasons to avoid them.

When it comes to the time commitment: yes, you will need to expend time and effort in order to submit a quality piece of writing to competitions. That being said, having a hard deadline to meet is a great motivator for developing a solid writing routine.

Think of entering contests as a training session to become a writer who will need to meet deadlines in order to have a successful career. If there’s a contest you have your eye on, and the deadline is in one month, sit down and realistically plan how many words you’ll need to write per day in order to meet that due date — and don’t forget to also factor in the time you’ll need to edit your story!

For tips on setting up a realistic writing plan, check out this free, ten-day course: How to Build a Rock-Solid Writing Routine.

In regards to the fear of rejection, the truth is that any writer aspiring to become a published author needs to develop relatively thick skin. If one of your goals is to have a book traditionally published, you will absolutely need to learn how to deal with rejection, as traditional book deals are notoriously hard to score. If you’re an indie author, you will need to adopt the hardy determination required to slowly build up a readership.

The good news is that there’s a fairly simple trick for learning to deal with rejection: use it as a chance to explore how you might be able to improve your writing.

In an ideal world, each rejection from a publisher or contest would come with a detailed letter, offering construction feedback and pointing out specific tips for improvement. And while this is sometimes the case, it’s the exception and not the rule.

Still, you can use the writing contests you don’t win as a chance to provide yourself with this feedback. Take a look at the winning and shortlisted stories and highlight their strong suits: do they have fully realized characters, a knack for showing instead of telling, a well-developed but subtly conveyed theme, a particularly satisfying denouement?

The idea isn’t to replicate what makes those stories tick in your own writing. But most examples of excellent writing share a number of basic craft principles. Try and see if there are ways for you to translate those stories’ strong points into your own unique writing.

Finally, there are the more obvious benefits of entering writing contests: prize and publication. Not to mention the potential to build up your readership, connect with editors, and gain exposure.

Resources to help you win writing competitions in 2022

Every writing contest has its own set of submission rules. Whether those rules are dense or sparing, ensure that you follow them to a T. Disregarding the guidelines will not sway the judges’ opinion in your favor — and might disqualify you from the contest altogether.

Aside from ensuring you follow the rules, here are a few resources that will help you perfect your submissions.

2021 Essay Contest Winner: “A brand-new ending”

Sexy. Whenever I think of Perry and how it was, I think sexy. The thought makes me smile. A buoyant inner smile, almost smug. Falling in love at 47 and marrying at 52 is both miraculous and terrifying.

But, then, falling in love is always miraculous and terrifying. In your 50s, it just comes with an end date built-in.

Oh, some people claim that 50 is the new 30 and all that. But, for me, when Perry and I married, I was keenly aware that one of us was going to have to usher the other out. Maybe not for another 30 years or so, knock on wood, but Perry’s parents both died in their early 60s. I’d buried many loved ones already. I just wanted it to be Perry ushering me out.

I should have remembered: Be careful what you wish for.

Before meeting Perry, I’d go about my day, striding between work meetings and appointments, feeling dumpy. In flats with knee-length skirts and suit jackets, I felt…well, old. After meeting Perry, I strode in those same flat shoes with my soft belly, my fleshy hips, and my upper arms jiggling, and I felt, well…sexy. Even my brown curls bounced.

Of course, nothing about my body had changed, but I felt altogether different. The openness of our desire, the undeniable fact of it, was a gift. I wasn’t just enamored with Perry; I was hooked on who I became while with him. Sensual. Adventurous. Brave.

When we first met, Perry was tan from playing tennis. Dark forearms and neck. He had pale blue eyes with deep laugh lines. Barrel chested with thighs like tree trunks, he was 5-foot-10 to my 5-foot-5. We fit well together.

Perry taught English as a Second Language in New Hampshire. Kids in their early teens arrived from all parts of the world speaking no English. Perry exuded calm. Complemented by kind eyes, his smile said everything will be OK.

I was a psychotherapist, and, like Perry, I was skilled at soothing people in crisis, helping them recognize they had the strength to deal with whatever life hurled at them.

Over the years, Perry and I developed an easy rhythm. Our routines were not uncommon. We spent entire weekend afternoons exploring the local library and drinking coffee at our local café, Breaking New Grounds. We walked the beaches of Maine and sketched the rocks at low tide. We cooked together, nothing fancy. We ate copious amounts of broccoli and broiled chicken, both relishing and feeling virtuous in our healthful simplicity. Occasionally, we ate popcorn for dinner as we read books by the fire.

We took care of each other, inconsequential things: me, placing a water glass on his bedside table; him, refilling my coffee as I wrote in the morning.

We touched each other often, like shorthand. I’m here. I’m here.

Fourteen years almost to the day we met, Perry sits across from me on the couch as he delivers my morning coffee. He leans forward as if he’s about to say something, but instead, he sinks back and remains silent. “What’s up?” I invite.

He breathes in. “I want a divorce; I’m not attracted to you anymore; I want children of my own.” His words whoosh out, as though he’s practiced them and must speak fast, afraid he’ll forget one.

“What?” Dread, immediate and physical, lands in my solar plexus. My mind skitters, like a rock skimmed over tranquil water. I can’t make sense of his sounds. It’s as though he’s speaking in a foreign language. I wonder if this is how his students feel – shocked by the words coming at them too quickly.

He continues to talk. I catch snippets: just realizedlast chance... He’s babbling.

When faced with disaster, I become hyper-focused, with excellent diction. In times of crisis, I exhibit supernatural composure. I’m the person you want around when a kid cracks his head on the radiator and blood spurts everywhere. It’s the skill of dissociation, learned early in childhood, and, if employed judiciously, very handy.

“Is there a mother for these children?” I ask, reaching for my coffee as if this is a casual conversation.

“No,” he says. “But I want to be free to pursue someone.”

I grip my mug, feeling light-headed.

Is Perry leaving after 14 years to make babies?

This can’t be. He’s 60 years old.

“Can I grab a few things?” he asks. “I just…need some stuff…for the hotel.” He looks visibly relieved there isn’t more of a scene.

Five minutes later, he walks out with his gym duffle.

I begin calling everyone I know.

“Perry asked for a divorce because he wants babies,” I announce. “I’m so disoriented,” I repeat this over and over.

I thought I was someone who could read people, who understood people. I’m a goddamn therapist. Just two weeks ago, we celebrated our 14 years together. We held hands on the beach, laughing as the frigid water caught our feet, talking about our future. Just yesterday morning, he suggested we change our cable package so we could watch the Red Sox this summer.

“Maybe he has a brain tumor,” says one friend.

“He’s having an affair,” announces another.

“Clearly, it’s a nervous breakdown.”

“He already knocked someone up,” one decides.

Could he have a urinary tract infection? Old people get psychotic from them.” (This, from a younger friend, who thought of 60 as elderly. I forgave her.)

“He’s an asshole,” Ricky, my best friend, tells me.

But Perry was never an asshole. He’s the most gentle, caring man I’ve ever known.

