upcoming essay writing competition

Essay Writing Contests: The Ultimate List

upcoming essay writing competition

Did you know that the very first recorded essay contest can be traced back to the early 16th century, initiated by none other than the renowned philosopher and essayist Michel de Montaigne? In 1580, Montaigne published his collection of essays titled 'Essais,' which not only marked a pivotal moment in the evolution of the essay as a literary form but also contained an implicit challenge to his readers. He encouraged them to engage with his ideas and respond by writing their own essays, essentially laying the groundwork for what we now recognize as essay contests.

Fast forward to the vibrant year of 2023, and this tradition of writing competitions has evolved into a global phenomenon, offering emerging writers from all walks of life a captivating platform to share their thoughts, emotions, and narratives with the world.

Essay Writing Contests: Short Description

In this article, our essay writer will explore the world of essay writing contests, presenting you with an exclusive selection of the most promising opportunities for the year ahead. Each of these competitions not only provides a stage to demonstrate your writing prowess but also offers a unique avenue for personal growth, self-expression, and intellectual exploration, all while competing for impressive writing awards and well-deserved recognition. Whether you're an emerging talent or a seasoned wordsmith, these contests are poised to be the catalyst for your creative aspirations in 2023.

Exploring Top Essay Writing Contests for Participation

If you enjoy expressing your thoughts and ideas through writing, you're in for a treat. Essay writing competitions in 2023 offer you a chance to do just that and win some great prizes in the process. We've put together a list of contests specially designed for students like you. These contests cover various interesting essay topics , giving you a unique opportunity to showcase your writing skills and potentially earn cash prizes or scholarships. So, let's explore these fantastic opportunities to share your voice and make your mark in the world of writing.

Essay Writing Contests

Pivotal Essay Contest

Pivotal Essay Contest invites pre-university students worldwide to join a transformative platform that transcends traditional contests. It's an opportunity to showcase critical and creative thinking skills while addressing global challenges. The top three entrants compete for a prize pool of $25,000, while the top 50 finalists gain access to the prestigious Pivotal Library. The most exceptional 5% earn an exclusive invitation to the intellectual haven of the Pivotal Circle, fostering connections with peers who share their dedication to making a difference. And if you're determined to learn how to overcome writer's block for this contest, we have a wealth of expert tips and strategies to guide you through the process!

Deadline: October 10, 2023

  • 1st Place: $15,000
  • 2nd Place: $7,000
  • 3rd Place: $3,000

Native Voices Award

Don't miss your chance to share your unique voice and stories with the world while preserving your copyrights with the Native Voices Award competition. Open to individuals 18 years or older, particularly indigenous storytellers from Native American, First Nation Australian, and Polynesian communities. Submissions can include an original, unpublished work in English, such as a short story collection, flash fiction, nonfiction essays, scripts, poetry, or visual art collection. Authors and artists must be able to receive prizes through Paypal or an Amazon gift card and permit the winning submission to be published in the Kinsman Quarterly, promotional announcements, and social media outlets. Copyrights for the individual submission remain with the author or artist, while copyrights for the anthology as a collection are reserved by Kinsman Avenue Publishing, Inc.

Deadline: October 31, 2023

  • First Place: $500 cash prize and publication in the Kinsman Quarterly and Native Voices
  • Second Place: $250 cash prize and publication in the Kinsman Quarterly and Native Voices
  • Third Place: $100 cash prize and publication in the Kinsman Quarterly and Native Voices
  • Six Finalists: $25 gift card and publication in the Kinsman Quarterly and Native Voices
  • Six Honorary Mentions: Publication in the Kinsman Quarterly and Native Voices

John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest

High school students across the United States are invited to participate in one of the best writing competitions 2023 - the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest. Craft an original essay, between 700 and 1,000 words that delves into acts of political courage by U.S. elected officials from 1917 onward. Explore their principled decisions, despite political pressures, for the greater good. Utilize a minimum of five varied sources and adhere to contest requirements. This opportunity is open to high school students in the U.S. and those studying abroad, except past winners and finalists, as well as employees of John Hancock Financial Services and their families.

Contest Topic: Describe and analyze an act of political courage by a U.S. elected official who served during or after 1917.

Deadline: Submissions open on September 1, 2023, with a deadline of January 12, 2024.

  • First Place: $10,000
  • Second Place: $3,000
  • Five Finalists: $1,000 each
  • Ten Semifinalists: $100 each

The AIIRA Writing Contest

The A.I. Institute for Resilient Agriculture is dedicated to advancing A.I. in agriculture. This contest seeks to spark discussions, promote A.I. education, inspire creativity, and provoke nuanced thought about A.I.'s role in shaping careers and industries.

Contest Topic: How will AI change the landscape of your career within the next decade?

Deadline: September 30, 2023.

  • First Place: $500 USD
  • Second Place: $400 USD (x2)
  • Third Place: $250 USD (x3)

OxBright Essay Competition 

Join the OxBright Essay Competition 2023 by submitting your essay exploring the role of long-term thinking in fostering optimism about the future, including the perspective of women in STEM and various subject categories. Being 15-18, you stand a chance to win over £100,000 worth of academic prizes, including exclusive opportunities and recognition. Submit your entry by September 30, 2023, and get ready for a chance to shape the future.

Deadline : September 30, 2023

  • Most Outstanding Essay: Win a place on the Oxford Scholastica Academy's residential Oxford summer school worth £6,495.
  • Best Essay (per subject category): Get an OxBright online course or internship worth £995.
  • Highly Commended: The top 20% of entries receive a certificate of achievement

Essay Writing Contests

Bennington Young Writers Awards

The Bennington Young Writers Awards celebrate the literary talent of high school students, offering recognition and substantial prizes. Whether you excel in nonfiction, fiction, or poetry, this competition welcomes fiction writers to submit their original work. Not only can you win up to $1,000, but exceptional students may also secure scholarships valued at up to $60,000 for Bennington College.