Sixty is the age of leaving the house and returning for the car keys, the age of have you seen my glasses? The age of sudden, unwanted diagnoses. Who leaves a marriage at this point? Accepting old age is considered sinful. We exercise, eat organic, and pretend we can make youth last. I’d imagined us together till the end, laughing and commiserating as we handled the shifts and tweaks aging requires.

Some, hoping to postpone death, topple their lives. There are names for this group: gray divorce, silver splitters. Heartbreak hurtles me back into shaky adolescence – not the youth I want to revisit.

During one sloppy call, both of us weeping over what a wonderful life we’d had together, I ask him in desperation, “Why can’t you try to get what you want here? With me?”

“You can’t give me babies.”

No, that I can’t do.

Grief-land is its own territory. It’s lonely and filled with steep, treacherous, rocky paths and lots of mosquitos. It rains often.

There are no caves to crawl into and get dry. There’s no place to sleep. One must keep trudging and trudging. Occasionally, one meets another person in this land, but often they’re not in the mood to talk. Our heads face down, watching our feet, plodding.

Because, over there, just over the next rise, or possibly the next, it’s sunny with cool breezes that blow away the mosquitos. There are hot boulders to lean against for warmth. People smile and hold your hand over the rough patches. They feed you soup and tell you it will be OK. You’ll be OK.

Everyone’s dragged into Grief-land at some point, but no one enters willingly.

By the time we’re in our 60s, most of us have spent time in Grief-land.

I have. So, I trust that the sunny place over the rise is truly there and all I have to do is keep walking.

But I haven’t even entered Grief-land yet. I’m in some anteroom, I name Howl-land. A long wail of repeated questions. What did I miss? What did I do wrong?

As we move through the divorce, as he waffles about coming back, as his narrative shifts, I reconstruct my understanding of our past and unearth a revised future.

When I stomp around, bitter about the raw deal he dealt, anger and defeat own me. When I face how life is a wild ride – and appreciate the love in my life, then and now – I grow expansive and walk straight.

Starting with small actions, I build back my life. Nothing earth-shattering. Planting daisies. Going out with friends. Finishing my novel. Getting a promotion at work. Hunting dinosaurs with grandchildren.

When my youngest son gets engaged, he asks, “So, Mom, do you still believe in love and marriage?”

I want to take my time here. Each person we love takes a little piece of us and then they’re careless, forget to look both ways, drink too much, climb mountain cliffs, or are otherwise negligent.

People die. They fall out of love. They leave.

The only way to avoid this pain is to avoid love. That is too hard a way to live.

“Yes,” I say. “I do. It didn’t work out for me, but I still think getting to know a person till the end of days is a superb endeavor.” I pause and then say, “Love, alone, isn’t enough. You need to be fearless.”

Loss is such a constant, and yet such a mammoth concern. We protect against it. We put in smoke detectors and immunize our children. We try to be careful with money and don’t curse out our boss.

So, when loss comes anyway, as it will, we blame. We judge. Why weren’t you more careful? Why did you walk alone at night? Why didn’t you recognize he was flawed?

These judgments aren’t evil. They’re our hope that if we do all things right, we’ll be immune to devastating loss.

As time passes, people begin to ask if I’m seeing anyone – dating.

I understand the motivation. It’s some version of getting back on the horse. A satisfying conclusion to this saga of lost love involves me meeting another love. It isn’t a terrible notion.

Friends and family would relax. They’d stop worrying and cease imagining bleak, long, empty evenings for me.

Probably the only people who don’t care if I am in a relationship or not are my grandchildren. I appreciate this.

Because a funny thing happened during my grief over Perry. I discovered I really like living alone. I found my way back to myself. Of course, it’s difficult to describe being alone and happy without sounding like I’m trying to convince myself that low-fat yogurt tastes as delicious as ice cream. But I think there can be a gratifying ending with being in alliance with myself, my own desires, and the people I cherish.

I’ve taken to watching couples in their 60s walking and wishing them luck. I miss having our shared history, our private jokes, the look across a roomful of people that said, I’ve got you.

What I have instead – what I have created – is a life of connection with love. Not a love. Not one person. But a life of love, nonetheless. So many stories end with finding the right person; I want to end with luxuriating in the right me.

Six years after our divorce, I meet Perry for lunch. We eat lobster rolls, watching the gulls follow the tugboats on the river. It’s May, and his tennis tan has begun. At 66, his hair, like mine, is mostly gray. He appears tired. It’s nearing the end of the school year, and I’m sure he is exhausted.

He tells me he and his new wife are expecting twins. Perry will be a first-time father at 66. He’ll unquestionably be way too busy to obsess about old age and dying. I hope he’s bought good life insurance.

“Congratulations,” I say.

The waiter clears our plates.

“Do you remember,” I ask, “while we were married, I told you the next book I intended to write was about the gifts of later-in-life love?”

“I still plan to write that book,” I tell him. “Only now it has a different ending.”

—Virginia DeLuca is the author of the novel As If Women Mattered and is working on a memoir about divorcing in her 60s.

Interview with Virginia DeLuca

What was your writing process like for this essay? What was your revision process like?

With any writing I do, I borrow from Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird and title my initial attempt “shitty first draft.” This allows me to grapple with half-formed thoughts and frees me from that inner critic. This essay was revised a lot. I couldn’t begin to say how many drafts. Eventually, to end the tinkering, I set a deadline and gave it to my first readers. My wish for every writer is to have a few trusted people who will give honest feedback without being discouraging.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about writing?

When I hesitate to write, when I avoid writing and clean the kitchen or make extremely urgent appointments to have my teeth cleaned, it is because I’m afraid. I’m afraid what I have to say is irrelevant and self-indulgent. It’s important to write through that fear. Being honest and telling stories through any art form means connection. And connecting with others is most important.

What’s your best advice for fellow essayists and memoirists?

Be fearless. Believe your stories have value and are worth telling. Don’t hesitate to join writing classes and find your group of trusted readers who can both encourage and be honest about early drafts.

40 Free Writing Contests: Legitimate Competitions With Cash Prizes

writing contests

Have you ever Googled “writing contests”? Many require “reading fees” or prizes — like seeing your work in print — that you can only receive if you pay for it.

Some legitimate contests do charge small entry fees, but often a fee can be a red flag for a scam, so those might be the ones you want to stay away from.

Besides, there are plenty of free writing contests that encourage and inspire boundless creativity with real cash prizes and career-advancing opportunities! Since it can be hard for a writer to know where to find them, we did the legwork for you.

We found 40 reputable, well-reviewed, free writing contests for poets, fiction writers, essayists and more. With thousands of dollars in cash prizes and numerous opportunities to secure a publishing contract, you’re sure to find the right free writing contest for your work.

(If you don’t mind paying a little money to enter, our friends over at Smart Blogger have rounded up some great writing contests that have small entry fees. And if you’re still hungry for more opportunities, we also have posts on writers grants and writing fellowships .)

Fiction and nonfiction writing contests 2021

Ready to share your novel or personal essay with the world? Whether you’re a newbie or more established writer, you’re likely eligible for a few of these contests.

Here are some fiction and nonfiction writing contests worth considering.

1. L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest

Whatever your feelings about L. Ron Hubbard’s work and philosophy, the prizes for this regular contest are nothing to sneeze at. Every three months, winners earn $1,000, $750 and $500, plus an additional annual grand prize of $5,000.

Submissions must be short stories or novelettes (up to 17,000 words) in the genre of science fiction or fantasy, and new and amateur writers are welcome to apply.

Deadlines: Quarterly on March 31, June 30 and September 30.

2. Inkitt

This boutique publishing firm offers cash prizes and promotional packages to winning authors. Submit a novel of 10,000 words or more in any fiction genre (no fanfic or poetry).

Inkitt’s writing contest runs monthly and gives authors the chance to win cash prizes up to $300, exclusive book badges and promotional packages while showcasing their books to Inkitt’s audience of more than 3 million users. Winners are determined by Inkitt’s unique algorithm based on overall reader engagement.

Deadline: See individual contest pages.

Disclosure: Inkitt is an advertising partner of The Write Life. We hold our advertisers to high standards and vetted this contest just like others on this list.

3. Drue Heinz Literature Prize

You can win $15,000 and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press with this prize, awarded for a collection of short fiction.

You may submit an unpublished manuscript of short stories, two or more novellas or a combination of novellas and short stories. Your total word count should be between 150 and 300 typed pages. You must also have already published a novel or book-length work of fiction “with a reputable publisher,” or no fewer than three short stories or novellas in nationally-recognized journals.

Deadline: Annual submissions must be postmarked between May 1 through June 30.

4. St. Francis College Literary Prize

Since 2009, this biennial literary award has honored mid-career writers who have recently published their third, fourth or fifth work of fiction. The winner receives $50,000 and may be invited to the St. Francis College campus in Brooklyn, New York, to deliver a talk about their work or teach a mini fiction workshop to St. Francis students.

Deadline: Biennially; the contest is not offered in 2021 due to the pandemic and limited campus access

5. Young Lions Fiction Award

This $10,000 award recognizes “young authors,” which the rules define as any author aged 35 or younger. Submit any novel or collection of short stories published or scheduled to be published in the calendar year. Works must be written for adults; children’s or YA pieces are ineligible.

Deadline: Submissions for 2021 are open as of May 2021; deadline is TBA

6. Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prizes

One of the best-loved small presses in the creative writing world, Graywolf Press hosts a variety of contests for both established and up-and-coming writers. Graywolf also offers smaller fiction and nonfiction prizes, with genres rotating by year; 2020 was a nonfiction year, so fiction is up in 2021. These awards include a sizable advance — $12,000 in previous years — as well as publication with Graywolf.

Deadline: Contest is held annually with rotating genres; the 2021 deadline is TBA.

7. The Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award for Veterans

Hosted by the prestigious Iowa Review, the Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award is offered to U.S. military veterans and active-duty members writing in any genre about any subject. Manuscripts of up to 20 pages will be accepted, and the first-prize winner will receive $1,000 and publication in the Review. A second place prize of $750 is also available, as well as three runner-up prizes of $500 each.

Deadline: Biennially. The next contest will be held in 2022.

8. New Voices Award

Presented by Lee & Low Books, an award-winning children’s book publisher, this award is given for a previously unpublished children’s picture book manuscript of no more than 1,500 words written by a writer of color or Indigenous/Native writers who’s a resident of the U.S.

The winner receives $2,000 cash and a standard publication contract, and an additional Honor Award winner will receive a cash prize of $1,000. You may submit up to two manuscripts.

Deadline: Submissions for 2021 will be accepted May 1 to July 31.

9. Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence

For 15 years, this contest has provided visibility for emerging African American fiction writers and enables them to focus on their writing by awarding a $15,000 cash prize. Eligible authors should submit a work of fiction, such as a novel or short story collection, published in the calendar year. (Galleys for publication within the year are also accepted.)

Deadline: Annually; the deadline for 2021 is August 15, 2021.

10. PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

Honoring the best work of fiction published by an American author in a single calendar year, this award has been given to the likes of John Updike, Philip Roth and Ann Patchett. Novels, novellas and collections of short stories are all eligible.

The winner receives a hefty cash prize — up to $15,000 in the past — and an invitation to read at the award ceremony in Washington, D.C. Plus, there are no submission fees or application forms to deal with; just send a PDF of each book (as many as you’d like) to [email protected]

Deadline: The 2021 submissions are closed. In 2022, submissions will be accepted from July 1 to October 31.

11. PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers

This contest requires you to have already published a short story in a literary magazine or journal or cultural website. But if you’ve made your debut (but gone no further), you may be eligible for the generous cash prize of $2,000, which is annually awarded to 12 emerging writers, whose works are then published together in an anthology.

Short stories of up to 12,000 words are eligible and must be published in the calendar year preceding the year in which the award is given. Additionally, keep this in mind: Submissions are only eligible if submitted by an editor. Authors may not submit their own work.

Deadline: Contest is open annually between June and November.

12. Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards

Fiction and nonfiction writers who have recently published a book that “contribute[s] to our understanding of racism and our appreciation of cultural diversity” are eligible for this award, which offers $10,000 cash as well as media and publicity opportunities. Plus, winners receive their prize at a ceremony in Cleveland.

Submissions must be published in the prior year (so books published in 2020 are eligible for the 2021 award).

Deadline: Annual submission window is September 1 through December 31.

13. Marfield Prize (aka National Award for Arts Writing)

Presented by the Arts Club of Washington, this award seeks to honor nonfiction books that deal with the “visual, literary, media, or performing arts.” The prize is $10,000 and may be awarded to works of criticism, art history, memoirs and biographies, and essays.

Deadline: Annually in the last quarter of the year; the 2021 deadline is November 16 to December 31.

14. W.Y. Boyd Literary Award for Excellence in Military Fiction

If you’re a war buff, this competition is for you. It awards $5,000 — and a 24-karat-gold-framed citation of achievement — to the best piece of fiction set during a period when the U.S. was at war (war may either be the main plot of the piece or simply provide the setting). Submissions may be adult or YA novels.

Deadline: Annually on December 1.

15. Friends of American Writers Chicago Awards

FAW presents two annual awards: an Adult Literature Award for literary fiction or nonfiction, and a Young People’s Literature Award for a children’s/YA book.

Authors must reside in the state of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota or Wisconsin — or they must set their book in one of those locations. Prize amounts vary from year to year, but you don’t have to bother with an application and all winners are celebrated at the organization’s May luncheon.

Deadline: Annually in December; the 2022 deadline is TBA.

16. Hektoen Grand Prix Essay Contest

Hektoen International, an online journal dedicated to medical humanities, offers two prizes annually for essays of no more than 1,500 words: $5,000 is awarded to the winner and $2,500 to the first runner-up. Eligible topics are broad so long as they have a relation to medicine, and many include art, history, literature, education and more.