Deadline : November 1, 2023

  • First-place winners in each category: $1,000
  • Second-place winners: $500
  • Third-place winners: $250

Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest

The Atlas Shrugged essay writing contest, inspired by Ayn Rand's epic masterpiece, is a global platform for students to explore and express their ideas. Atlas Shrugged is a heroic mystery novel written by Ayn Rand. Participants are invited to choose a prompt and craft an 800-1,600-word essay that delves into the novel's themes and philosophy. This contest is open to students from around the world, offering them the opportunity to engage with Rand's thought-provoking work and compete for significant cash prizes.

Deadline : November 6, 2023

  • First prize: $10,000
  • Three second prizes: $2,000 each
  • Five third prizes: $1,000 each
  • 25 finalists: $100 each
  • 50 semifinalists: $50 each

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The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers

This is one of the top poetry contests, hosted annually by the esteemed Kenyon Review, and is a celebration of young literary talent. Established in 2007, this prize aims to honor exceptional young poets who exhibit promise and creativity. Winners of this prestigious prize not only receive scholarships to the Young Writers Workshop but also the opportunity to see their work in print through publication. If you're in grades 10 or 11 and have a passion for poetry, this competition is the perfect platform to showcase your skills and gain recognition.

Deadline : November 1-30, 2023

  • Scholarships to Young Writers Workshop
  • Publication

The Heartland Review 

ElizabethTown Review Press invites writers to submit their best creative nonfiction pieces during their Fall 2023 open call. With a generous word limit and an open canvas for topics, your work can stand alone or be a glimpse of your larger literary journey. Submissions must not exceed 5,000 words and can be flash pieces or chapters from your unpublished book (in the U.S.). Upon publication, rights revert back to you. Be part of the first 50 submissions in August and September for your chance to be featured in our upcoming journal.

Deadline : November 15, 2023

Book Prize - Unleash Press

Calling all authors, Unleash Press invites submissions of novels, short story collections, and creative nonfiction manuscripts across a diverse array of genres, including Essays, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Memoirs, Novels, Short Stories, and Nonfiction. If you're looking for resources like free Harvard online courses to hone your writing skills, consider entering this competition. The coveted Editors' Prize offers not only a $1,000 cash reward but also the prestigious opportunity to secure a publication contract with Unleash Press, catapulting your work into the literary spotlight. Plus, the winner receives ten printed copies of their final book to proudly share with friends and family. With additional prospects for outstanding manuscripts, this competition opens doors for both emerging and seasoned writers.

Deadline : December 15, 2023

  • $1,000 cash prize
  • Publication contract with Unleash Press
  • Ten printed copies of the final book

Essay Writing Contests

Editor's Choice Award

Are you a poet or writer with a penchant for pushing the boundaries of traditional genres? The Editor's Choice Award beckons you to submit your most intriguing hybrid creations—whether they are lyric essays, prose poems, short-shorts, collages, or micro-memoirs, and let your imagination roam freely. Get set to participate as the competition swings open its doors for entries starting May 1, 2023. With an impressive word limit of 8,000, there's ample room for your artistic expression.

Deadline : October 16, 2023

Anthology Poetry Competition 

Renowned as one of the premier writing contests of 2023, the Anthology Poetry Competition stands as a beacon for poets seeking recognition and a platform for their work. Established with the noble goal of recognizing and fostering excellence in the art of poetry, this competition welcomes original and previously unpublished poems in the English language, transcending borders and inviting poets from all corners of the world to participate. Your poetic creations should not exceed 40 lines, giving you the canvas to craft a concise and impactful piece. The competition is open to multiple entries per person, each requiring a separate entry form and a modest entry fee of €18.

Deadline : October 31, 2023

  • First Place: €1,000 cash prize + the honor of seeing their work published in an upcoming Anthology issue
  • Second Place: €250
  • Third Place: €150

The Chilling Pen Award

The Chilling Pen Award 2023 invites writers from across the globe to explore the multifaceted theme of betrayal in both fiction and nonfiction pieces, transcending personal, political, and societal dimensions. If you have an interest in participating in essay writing contests, this competition offers a unique platform. With a maximum word limit of 1,000 words and an open embrace of all genres and styles, entrants are encouraged to craft original, unpublished works. Submissions must be free from A.I. assistance and can be submitted via our designated form on Google Drive. Winners will be revealed on October 31, 2023, with first, second, and third-place entries showcased on our website and social media platforms.

Deadline : October 1, 2023

  • $500, $300, $100

The SmokeLong Grand Micro Competition 

The SmokeLong Quarterly Micro Fiction Writing Competition beckons writers of literary fiction, nonfiction, and hybrid genres to craft compelling micro-narratives of up to 400 words (excluding the title). The entry fee is a modest $13, and submissions can be in any language accompanied by an English translation, fostering inclusivity. Authors and translators may equally share the prize money. Entries, both previously published and unpublished, are welcome, with blind judging conducted by a panel of 15 SmokeLong editors from around the world. The competition closes on November 10, 2023, and all shortlisted entries will be featured in the December 2023 issue of SmokeLong Quarterly.

Deadline : November 10, 2023

  • Grand Prize of $1500
  • Second Place at $500
  • Third Place at $300

The Moth Nature Writing Prize

A beacon among the notable writing contests of 2023, The Moth Nature Writing Prize is a celebration of the exquisite craft of nature writing. This prestigious award, open to writers of short stories, essays, and poetry, seeks to foster a deeper connection with the natural world. With a generous word limit of 4,000 words, entrants have ample space to craft their narratives. Open to individuals aged sixteen and above, as long as the work is original and previously unpublished, this competition stands as a testament to the harmonious blend of literary excellence and reverence for the natural world.