Deadline: Annually; September 15, 2021 is the most current deadline.

17. Biopage Storytelling Writing Contest

There’s no denying it: social media is a huge part of our 21st-century lives. It’s easy to get used to limiting our communications to 280-character and emoji-strewn snippets, which is why this marketing firm is hosting an essay writing contest to “remind people of the benefits of writing.”

Essays of up to 5,000 characters (roughly 1,000 words) will be accepted, and right now they’re looking for stories of COVID-19 quarantine life.. The grand prize winner will receive $300, and five runners-up will be awarded $100 each.

The contest is free to enter, but you’ll need to register for a Biopage account to be eligible.

Deadline: July 31, 2021

18. St. Martin’s Minotaur / Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition

Writers 18 and older who have never had a novel published (in any genre) are eligible for this prize, awarded to an original book-length manuscript where “murder or another serious crime or crimes is at the heart of the story.” The winner receives a publication contract with Minotaur Books and an advance of $10,000 against future royalties.

Deadline: Annually in the first quarter of the year; the deadline for 2022 is TBA.

19. ServiceScape Short Story Award

ServiceScape, a platform matching freelance writers, editors and graphic designers with clients (i.e. a great place to look for paid writing work !) offers a yearly Short Story Award of $1,000 to a winning fiction or nonfiction work of 5,000 words or fewer. The winner will also have their story featured on the ServiceScape blog, which sees thousands of readers each month.

Deadline: November 30, 2021

20. Stowe Prize

This biennial prize of $10,000 honors an American author whose adult fiction or nonfiction work has had an impact on a critical social justice issue (as did Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin ).

Deadline: Biennially; the 2022 deadline is TBA.

21. The Diana Woods Memorial Award in Creative Nonfiction

Creative nonfiction essays of no more than 5,000 words on any subject are eligible for consideration for this award, whose winner receives $250 and publication in Lunch Ticket , the literary and art journal produced by the MFA community of Antioch University Los Angeles.

Works must not have been published elsewhere. Award winners are required to submit a 100-word biography, recent photo and a short note thanking the Woods family for their generosity and support.

Deadlines: Biannual reading periods are in February for the Summer/Fall issue and in August for the Winter/Spring issue.

22. The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms Essay Contest

Each year, this Canadian organization offers three prizes, ranging from $500 to $1,500, to the essay with the most thoughtful, well-reasoned arguments around a specific human-rights theme. (For example, 2019’s prompt was, “Should universities police student behavior at private events?”

The contest is open to Canadian college and university students, and essays should be 2,500 words or less in length.

Deadline: 2021 contest guidelines and deadline TBD

23. Write the World

For young writers ages 13-18, these cool contests also serve as mini workshops. Recognizing that “a first draft is never perfect,” submissions actually receive peer review by authors, writing teachers and other experts and writers are given the chance to revise their pieces based on this feedback before submitting them for final prize consideration.

Contests vary each month, but there’s a $100 prize for the winner and $50 for the runner-up (plus $50 for the best peer-reviewer). All three are featured on Write the World’s blog alongside comments from a guest judge. And since each month’s prompt is from a different genre, developing writers get a chance to test out different styles.

Deadline: Monthly.

24. Prose.

Stuck with writer’s block and looking for a way to jumpstart your escape? Prose offers weekly challenges meant to spark your creativity; many are just for fun, but look for the weekly numbered challenges posted by Prose (rather than community members or sponsors) for a chance to win money.

Prizes are typically between $100 to $200 and word counts are low — some as low as under 150, some as high as 500. So even if all you get from the prompt is a chance to flex your brain, it’s not a bad deal.

Deadline: Weekly and monthly.

25. The Restless Books Prize For New Immigrant Writing

First-generation immigrants have a chance to win $10,000 and publication by Restless Books for telling their stories (real or imagined). The contest alternates annually between fiction (novel or short story collection) and nonfiction (memoir, essay collection, narrative nonfiction). In 2021, it will go to a work of nonfiction of at least 25,000 words; 2022 will be fiction.

Deadline: Annually; the deadline for 2021 has passed. The 2022 submission deadline is TBA.

26. AFSA National High School Essay Contest

The U.S. Institute of Peace and the American Foreign Service Association sponsor this annual high school essay contest, where the winner receives a $2,500 cash prize, an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., and a full-tuition paid voyage with Semester at Sea upon the student’s enrollment at an accredited university. Essays should be between 1,000 and 1,250 words and have to answer all aspects of the prompt as well as demonstrate an understanding of the Foreign Service.

Runners-up get a pretty sweet deal, too — a $1,250 cash prize and a full scholarship to participate in the International Diplomacy Program of the National Student Leadership Conference.

Deadline : The 2021 deadline has passed; the 2022 deadline is TBA.

27. Science-me a Story

Born in 2018, the Society of Spanish Researchers invites talented and original writers to write a 100-word blurb for a hypothetical novel. This might sound really easy, but your blurb has to quickly hook readers and make them want to read more. Open to anyone over 18 anywhere in the world, your real or fictional short story for this competition must be either in English or Spanish and “conceived from the objective of scientific dissemination to primary school” to qualify for the cash prizes: £150, £100 and £50.

Deadline : The 2021 deadline has passed. The contest is generally open mid-February to mid-March.

28. VCU Cabell First Novelist Award

Virginia Commonwealth University sponsors this award that honors an outstanding debut novel published in the preceding calendar year. While you may have published previous books in a different form, the submission must be your first published book marketed as a novel.

The award is a $5,000 cash prize, and the winning author must agree to attend the award event, usually scheduled for November.

Deadline : Annually; the 2022 contest runs July 1 through December 20, 2021.

29. Daisy Utemorrah Award

The Daisy Utemorrah Award is for an unpublished manuscript of junior or YA fiction written by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples currently living in Australia. Generously supported by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund and the State Government of Western Australia, the winner of the award receives $15,000 and a publishing contract with Magabala Books.

Deadline : The 2021 deadline has passed; 2022 deadline TBD.

30. Ultimate Meal Plans Nutrition Scholarship

College students studying nutrition, kinesiology or exercise-science fields: you’re going to be all over this one. Twice per year, the Ultimate Paleo Guide (aka the best paleo resource on the internet) awards $500 scholarships to two deserving students who meet all eligibility requirements — as well as write an 800-word essay about why you chose your field, an impact you’d like to make in your career, a challenge you’ve faced and more.

Deadlines: January 30 (awards in March) and July 31 (awards in September).

31. Insecure Writer’s Support Group Annual Anthology Contest

The theme? First love. The genre? Sweet romance. As long as you stick to these guidelines, The Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s annual contest welcomes your 5,000- to 6,000-word (previously unpublished) creative story. But before you send it off, make sure your story is polished and formatted! Plus, the prizes aren’t too shabby — winning stories will be edited and published, authors will receive royalties, and the top story will even get to give the anthology its title.

Deadlines: September 1, 2021.

32. Short Fiction Prize

If you’re an undergrad at a college in the U.S. or Canada, this writing competition is for you. (Traditionally, this contest has encouraged applicants with an Asian background, but anyone is invited to apply.) Submissions should be no more than 7,500 words.

One winner will get a $1,000 prize as well as a scholarship to the 2022 Southampton Writers Conference.

Deadline: June 1, 2021

33. Bacopa Literary Review Contest

The Bacopa Literary Review is an international journal published by the Writers Alliance of Gainesville. Each year, it opens submissions for pieces in four genres: fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry and prose poetry. Find detailed guidelines for each genre on its website. First place gets $300, and the second prize in each of the four genres gets $100.

Deadline: May 31, 2021

Poetry contests 2021

Curious about opportunities for poets? Your stanzas — rhyming or not — could be worth a fair amount of money in these poetry competitions.

Check out these poetry writing contests.

34. Black Voices in Children’s Literature Writing Contest

This contest is open to Black writers who are over the age of 18 andresidents of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota or Wisconsin. It’s hosted by Strive Publishing and Free Spirit Publishing and seeks to fill the need for Black representation in children’s and young adult books. Original board and picture books for children aged 0-4 and picture books for ages 4-8 are eligible, provided they feature contemporary, realistic Black characters and culture and focus on character development, self esteem, community and other aspects of positive childhood development.

Three prizes, ranging from $250 to $1,000, will be awarded, and the first place winner will be “seriously considered” for publication, though it’s not guaranteed.

Deadline: September 20, 2021.

35. James Laughlin Award

If you’re already a published poet, this is the award for you; it’s given for a second book of poetry due to come out in the forthcoming year. The winner receives $5,000 and an all-expenses-paid week-long residency at The Betsy Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida. In addition, copies of the winning book are distributed to 1,000 members of the Academy of American Poets.

Deadline: Annual submission window is January 1 through May 15.

36. African Poetry Book Fund Prizes

The APBF awards three prizes annually for African Poetry. The Luschei Prize for African Poetry gives $1,000 for a book of original African poetry published in the prior year.

The Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets gives $1,000 and a publication contract for a book-length collection of poetry by an as-yet-unpublished African author.

The Brunel International African Poetry Prize is a new prize that grants £3,000 to a poet who was born in Africa, or has African parents, who has not yet had a full-length book of poetry published. (U.S. citizens qualify.) To submit, you’ll need 10 poems.

Deadlines: See individual prize pages.

37. Tufts Poetry Awards

Claremont Graduate University presents two awards each year to poets they deem to be “outstanding.” The Kate Tufts Poetry Award grants $10,000 for a published first book of poetry that shows promise.

The Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award grants a mammoth $100,000 for a published book of poetry by an established or mid-career poet.

Deadline: 2021 deadlines not yet announced.

38. Graywolf Press Walt Whitman Award

The Walt Whitman Award is a $5,000 prize awarded, along with publication, to an American poet with a winning first book manuscript. He or she also receives an all-expenses-paid six-week residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Umbria, Italy.

Graywolf Press is also one of the publishers of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize , “a first book award dedicated to the discovery of exceptional manuscripts by Black poets.” Winners receive $1,000 and Graywolf publishes every third winner of the prize.

Deadline : Submissions for 2021 have passed; 2022 submission deadline TBD.

39. Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

Now in its 21st year, this humor contest wants your best published or unpublished work for a grand prize of $2,000; runners-up are awarded $500 and 10 honorable mentions will receive $100 each. Writers of all ages from eligible countries can submit an original, humorous poem with 250 lines or less, and it must be an English.

Deadline : April 1, 2022.

40. The Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize

This writing competition is looking for the best piece of unpublished themed writing. In 2021, the theme was “Untamed: On Wilderness and Civilization.” Submissions may be prose, poetry or non-academic essays. Maximum word count is 2,500, and this is open to all nationalities and to anyone 18 or older. The winner gets a £10,000 cash prize, second place gets £3,000 and third place gets £2,000.

Deadline : Applications for 2021 have closed. Follow the Alpine Fellowship on Instagram for updates.

Where to find more legitimate, free writing contests

Looking for more opportunities to submit your work? Here are a few great sites to keep an eye on for writing contests.

Winning Writers

A number of the contests found on our list came highly recommended by this site, which compiles some of the best free literary contests out there. Along with a wide range of recommended contests for writers of all stripes, Winning Writers also lists some contests and services to avoid — which is just as useful!

They also offer a handful of contests themselves , including the North Street Book Prize .

Poets & Writers

Another fantastic source for legitimate writing contests we consulted when compiling this list, Poets & Writers vets competitions, contests, awards and grants to make sure they’re following legitimate practices and policies. It’s worth checking out regularly as it features both annual and one-time contests.

(This listing contains affiliate links. That means if you purchase through our links, you’re supporting The Write Life — and we thank you for that!)

The original version of this story was written by Kelly Gurnett . We updated the post so it’s more useful for our readers.

How to win a scholarship essay contest

Writing a scholarship essay

You’ve found the ideal scholarship – amazing! But to get your hands on the funding you need to win the essay contest.

Winning a scholarship essay contest can be tough, but with the right tips it’s definitely doable. Here are seven steps that will help you write an essay that stands out from the rest.

Understand the scholarship essay contest rules

If you want to win a scholarship essay contest, the first thing you need to do is understand the rules. Scholarship essay contests are not just about writing well; they’re also about following the rules. So, before you start writing, take a few minutes to read over the guidelines and make sure you understand them. Once you’ve done that, you can start brainstorming ideas for your essay. Just remember to keep the rules in mind as you write; if you don’t, you may find your essay disqualified. But if you play by the rules, you could be the next scholarship winner.

Brainstorm topics that would be interesting to write about

Brainstorm topics for your international scholarship essay

When wondering how to brainstorm topics that would be interesting to write about for your scholarship essay, consider the following tips. First, identify what you are passionate about. What are the things that you love to do? Why do you enjoy them? When you write about something that you are passionate about, your excitement will shine through, making your essay more interesting to read. Secondly, think about your unique experiences and perspectives. What sets you apart from other applicants? What life experiences have shaped who you are today? By writing about your unique experiences, you can give the scholarship committee a better sense of who you are as a person. Lastly, don’t be afraid to be creative. Brainstorming is all about generating new ideas, so don’t be afraid to think outside the box. By considering these tips, you can brainstorm topics that will make your scholarship essay stand out from the rest.

Start drafting your essay early

The best way to write a good essay is to start drafting it early. Do not procrastinate or leave it until the last minute. This will give you enough time to make sure that each sentence is well written and flows smoothly into the next. It will also allow you to revise and edit your essay, making it as strong as possible. Of course, starting early does not mean that you should try to write the perfect essay on the first try. It is perfectly normal to revise and edit your work as you go along. In fact, revision is an essential part of the writing process. So, if you want to write a good essay, start early and be prepared to revise and edit your work along the way.