  • €1,000 cash prize for the 1st prizewinner + an enriching week at Circle of Misse in France
  • A 2nd prize of €500
  • A 3rd prize of €250

In 2023, the world of writing competitions offers a diverse tapestry of opportunities for writers across the globe. From exploring the depths of nature to delving into the mysteries of microfiction, these competitions beckon with enticing prizes and platforms for your creative voice. So, pick your favorite, sharpen your pen, and embark on a journey of literary excellence!

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Writing Contests, Grants & Awards

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The Writing Contests, Grants & Awards database includes details about the creative writing contests—including poetry contests, short story competitions, essay contests, awards for novels, and more—that we’ve published in Poets & Writers Magazine during the past year. We carefully review the practices and policies of each contest before including it. Ours is the most trusted resource for legitimate writing contests available anywhere.

Coffee-House Poetry

Troubadour international poetry prize.

A prize of £2,000 (approximately $2,548) is given annually for a single poem. A second-place prize of £1,000 (approximately $1,274) is also given. Both winners receive...

Friends of American Writers

Literature awards.

A prize of $2,500 is given annually for a book of fiction or creative nonfiction published during the current year that is set in the Midwest or by a writer who is a resident...

Story Foundation Prize

A prize of $1,500 and publication in Story is given annually for a short story. Using only the online submission system, submit a short story of no more than 10,000...

Willow Books

Three prizes of $1,000 each and publication by Willow Books are given annually for a book of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction by BIPOC writers. Using only the online...

Center for Book Arts

Poetry chapbook contest.

A prize of $500 and letterpress publication by the Center for Book Arts is given annually for a poetry chapbook. The winner will also receive 10 copies of their chapbook, an...

Gival Press

Poetry award.

A prize of $1,000 and publication by Gival Press will be given biennially for a book of poetry. Beverly Burch will judge. Submit a manuscript of at least 45 pages with a $20...

Longleaf Press

Book contest.

A prize of $1,000, publication by Longleaf Press, and 25 author copies is given annually for a poetry collection. The winner will also be invited to give a virtual reading in...

Codhill Press

Pauline uchmanowicz poetry award.

A prize of $1,000, publication by Codhill Press, and 25 author copies is given annually for a poetry collection. James Sherwood will judge. Submit a manuscript of 48 to 70...

Virginia Commonwealth University

Cabell first novelist award.

A prize of at least $3,000 is given annually for a debut novel published during the current year. The winner will also receive lodging and travel expenses to attend the First...

Poetry Prize

A prize of €6,000 (approximately $6,572) and online publication in the Irish Times is given annually for a single poem. Three runner-up prizes of €1,000 (approximately...

Cleveland Foundation

Anisfield-wolf book awards.

Three to four prizes of $10,000 each are given annually for a poetry collection, a book of fiction, and a book of nonfiction (including creative nonfiction) published during...

Livingston Press

Tartt fiction award.

A prize of $1,000, publication by Livingston Press, and 60 author copies is given annually for a first collection of short stories by a U.S. citizen. Submit a manuscript of 160...

Poetry Contest

A prize of $1,000 and publication in Crosswinds is given annually for a single poem. April Ossmann will judge. Submit up to three poems of no more than 60 lines each...

Baton Rouge Area Foundation

Ernest j. gaines award for literary excellence.

A prize of $15,000 is given annually to an emerging African American writer for a book of fiction published in the current year. The winner also receives travel and lodging...


Plentitudes prizes in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

Three prizes of $1,000 each and publication in Plentitudes will be given annually for a single poem, a short story, and an essay. Mahtem Shiferraw will judge in poetry...

Award for Short Fiction

A prize of $1,000, publication by Press 53, and 53 author copies is given annually for a story collection. Claire V. Foxx will judge. Submit a manuscript of 100 to 250 pages...

Short Fiction Contest for Emerging Writers

A prize of $1,500 and publication in Boulevard is given annually for a short story by a writer who has not published a nationally distributed book. The editors will...

Black Caucus of the American Library Association

Literary awards.

Four prizes of $1,000 each are given annually for a poetry collection, a first novel, a book of fiction, and a book of nonfiction (including creative nonfiction) by African...

Poetry Society of America

Robert h. winner memorial award.

A prize of $2,500 and publication on the Poetry Society of America website is given annually to a poet over 40 who has published no more than one book. Nathan McClain will...

Lascaux Review

Lascaux prize in short fiction.

A prize of $1,000 and publication in Lascaux Review is given annually for a short story. Previously published and unpublished stories are eligible. Using only the...

Florida Review

Jeanne leiby memorial chapbook contest.

A prize of $1,000 and publication in Florida Review is given annually for a chapbook of short fiction, short nonfiction, or graphic narrative. Submit a manuscript of...

Four Quartets Prize

A prize of $20,000 is given annually for a unified and complete sequence of poems published in the United States in a print or online journal, a chapbook, or a book during the...

Tupelo Press

Dorset prize.

A prize of $3,000, publication by Tupelo Press, and 20 author copies is given annually for a poetry collection. The winner also receives a two-week residency at Gentle House in...

American Library Association

W.y. boyd literary award.

A prize of $5,000 is given annually for a novel published in the current year that is set in a period when the United States was at war. Publishers or authors may submit seven...

Michigan Quarterly Review

Jesmyn ward prize in fiction.

A prize of $2,000 and publication in Michigan Quarterly Review is given annually for a short story. David Lynn will judge. Using only the online submission system,...

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The Best Writing Contests of 2023

Writing competitions curated by Reedsy

  • Children's

Flash Fiction

  • Non-fiction
  • Science Fiction
  • Science Writing
  • Script Writing
  • Short Story
  • Young Adult

Manage a competition? Submit it here

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Showing 643 contests

The reedsy prompts contest.