Revise, revise, revise

After you write your first draft, put the essay away for at least 24 hours. This will give you some much-needed distance from your work, and when you come back to it you’ll be able to see it with fresh eyes. Once you’ve taken a break, read through your essay carefully and make any necessary edits. Pay attention to flow and make sure that your ideas are clearly laid out. By taking the time to review and edit your work, you’ll be able to turn in an essay that is sure to impress.

Get feedback from others

Get feedback on your scholarship essay

After you have spent some time alone with your work, it can be helpful to get feedback from other people. This can be tricky, because you don’t want just anyone’s opinion-you want constructive criticism from someone who knows what they’re talking about. But if you can find a few trusted friends or family members who are willing to read your essay and give you honest feedback, it can be very helpful in improving your work. Of course, ultimately the decision of what to change (or not change) is up to you. But getting outside perspectives can help you see your work in a new light and make the revision process a bit easier.

Polish your essay until it’s perfect

The final step in writing any good essay is putting the finishing touches on it. This means taking a last look at grammar, sentence structure, and organization. It also means making sure that your voice is coming through loud and clear. The best way to do this is to read your essay out loud. As you read, listen for any awkward phrases or choppy sentences. If you find any, take the time to revise them so that they flow more smoothly. In addition, pay attention to your tone of voice. Make sure that it’s consistent throughout the essay and that it matches the overall tone of the piece. By taking care to polish your essay, you’ll be sure to impress your readers and get the best possible grade.

Submit your entry on time

There is nothing worse than the sickening feeling you get in your stomach when you realize you’ve missed a deadline. Whether it’s turning in a project for work or school, or submitting an application for a job or scholarship, missing a deadline can have serious consequences. That’s why it’s important to always make sure you submit your work on time. In the case of scholarships, even the best essay in the world won’t win if it’s submitted late. So if you’re hoping to earn a scholarship, make sure you pay close attention to the deadline and submit your essay accordingly. With so much riding on the timely submission of your work, it’s just not worth taking the risk of missing a deadline.

Wrap up

In order to submit your best work, it is important to start early and revise often. By taking the time to get feedback from others and polish your essay until it’s perfect, you can be sure that your scholarship application will stand out from the rest. And don’t forget-always make sure to submit your essay on time.

Writing Contests – Poetry, Short Story, Essay, Screenwriting & More

On this page, you’ll find the web’s best and most updated selection of writing contests. If you’ve got a way with making your words come to life, try your hand at a poetry contest. If you’re a teen, there’s a special category of teen writing contests just for you. For everybody else, there’s a variety of other ways to test your writing skills, from essay contests to short story contests. Want to submit a contest? Simply click on our “Submit a Contest” button. Good luck everyone, and be sure to read our tips on how to win below!

7 Tips for Winning a Writing Contest

Are you interested in entering a writing contest, but don’t know how to win? After reading these seven tips, you’ll become a surefire contender for winning the top prize. 1…. Read more

Are you interested in entering a writing contest, but don’t know how to win? After reading these seven tips, you’ll become a surefire contender for winning the top prize.

1. Captivate from your first sentence

“The first sentence sets the tone for the entire piece.” You may have heard similar advice many times before, but it really does hold true of trying to produce a memorable piece of writing. Would you be inclined to continue reading a submission if the first line is dull, cliche, or doesn’t convey its intention effectively?

The harsh truth is that due to time constraints and the large volume of entries received, many writing contest judges simply flick through the submissions they receive. The golden handful that are read properly are the submissions that capture the reader from the very beginning. Of course, your writing should be captivating from the first word to the last, but especially in the case of a writing contest, it should be one of your top priorities to ensure that the judges give your piece the consideration it deserves.

2. Think outside the box

Think about this: Hundreds or thousands of other people are likely to apply for the same competition as you. This means your goal should be to make your submission stand out. How? Give the judges something to “chew on”. Whether it be a different perspective, an innovative idea or perhaps a controversial topic, your submission should be memorable.

Try to consider the given topic from a number of angles. Sure, it’s “safer” to take the usual angle to a topic if you’re confident you can do it well. But once you think about all the other people who took a similar one, it doesn’t seem like such a safe bet after all. Push yourself to take a different perspective. Another important tip is to stay away from cliched phrases or anything that sounds overused and stale. Remember, as long as you can back up what you say and convey your ideas effectively, adopting a unique approach is easy way to make your submission stand out.

3. Be consistent

Consistency is a fundamental tenet of solid writing. Without consistency, your piece will be challenging for the judges to read. In order to ensure your submission demonstrates consistency, consider the following areas:

Structure
Organize your ideas so that there is a clear flow and structure. This rule applies to any type of piece- from a nonfiction essay to a short story or poem. Structure is king.

Your argument
If you’re writing an essay or analysis, assert your standpoint or message from the beginning and ensure it is evident right through to the end. If you are arguing in favor of something, for example, don’t backtrack on your words later on in the piece. This is a common error of inexperienced writers, who have a tendency to flip flop on their views throughout. Be sure to highlight your standpoint with supporting evidence at all times.

Your plot and characters
If you’re writing a story, you will need to develop the plot and characters skillfully. It is important that you do not have any plot holes, as this will throw out the whole balance of your story. Your characters should consistently reflect the personality and behavioral characteristics you attached to them in all their actions and dialogue.

Editing
Your submission should have a uniform style, from punctuation to stylistic features like the font and headings. See Tip 5 and 6 for more information.

4. Emotionally engage

One of the hard and fast rules about writing well is to write in a way that emotionally engages the reader. Whatever topic you write about, try to hone in on an aspect which has the potential to tap into the reader’s experiences or bring about meaningful reaction in them. A judge is far more likely to remember your piece of writing if it prompted them to feel, think, or even reflect or question their own views.

Unless the competition calls for it, try not to make your writing too specific to yourself. Try to write in a way which will allow anyone who reads your submission to find something they can identify with, or at least relate to. For instance, instead of writing about the impact a certain policy has on you, write about how it has affected your town, city, or the country as a whole. Everyone likes being able to see themselves in a piece of writing- make sure your piece speaks to everyone.

5. Edit, edit, edit

Any writer will tell you that writing is only half the battle- editing is where the real beast lies. A simple way to impress the judges of a writing contest is to make sure you have read and reread your article for errors. And no, a quick once-over won’t cut it. You’ll need to be vigilant in your search for typos, punctuation errors, structural weaknesses, cliches, overused words and any other problems. Once you learn how to edit effectively, and become more confident doing it, editing your piece won’t seem nearly as confronting.

Even when it’s not explicitly stated in the competition guidelines that editing will be considered, you can be certain that any judge will look more favorably on a well-edited piece than a poorly edited one. You never know, if your piece is running head-to-head with another contestant’s for the top prize, a “simple” mistake could cost you the whole contest. Ignore proofreading at your own peril.

6. Get a fresh set of eyes

It may be daunting to show your submission to someone you’re close to, but having another set of eyes to look over your writing is invaluable. As any writer who has spent hours mulling over their piece will know, it’s difficult to detect your own errors or weaknesses.

When you ask someone to edit your work, it’s best to provide them with the competition guidelines so they know exactly what to be on the lookout for. If there is a particular area you are worried about, such as your punctuation or structure, let them know so they can better advise you. Receiving constructive criticism about your writing, and acting on it, is one of the best ways to improve your writing and have a good chance at winning a competition.

7. Mind your manners

Many contests require you to submit your entry by email, and this is where a lot of contestants fail to make a good impression. A surprising amount of participants simply attach the document without anything written in the body of the message. If a contest is by email submission, you need to follow proper etiquette. The following is a simple guide to writing an email to submit your piece to a writing competition:

  • Subject line: First, title your email clearly. Something simple as “[Name of competition] Submission” and your own name is usually fine. Some competitions will request you title your email something specific- so read the guidelines carefully!
  • Salutation: Open the body of your email with a salutation such as, “Dear [competition organization/person in charge]”.
  • Self intro: Next, provide a very brief self-introduction which states who you are and what you do (e.g. student, freelance writer).
  • Reason for emailing: Concisely explain that you are sending the email to enter their competition. Make sure to you specify the competition to which you submitting, as some organizations have a number of competitions running concurrently.
  • Final thanks: Thank the organization/person for the opportunity to enter this competition. If you want you can express that you’re looking forward to hearing from them further.
  • Sign off: End with a formal sign-off like “Yours sincerely/Kindest regards [your name]”

Here is a sample email:

[Email Subject: The Power of Science Competition Submission]

To whom it may concern at Sunflower Writing,

My name is James West, and I am completing my Bachelor of Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

I am writing to submit my entry to your writing competition, “The Power of Science”. My submission answers the question, “Which Scientific Development has had the Greatest Impact on the 21st Century?”

Please find my entry attached to this email.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to enter this competition.

Kindest,

James West.

Final words

So writers, read over these tips (a few times if you need to!), be confident, and get to it! Writing competitions are a fantastic opportunity to polish your writing skills and get some feedback on your writing. The chance to win some prize money is just the *icing on the cake.

*Yep, that’s a cliche there. Good spotting! For those who missed it, it’s back to Tip Number 2 for you!

Personal Essay Awards

ENTER NOW! Writer’s Digest’s newest competition, the Personal Essay Awards, is now open for entries. Winners of the competition will be announced in our May/June 2023 issue of Writer’s Digest.

WD-PersonalEssay-2022-LaunchImages-1100x615-EB

DEADLINE: September 1, 2022

We’re looking for personal essays! Think you can write a winning essay in 2,000 words or fewer? Enter the Writer’s Digest Personal Essay Awards for your chance to win $2,500 in cash, get published in Writer’s Digest magazine, and a paid trip to our ever-popular Writer’s Digest Conference!

Prizes

One Grand Prize Winner will receive:

  • $2,500 in cash
  • Their essay title published in Writer’s Digest magazine’s May/June 2023 issue
  • A paid trip to the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference, including a coveted Pitch Slam slot

The Second Place Winner will receive:

  • $1,000 in cash
  • Their essay title published in Writer’s Digest magazine’s May/June 2023 issue

The Third Place Winner will receive:

  • $500 in cash
  • Their essay title published in Writer’s Digest magazine’s May/June 2023 issue

Fourth through Tenth Place Winners will receive:

  • $100 in cash
  • Their essay titles published in Writer’s Digest magazine’s May/June 2023 issue

Eleventh through Twenty-Fifth Place Winners will receive:

  • A $50 gift certificate for writersdigestshop.com

How to Enter

ENTERING IS EASY!

Create your free Submittable account by clicking the SUBMIT button. If you already have a Submittable account, simply log in!

*NEW* You can now compete in multiple WD competitions with a single login! Check back often for an updated list of competitions.

When you are ready to submit your work to the WD Personal Essay Awards readers, you’ll want to have the following information available:

Your contact information (be careful that the information provided is accurate). Contact information is to be provided only on the submission form (not on the submission’s file upload). Time sensitive information such as credits and contact information (for prize distribution) is taken directly from the submission form. Due to the nature of deadlines, corrections to this information are not guaranteed.

Your PERSONAL ESSAY AWARDS submission file (see the PREPARING YOUR ENTRY tips for more information).

Your method of payment (see the ENTRY PRICING, SUBMISSION DEADLINES AND WINNER NOTIFICATION page for tips for all pricing and deadlines).

These 11 Essay Contests with Generous Prizes Will Change Your Life

Essay contests are unusual because to win them you have to use your words. If you are a student who aspires to become a journalist, novelist, or poet, then these essay contests are a stepping stone for you to make that dream a reality.

Essay Contests

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Essay contests often ask participants to answer a question in the most original and obvious way. However, each contest will have its own rules and regulations to fulfill. You may have to write an essay on a specific topic and meet word count limits. To enter an essay contest, you must have the ability to write something fresh.

There are several essay contests that are valid for students of all levels of education regardless of nationality. As long as you meet the specified requirements, you may register for one or more of the following essay contests.

1. FIRE Free Speech Essay Contest

FIRE is an organization that aims to defend and sustain individual rights at America’s colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience—the essential qualities of individual liberty and dignity.

In this contest, you will be asked to write an essay or persuasive letter in 700 to 900 words on the theme of current events, historical examples, your personal experiences, and other resources posted on the FIRE website. Registration for this contest closes on December 31 st , 2020 at 11:59 a.m. EST.

Who should apply?

Open to juniors and seniors in U.S. high schools, including home-schooled students, as well as U.S. citizens attending high school overseas.

What are the prizes of this contest?

One $10,000 first-place prize, one $ 5,000 second-place prize, three $1,000 third-place prizes, and four $500 prizes will be awarded.

2. Ayn Rand Institute Essay Contests

Have you ever read one of Ayn Rand’s thought-provoking novels? Now’s the time! Enter an Ayn Rand Institute essay contest and you’ll have a chance to win thousands of dollars in scholarship prize money.

ARI has held worldwide essay contests for students on Ayn Rand’s fiction for more than thirty years, awarding over $2 million in total prize money! To enter this contest, choose one of the three works of Ayn Rand fiction below and decide what theme you will cover in your essay by answering one of the questions posed on the essay contests web page.

You must sign up as a member of the ARI website to find out the deadlines for the contest.

Who should apply?

These essay contests are available for students who are interested in Ayn Rand’s work ranging from grade eight students to postgraduate students. Please note that, however, the eligibility for each contest is different.

What are the prizes of this contest?

Total prizes to be awarded to the winners are $30,000.

3. AFSA National High School Essay Contest

The United States Foreign Service—often referred to as America’s first line of defense—works to prevent conflict from breaking out abroad and threats from coming to our shores. Peacebuilders work on the ground to create the conditions for peace and resolve conflicts where they are most needed.

Successful essays will identify, in no more than 1,250 words, a situation where diplomats worked on a peacebuilding initiative with partners from the country/region in question, nongovernmental organizations, and other parts of the U.S. government, and then go on to analyze what characteristics and approaches made the enterprise a success.