Every Friday, Reedsy sends out five writing prompts. Enter your response within a week for a chance at $250. Winners may also be included in a future issue of Reedsy’s literary magazine, Prompted.

Additional prizes

$25 credit toward Reedsy editorial services

Entry requirements

Deadline: December 31, 2023

Fiction, Short Story

Poems on the Move

Guernsey International Poetry Competition

Open to poets worldwide, the competition is divided into three classes, Open (which carries a first prize of £1000), Channel Islands (£250) and Young Poet (£250). Entries must be no longer than 14 lines and must fit on a single A4 page. There will be prizes for first, second and third in each class and these poems and another 12 will be part of the Poems on the Move display, at Guernsey Airport and other island sites as well as on Guernsey buses.

2nd: £500 | 3rd: £250

Deadline: January 15, 2024

Honest Holiday Haiku

Gotham Writers Workshop

The holidays are a time of glad tidings and good cheer and, if we're honest, some not-so-glad tidings as well. In the spirit of Scrooge, Santa, and everything in between, we invite you to write your most honest holiday haiku. A reminder: a haiku consists of 5 syllables in the first line, 7 syllables in the second line, and 5 in the third line.

Free class from Gotham Writers Workshop

Publication on website

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: February 29, 2024

First Chapter + Synopsis Competition

Fiction Factory

Why not enter the Fiction Factory First Chapter Competition? Send us your first chapter + a 1 page synopsis (if your first chapter is more than 5000 words, send it with the 5000 word point clearly marked). First Prize: £500 + an appraisal and a reading by a top London Literary Agent. All short-listed entrants will receive a free appraisal. Appraisals: For an extra fee, £20, we will write a comprehensive appraisal of your chapter. Results will be published in July, 2024

A reading by a top London Literary Agent plus publication

Fiction, Novel

Heroica Poetry Prize

Heroica is delighted to announce the launch of our new Poetry Prize. Heroica is a global storytelling platform dedicated to sharing stories about all aspects of gender oppression. Stories that are real, inspiring, challenging and relatable. Your story matters.

2nd: £50 | 3rd: £25 | Publication in anthology

Elegant Literature's Award For New Writers

Elegant Literature

One of the largest awards open to unpublished writers, and the only one closed to professionals. We are the first magazine to pay pro rates and only accept submissions from new writers, putting over $100k into the hands of emerging talent around the globe. One new writer receives the grand prize. We also choose the best stories, pay the authors professional rates, and publish them in our magazine. December's guest judge is award-winning author Lindz McLeod.

Paid publication, 25 x $20 USD | Free entry to Novelist Accelerator | Now Novel Package

Deadline: January 01, 2024

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

Coming Home

Oprelle Publications

What does home look like to you? Is it an old farmhouse, a certain person, a childhood bedroom, a river you run to? Think about when you feel most rooted. Where in that world that you feel most at peace, most yourself? A home doesn’t have to be a building with four walls. It can be a state of being. Write a poem that takes us there with you. This Holiday 2023 “COMING HOME” Contest is 15.00 to Enter. All submissions must be received by December 15th, 2023.

2nd: $100 | 3rd: $50 | Publication in anthology

Deadline: December 15, 2023

Universe of Threats Natural Disaster Writing Contest

CAPTRS is building a catalog of threats, called the “Universe of Threats,” which will be used to prepare decision makers for future threats. We invite you to submit a 2,500 word or less story describing a threat scenario related to natural disasters, including floods, wildfires, hurricanes or another natural disaster of your choosing.

2nd: $2,500 | 3rd: $1,000 | Publication on CAPTRS website

Deadline: January 31, 2024

Fiction, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Short Story

Kentucky Visions Short Story Contest

Bluegrass Writers Coalition

The Kentucky Visions Short Story Contest, an annual contest designed to highlight Kentucky’s rich literary talent and to celebrate the best in short fiction written by Kentuckians or about our beloved Bluegrass State.

2nd: $250 | 3rd: $100 | Publication in anthology

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story

Fiction Factory Flash Fiction

This is an international competition - we welcome entries from around the world. Maximum Word count: 1000. Stories may be on any theme. Entries must be previously unpublished. The deadline is 31st January, 2024 and results will be be announced by April 2024. Discounts for multiple entries - see website for details. Minimum age: 16 years. Children's and YA cannot be accepted sadly Each entry will receive acknowledgement and all contestants will be informed of results.

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Crime, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller

FFF Competition 19

Free Flash Fiction

The Bi-monthly Free Flash Fiction Competition promotes the work of flash fiction authors. The winner of the current competition will be invited to be the judge for the next competition. Submit a flash fiction piece between 100 and 300 words, on any theme.

2x Highly Recommended £30.00 | 2x Shortlisted £20

Deadline: December 23, 2023

Witcraft Monthly Humour Competition

Send us your skillfully written stories that are brief, humorous and engaging, with the emphasis on wit, word play, absurdity and inspired nonsense. Whether your story is designed to raise a smile or a belly laugh, we want stories that are a refuge from the relentless barrage of negativity, angst, war and climate catastrophe that dominates the web.

2nd: AUD $20 | 3rd: AUD $10

Flash Fiction, Humor

International Essay Competition 2023/24

Avernus Education

Welcome to our prestigious International Essay Competition. At Avernus Education, we are thrilled to provide a platform for young minds to showcase their prowess in Medicine, Engineering, Law, Economics, Psychology, History and Politics. These varied subject categories underscore the importance of interdisciplinary study, a crucial foundation for future leaders in our increasingly interconnected world. Winners receive an exclusive Avernus Education Scholarship worth over £5000 - granting them free entrance to our exclusive summer camp at Oxford University! Outstanding Runners Up receive 5 hours worth of Credits for Avernus Education courses, conferences and tutoring services.