The deadline for essay submission is April 5 th , 2021 at 11:59 p.m. EDT.

Who should apply?

Students whose parents are not in the Foreign Service are eligible to participate if they are in grades nine through twelve in any of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territories, or if they are U.S. citizens/lawful permanent residents attending high school overseas.

What are the prizes of this contest?

$2,500 will be awarded to the writer of the winning essay, in addition to an all-expense-paid trip to the nation’s capital from anywhere in the U.S. for the winner and his or her parents, and an all-expense-paid educational voyage courtesy of Semester at Sea. Runner-up receives $1,250 and full tuition to attend a summer session of the National Student Leadership Conference’s International Diplomacy program.

4. JASNA Essay Contests

Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) conducts an annual student essay contest to foster the study and appreciation of Jane Austen’s works in new generations of readers.

The 2021 Essay Contest topic is tied to the theme of our upcoming Annual General Meeting: “Jane Austen in the Arts.” It encompasses a wide variety of arts, including fine arts, performance arts, decorative arts, and crafts.

The deadline for the essay submissions is June 1 st , 2021.

Who should apply?

Students and home-schooled students enrolled at the high school level during the contest year, students enrolled in at least six credit hours of course work at a junior college, college, or university during the contest year, and students enrolled during the contest year in at least three credit hours of graduate course work at a college or university leading to an advanced degree are encouraged to apply.

Membership in JASNA is not required to enter the contest.

What are the prizes of this contest?

JASNA awards scholarships to winners in each of the three divisions:

  • First Place: $1,000 scholarship and free registration and two nights’ lodging for JASNA’s upcoming Annual General Meeting,
  • Second Place: $500 scholarship,
  • Third Place: $250 scholarship.

Winners and their mentors each receive a one-year JASNA membership. Besides, each winner receives a set of Norton Critical Editions of Jane Austen’s novels.

5. The Immerse Education Essay Competition

The Immerse Education Essay Competition provides the opportunity for students aged 13-18 to submit essay responses to a pre-set question relating to their chosen subject. The essay questions are pre-defined according to your age group and preferred subject. You are encouraged to tailor your essay response to reflect your interest in your chosen subject.

The application for the competition will be closed on January 5 th , 2021.

Who should apply?

The essay contests are available to students of all nationalities who will be aged 13-18 during the summer of 2021.

What are the prizes of this contest?

First-place winners will be awarded a 100% scholarship to study their chosen subject with Immerse. There will be 10 first place winners across the Immerse Education Competitions. Runners up will be awarded partial scholarships of up to 70% to study their chosen subject with Immerse.

6. Fraser Institute Student Essay Contest

Showcase your ideas on public policy and the role of markets by entering this essay competition. Construct an essay exploring the importance of Joseph Schumpeter’s concept of creative destruction in understanding entrepreneurialism and economic progress in today’s world. You may choose to analyze a particular industry or business (during any time-period) as a case study to bolster your essay.

The essay submission for the contest will be closed on June 1 st , 2021.

Who should apply?

This essay contest is open to high school, undergraduate, and postgraduate students.

What are the prizes of this contest?

$9,000 in cash prizes will be awarded $3,000 of this designated just for high school students. Winning essays may be published in Fraser Institute journals and authors will have the opportunity to experience the peer-review process.

7. Optimist International Essay Contests

This essay contest is sponsored by Optimist International to give young people the opportunity to write about their own opinions regarding the world in which they live. The approach can encompass a young person’s personal experience, the experience of their country, or a more historical perspective.

In addition to developing skills for written expression, participants also have the opportunity to win a college scholarship. The topic for the academic year of 2020-2021 is “Reaching your Dreams by Choosing Optimism”. All essay contests are held by early February.

Who should apply?

Youth under the age of 19 as of October 1 st , 2020 (and is not enrolled as a degree seeking student of a post-secondary institution) in the United States, Canada, or the Caribbean are eligible for entry. There is no minimum age.

What are the prizes of this contest?

Winners have the opportunity to receive scholarships of up to $2,500.

8. 2021 We the Students Essay Contest

We the Students Essay Contest expects the participants to explore the relationship between equality and justice in an essay with 500 to 800 words. Applicants are encouraged to bring emotion, creativity, specific examples, and well-researched facts into what they write. The deadline for entry is April 15 th , 2021 at 11:59 p.m. PT.

Who should apply?

Students in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Armed Forces schools abroad, and students in United States territories are eligible to participate in the contest. In addition to going to school in a contested state, you must be in grades 8-12 and between the ages of 14-19.

What are the prizes of this contest?

A total of $7,500 will be awarded to the first winner. The second winner and honorable mentions will receive $1,500 and $500, respectively.

9. Student Essay Contest Sponsored by AWM and Math for America

To increase awareness of women’s ongoing contributions to the mathematical sciences, the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) and Math for America co-sponsor an essay contest for biographies of contemporary women mathematicians and statisticians in academic, industrial, and government careers.

The essays will be based primarily on an interview with a woman currently working in a mathematical sciences career. Essay submissions are open from December 1 st to February 1 st .

Who should apply?

Participation is open to middle school, high school, and undergraduate students.

What are the prizes of this contest?

The winners (including honorable mentions) receive a monetary prize, a membership in the AWM, a certificate, and their name and affiliation published in the Newsletter for the AWM. Also, all of the essays are published online and the essay of the Grand Prize winner is published in the AWM Newsletter.

10. Civics Education Essay Contest

Every year, in honor of Law Day, NCSC hosts a Civics Education Essay Contest. The goal of the contest is to get students engaged and ponder the importance of civics at home and in the classroom. The contest question is based on the American Bar Association’s annual theme. ABA’s 2021 Law Day theme is “Advancing the Rule of Law Now.” Submissions are due by 11:59 p.m. EST on February 26 th , 2021.

Who should apply?

Students from grades three through twelfth are invited to enter these essay contests.

What are the prizes of this contest?

For the 9th-12th grade winners:

  • One (1) First Place: $1,000
  • One (1) Second Place: $500
  • One (1) Third Place: $250

For the 6th-8th grade winners:

  • One (1) First Place: $400
  • One (1) Second Place: $200
  • One (1) Third Place: $100

For the 3rd-5th grade winners:

  • One (1) First Place: $300
  • One (1) Second Place: $150
  • One (1) Third Place: $100

11. St. Gallen Symposium Global Essay Competition

Compete in this Global Essay Competition and be one of the top 100 contributors to qualify for all-expenses covered participation as a Leader of Tomorrow in the world’s premier opportunity for cross-generational debates: The St. Gallen Symposium. Submissions are due by February 1 st , 2021, 11:59 p.m. last time zone (UTC-12).

However, if you are not a fan of essay contests, then this no-essay scholarship might interest you: Bold No Essay Community Scholarship: Easy Scholarship to Enter in 2020.

Who should apply?

To be eligible, you must be enrolled in a graduate or postgraduate program (master level or higher) in any field of study at a regular university and born in 1991 or later.

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