100% Scholarship Award to our Oxford University Summer Programme (worth £5995)

Partial scholarship

Deadline: February 19, 2024

The Summit Series Fiction Book Contest

Summit Series of CMICH Press

Are you or have you ever been a resident of Michigan? Do you have a fiction book manuscript searching for a home? If so, please submit your work to the first annual Summit Series book contest of CMICH Press! This year’s focus is Michigan writers, and the winner will be published by the press in 2024. The deadline is January 1, 2024. Please see our website for more details. We look forward to reading your work.

Book publication

The Letter Review Prize for Reprints

Letter Review

We're seeking Stories, Poems, and works of Nonfiction which have been previously published, and are not currently available to read online. Far too often excellent writing experiences a brief moment in the sun, and disappears for good (either out of print, behind a paywall, or to sit on a dusty shelf). As part of The Letter Review's committment to open access, we are here to celebrate these works, and give them a second chance by republishing them online, hopefully assisting them to shine forever.

$1000 (shared by 3 winners)


Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Short Story

Letter Review Prize for Manuscripts

The Letter Review Prize for Manuscripts (Fiction, Poetry, Nonfiction) is open to writers from anywhere in the world. Three Winners are awarded and have extracts published. 20 entries are Longlisted. Winners receive letter of recommendation for publishers.

Crime, Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Novel, Poetry, Romance, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult

Letter Review Prize for Nonfiction

The Letter Review Prize for Nonfiction (0 - 5000 words) is open to writers from anywhere in the world. Accepting most forms of Nonfiction. Three winners are published and every entry is considered for publication. 20 entries are longlisted.

Essay, Memoir, Non-fiction, Humor

Letter Review Prize for Short Fiction

The Letter Review Prize for Short Fiction (0 - 5000 words) is open to writers from anywhere in the world and has no theme or genre restrictions. Three Winners are published and every entry is considered for publication. 20 entries are longlisted.

Flash Fiction, Short Story, Fiction

The Letter Review Prize for Poetry

The Letter Review Prize for Poetry (up to 70 lines) is open to writers from anywhere in the world and has no theme or style restrictions. Three winners are published and every entry is considered for publication. 20 entries are longlisted.

Letter Review Prize for Short Stories

The Letter Review Prize for Short Stories (1000-3000 words) is open to writers from anywhere in the world and has no theme or genre restrictions. Winners are published and every entry is considered for publication. 20 entries are Longlisted.

$1000 prize pool

2nd: $250 | 3rd: $150

Oxford Flash Fiction Prize 2024

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 are celebrating one of the newest forms in literature – flash fiction.

2nd Prize: £200 | 3rd Prize: £100 | New Voice Prize: £200

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

Quantum Shorts

Centre for Quantum Technologies

Complexity and uncertainty are part and parcel of the quantum world. Plot a tale inspired by quantum physics to enter the Quantum Shorts flash fiction competition. Entries must include the phrase “nobody said this was going to be easy” and be no longer than 1000 words. Enter by the deadline for a chance to win prizes!

Certificate and engraved trophy

Deadline: January 08, 2024

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

LGBTQIA+ Literary Success Grants

Georgia Writers Association

The LGBTQIA+ Literary Success Grant will be awarded annually in the categories of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and screenwriting. The purpose of the grants is to elevate, encourage, and inspire the voices of young queer writers in Georgia.

Scholarship to the annual Red Clay Writers Conference

Deadline: January 12, 2024

Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Script Writing

Trio Award for First or Second Book

Trio House Press

The Trio Award for First or Second Book includes $1,000, publication, and twenty books. The Trio Award for First or Second Book is only open to poets with less than two books published.

Deadline: April 30, 2023 (Expired)

The Pinch Literary Awards & Page Prize

The Pinch Literary Journal

The 2023 Pinch Literary Awards accepts poetry and fiction. The 2023 Page Prize accepts non-fiction.

$2000 for poetry & fiction winners

$1000 for Page Prize winner

Deadline: March 31, 2023 (Expired)

Fiction, Poetry, Short Story, Non-fiction

NOWW 25th International Writing Contest

Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop (NOWW)

A Canadian contest with an international flair. As part of our 25th anniversary celebration, we have increased the prize total to $1800 over six major categories: poetry, short fiction, creative non-fiction, crime fiction, literary critical writing, and The Bill MacDonald prize for prose (A Northwestern Ontario setting must be central to the work).

Publication in NOWW magazine

Deadline: February 28, 2023 (Expired)

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

Stories Out of School

The Academy for Teachers

A flash fiction contest sponsored by The Academy for Teachers and Electric Literature. The story’s protagonist, or its narrator, must be a K-12 teacher.

Deadline: September 01, 2021 (Expired)

The Rhys Davies Short Story Competition 2024

Swansea University’s Cultural Institute

The Rhys Davies Short Story Competition recognises the very best unpublished short stories in English in any style and on any subject up to a maximum of 5,000 words by writers in / from Wales. Entrants must have been born in Wales, lived in Wales for 2 years or more, or currently be living in Wales.

Publication in short story anthology | 11x Runners Up: £100 and publication in short story anthology

Deadline: February 15, 2024

The Elmbridge Literary Competition 2023-24

The R C Sherriff Trust

"Reputation is an idle and most false imposition, oft got without merit and lost without deserving." - William Shakespeare For some, it is a lifetime’s pursuit, often slipping through their grasp while others see it fall into their hands by mere chance. However achieved, through talent or luck, Fame can be an ill-fated prize. The 19th Elmbridge Literary Competition, run in partnership by The R C Sherriff Trust and Elmbridge Borough Council, is looking for short stories and poems on the theme of the double-edged sword that is ‘FAME’.

Published chapbook

Deadline: February 23, 2024

Fiction, Poetry, Short Story

Literary and Photographic Contest 2023-2024

Hispanic Culture Review

As we move forward we carry our culture wherever we go. It keeps us alive. This is why we propose the theme to be “¡Hacia delante!”. A phrase that means to move forward. This year we ask that you think about the following questions: What keeps you moving forward? What do you carry with you going into the future? How do you celebrate your successes, your dreams, and your culture?

Publication in magazine

Deadline: February 07, 2024

Essay, Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, Poetry

True Love on Tapas

Tapas Entertainment

Get ready to ignite your passion for storytelling! Tapas is thrilled to announce our first novel contest for romance writers: The True Love Webnovel Contest. Up for grabs: $150,000 in minimum guarantees for 15 winners!

Fiction, Romance, Young Adult

ReadWrite Strategies Funny Workplace Anthology Contest

ReadWrite Strategies

Please submit funny, creative nonfiction stories 300-1200 words in length, set in or relating to work. If it makes us laugh, it works. No entry fee and submit as many times as you want before December 18th deadline. Prizes are: $500 and a print copy of the book for first place, $200 and a print copy for second place, and $100 and a print copy for 3rd, 4th, and 5th places. All featured stories will receive a digital copy of the book on publication. The best submissions will be featured in an anthology of funny workplace stories.

2nd: 200 and print copy | 3rd, 4th, & 5th: $100 and print copy

Deadline: December 18, 2023

Humor, Non-fiction

Not Quite Write Prize for Flash Fiction

Not Quite Write Podcast

A flash fiction competition with a twist! Entrants will be given two writing prompts and one "anti-prompt" and will have 60 hours to write and submit a 500-word piece of flash fiction. Open to all ages and abilities.

Publication on podcast and website

Deadline: January 21, 2024

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

Askew's Word on the Lake Writing Contest

Shuswap Association of Writers

Whether you’re an established or emerging writer, the Askew’s Word on the Lake Writing Contest has a place for you. Part of the Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival in Salmon Arm, BC, the contest is open to submissions in short fiction (up to 2,000 words), nonfiction (up to 2,000 words), and poetry (up to three one-page poems).

Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Essay, Memoir, Short Story

Clash of the Query Letters

Darling Axe Editing

Our judge, Michelle Barker, will be asking herself one question: does this query letter convince me that I'm in the hands of an adept novelist with a unique and engaging story to tell?

CAD $200 for 2nd place, $100 for 3rd place

Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, Novel, Crime, Fantasy, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Novella, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult

Discover the finest writing contests of 2023 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 2023 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 2023

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.

Free online courses

On Writing:

How to Craft a Killer Short Story

The Non-Sexy Business of Writing Non-Fiction

How to Write a Novel

Understanding Point of View

Developing Characters That Your Readers Will Love

Writing Dialogue That Develops Plot and Character

Stop Procrastinating! Build a Solid Writing Routine

On Editing:

Story Editing for Authors

How to Self-Edit Like a Pro

Novel Revision: Practical Tips for Rewrites

How to Write a Short Story in 7 Steps

How to Write a Novel in 15 Steps

Literary Devices and Terms — 35+ Definitions With Examples

10 Essential Fiction Writing Tips to Improve Your Craft

How to Write Dialogue: 8 Simple Rules and Exercises

8 Character Development Exercises to Help You Nail Your Character

Bonus resources

200+ Short Story Ideas

600+ Writing Prompts to Inspire You

100+ Creative Writing Exercises for Fiction Authors

Story Title Generator

Pen Name Generator

Character Name Generator

After you submit to a writing competition in 2023

It’s exciting to send a piece of writing off to a contest. However, once the initial excitement wears off, you may be left waiting for a while. Some writing contests will contact all entrants after the judging period — whether or not they’ve won. Other writing competitions will only contact the winners. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind after you submit:

Many writing competitions don’t have time to respond to each entrant with feedback on their story. However, it never hurts to ask! Feel free to politely reach out requesting feedback — but wait until after the selection period is over.

If you’ve submitted the same work to more than one writing competition or literary magazine, remember to withdraw your submission if it ends up winning elsewhere.

After you send a submission, don’t follow it up with a rewritten or revised version. Instead, ensure that your first version is thoroughly proofread and edited. If not, wait until the next edition of the contest or submit the revised version to other writing contests.

Find the perfect editor for your next book

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The Goi Peace Foundation

International essay contest for young people.

upcoming essay writing competition

We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 International Essay Contest for Young People.

This year the Essay Contest was held under the theme “Youth Creating a Peaceful Future.” From among 20,674 entries (Children’s category: 6,922 / Youth category: 13,752) from 168 countries, the following winners were selected. We take this opportunity to thank all of you who participated in the contest!

Each first prize winner will receive a certificate of commendation from the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan, and a gift. Certificates and gifts for other prizes will be mailed to the winners in December 2023.

Guidelines for the 2024 International Essay Contest for Young People will be announced on this website and through the Goi Peace Foundation’s mailing list and facebook page by mid-February 2024.

Congratulatory Message from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan

Congratulatory message for the 2023 International Essay Contest for Young People

Theme “Youth Creating a Peaceful Future”

What does a peaceful world look like to you? How can young people work together, using creative ideas and approaches to realize a peaceful future? Please share your specific ideas.

List of Winners

(All ages are as of June 15, 2023.)

1st Prize (Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan Award)

Children's category (1 entrant).

  • NO HORRORS Chimamanda Kaitlyn Uzoechi (Age 8, Nigeria)

Youth category (1 entrant)

  • The Power of Dreams Michiho Shimazaki (Age 17, Japan)

Children's category (3 entrants)

  • Seeing Things from the Other Point of View Ayumi Kuroiwa (Age 13, Japan)
  • WE ARE COLOUR PALETTES Anelis Kristel Huarhuachi Quispe (Age 14, Perú)
  • The Legacy of Loving the Next: Young People Transforming the World into a Better Place Marinna Laura Soares Azevedo (Age 14, Brazil)

Youth category (3 entrants)

  • Here is My Peaceful World Feyisola Maria Bolarinwa (Age 17, Nigeria)
  • 700 Hundred Words About Peace Yan Korolev (Age 17, Belarus <Living in Poland>)
  • Embracing Disparities for a Peaceful Tomorrow Haseeb Iqbal (Age 22, Pakistan)

Children's category (5 entrants)

  • I'm only seven Sydor Yaroslav (Age 7, Ukraine)
  • For a Peaceful World Haruka Someya (Age 13, Japan)
  • What Is Justice? Soma Sagai (Age 14, Japan)
  • Entrust in Peace: Simple Acts Tanishka Aglave (Age 14, U.S.A.)
  • Changing Our Awareness for a Peaceful World Hayato Yuge (Age 15, Japan)

Youth category (5 entrants)

  • The Importance of Taking Down Barriers: Why We Mustn’t Cling on to Labels Mizuki Hayakawa (Age 15, Japan)
  • Redefining our Institutions Through Love: The Youth’s Path to Peace Ghena Kubba (Age 16, U.S.A.)
  • birthday cake candles Mira (Age 18, Belarus)
  • Cuius regio, eius religio?- From Blood-Stained Bridges to a Bright Future: Uniting Youth For Better Tomorrow Aiša Muhić (Age 20, Bosnia and Herzegovina)
  • Find Peace in Compassion Folasade Bolarinwa (Age 21, Nigeria)

Honorable Mention

Children's category (25 entrants).

  • Naqiyyah Afrah (Age 6, Brunei)
  • Riyo Nokami (Age 10, Japan <Living in U.S.A.>)
  • Qihang Chen (Age 11, China)
  • Sinzogan Boris Prudent M. U. (Age 11, Benin)
  • Cluoe Esthyrbelle G. Labrador (Age 12, Philippines)
  • Crystal Kim (Age 12, South Korea)
  • Kokoha Sato (Age 12, Japan)
  • Rinka Hato (Age 12, Japan)
  • Taiki Sasaki (Age 12, Japan)
  • Tomoki Kamiya (Age 12, Japan)
  • Hana Gollop (Age 13, Japan & U.K. <Living in China>)
  • Hisa Yamada (Age 13, Japan)
  • Kayleigh Claire Go So (Age 13, Philippines)
  • Noa Murashita (Age 13, Japan)
  • Yuuki Sue (Age 13, Japan)
  • Chloe Kim (Age 14, U.S.A.)
  • Claire Tang (Age 14, U.S.A.)
  • Diana Oshan (Age 14, Kazakhstan)
  • Lim Enn Kii (Age 14, Malaysia & Taiwan of China <Living in Japan>)
  • Jessica Jubrail (Age 14, Jordan)
  • Karin Daito (Age 14, Japan)
  • Mao Kuroda (Age 14, Japan)
  • Prashansa Shrestha (Age 14, Nepal)
  • Tan Le En (Age 14, Malaysia)
  • Thauan Sachet de Figueiredo (Age 14, Brazil)

Youth category (25 entrants)

  • Chit Khone Cho Thar (Age 15, Myanmar)
  • Hyunjin Vicky Lee (Age 15, South Korea)
  • Lujain Swaiss (Age 15, Jordan)
  • Myat Thiri Zaw (Age 15, Myanmar)
  • Honoka Inui (Age 16, Japan)
  • Nil Mızraklı (Age 16, Türkiye)
  • Rin Yanagisawa (Age 16, Japan)
  • Yotsuba Tanaka (Age 16, Japan)
  • Zaki Hafizh Zen (Age 16, Indonesia)
  • Cecilia Trisollini Barrientos (Age 17, Perú)
  • Michael Levie M. Alilio (Age 17, Philippines)
  • Sachiko Aoki (Age 17, Japan)
  • Saki Honda (Age 17, Japan)
  • Shiori Nishida (Age 17, Japan)
  • Tatyana Markevich (Age 17, Belarus)
  • Angelica Wayneth Bernardo (Age 18, Philippines)
  • Lamees Anza Khan (Age 18, Pakistan)
  • Anastasiia Radutna (Age 20, Ukraine)
  • Metsongmalem M Chang (Age 20, India)
  • Lopamudra Ghosh (age 21, India)
  • Noy Ben-Sade (Age 21, Israel)
  • Hudda Amjad (Age 22, Pakistan)
  • Luís Gustavo Gonçalves Barreira (Age 22, Brazil)
  • Rafia Ahmad (Age 23, Pakistan)
  • Sesam Rana Magar (Age 23, Nepal)

Best School Award (3 schools)

  • Koka Gakuen Junior and Senior High School for Girls, Tokyo (Japan)
  • Setagaya Junior High School attached to Tokyo Gakugei University (Japan)
  • Tokyo Metropolitan Oizumi Junior High School (Japan)

School Incentive Award (74 schools)

  • Aichi Prefectural Chigusa High School (Japan)
  • Antique Vocational School- Special Program in Journalism (Philippines)
  • Arsakeio Secondary Schools of Thessaloniki (Greece)
  • Bal Bharati Public School, Delhi (India)
  • Beaconhouse Sri Inai International School, Selangor (Malaysia)
  • Bilingual Kopalinski School, Bielsko-Biala (Poland)
  • Bukhara region Karavulbazar district School N1 (Uzbekistan)
  • Buyukcekmece Doga Koleji, Istanbul (Türkiye)
  • Chicago Futabakai Japanese School-Saturday School, Illinois (U.S.A.)
  • Clark Memorial International High School, Aichi (Japan)
  • Colégio Santa Maria, São Paulo (Brazil)
  • Colégio Vital Brazil, São Paulo (Brazil)
  • De La Salle Lipa, Inc. (Philippines)
  • Destiny International College, Osogbo (Nigeria)
  • Écoles Al Madina Site Polo, Casablanca (Morocco)
  • Escuela Preparatoria No. 8 Universidad de Guadalajara (México)
  • FPT University, Hanoi (Viet Nam)
  • Fuji Sacred Heart School, Shizuoka (Japan)
  • Fukushima Prefectural Aizu Gakuho Junior and Senior High School (Japan)
  • Fukushima Prefectural Asakakaisei Senior High School (Japan)
  • Ghiyasuddin International School, Male’ (Maldives)
  • Gymnázium Šrobárova, Kosice (Slovakia)
  • Hougang Secondary School (Singapore)
  • Ikeda Junior High School attached to Osaka Kyoiku University (Japan)
  • International School of Milan (Italy)
  • Jamaluddin School, Male' (Maldives)
  • Japaniche Schule in Zurich (Hoshuko) (Switzerland)
  • Jonan Gakuen Junior High School, Senior High School, Osaka (Japan)
  • Joso Gakuin Junior & Senior High School, Ibaraki (Japan)
  • Kagoshima Gyokuryu Junior & Senior High School of Kagoshima City (Japan)
  • Keimei Gakuen Elementary School, Tokyo (Japan)
  • Kokugojuku KURU, Tokyo (Japan)
  • Kyoto University of Advanced Science Junior & Senior High School (Japan)
  • Labuan International School, Labuan (Malaysia)
  • Liceul Mathias Hammer in Anina, Caras-Severin (Romania)
  • Matsumoto Shuho Secondary School, Nagano (Japan)
  • Midori Elementary School of Itabashi City, Tokyo (Japan)
  • Miwada Gakuen Girls' Junior & Senior High School, Tokyo (Japan)
  • Motherland Secondary School, Pokhara Lekhnath (Nepal)
  • Nan Hua Primary School (Singapore)
  • Nobeoka Technical High School, Miyazaki (Japan)
  • Omori 6th Junior High School of Ota City, Tokyo (Japan)
  • OOU Lazo Trpovski, Skopje (North Macedonia)
  • Ozel Cagdas Bilim Koleji, Muğla (Türkiye)
  • PECHS Girls School, Karachi (Pakistan)
  • Preparatoria Regional de Colotlán, Jalisco (México)
  • Santo Tomas Elementary School-Annex, Laguna (Philippines)
  • Satriwithaya School, Bangkok (Thailand)
  • School 11, Cherkasy (Ukraine)
  • Sekolah Kebangsaan Minden Height, Pinang (Malaysia)
  • Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Sri Nipah, Kelantan (Malaysia)
  • Senior High School at Sakado, University of Tsukuba, Saitama (Japan)
  • Showa Women's University Junior-Senior High School, Tokyo (Japan)
  • Shinjuku Nishitoyama Junior High School of Shinjuku City, Tokyo (Japan)
  • SJKC Kong Min Cawangan Kedua, Penang (Malaysia)
  • Škola pre mimoriadne nadané deti a Gymnázium, Bratislava (Slovakia)
  • SMJK Chio Min, Kedah (Malaysia)
  • SMK Taman Pelangi Indah, Johor (Malaysia)
  • SMP Islam Al Izhar Pondok Labu, South Jakarta (Indonesia)
  • Southern Taiwan University of Science and Technology (Taiwan of China)
  • St. Agnes' Junior & Senior High School, Kyoto (Japan)
  • Sydney Saturday School of Japanese, New South Wales (Australia)
  • SESI ESCOLA, Mossoró (Brazil)
  • St. Joseph Convent School Quetta (Pakistan)
  • Suma Gakuen Junior High School, Hyogo (Japan)
  • Teacher Su International School, Yangon (Myanmar)
  • TED Mersin College (Türkiye)
  • Toho Girls' Junior and Senior High School, Tokyo (Japan)
  • Tokyo Bay International School (Japan)
  • Tunku Abdul Rahman University of Management and Technology, Kota Kinabalu (Malaysia)
  • Yamanouchi Junior High School of Yamanouchi Town, Nagano (Japan)
  • Yaroslavl College of Industry and Economy, Yaroslavl (Russia)
  • Základná škola Bernolákova 16, Košice (Slovakia)

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Writing Competitions – Weekly Updates

Opportunities for aspiring and experienced writers..

Welcome to the most comprehensive list of writing competitions available online. Our list includes short story , poetry , and flash fiction competitions, as well as some events for essay writers, screenwriting , and even entire novel manuscripts. Each item on our list includes basic information about max word count , entry fees , submission deadlines , and the first place prize .

Please do your own research before deciding to enter any event. In case of questions about a particular event, please reach out to the event organizer .

Use our online form to submit a new event to our list.

We are keen to encourage quality submissions, so suggest writers to check their stories before submitting using Prowritingaid . They have free and paid versions and are the best writing software we know to help improve grammar, readability and check for repetition, ‘sticky’ sentences and suggest alternatives. We also suggest checking out our article about the Best Apps for Creative Writing .

Join our Facebook group for updates Add an event Archive (past events)

Event Location


South Africa

sun 10 dec All Day This event is FREE to enter! Yay! Skobeloff Love and Romance Anthology Category Short Story UK Entry Fee Free Max word count 5000 Top Prize Publication

thu 14 dec All Day The Latin Programme Poetry Prize 2024 Category Poetry International Entry Fee £14 Max word count 40 lines Top Prize £200

sun 17 dec All Day The Masters Review Chapbook Open 2023 Category Chapbook International Entry Fee $25 Max word count 45 pages Top Prize $3000, manuscript publication, and 75 contributor copies

mon 18 dec All Day ReadWrite Strategies Funny Workplace Anthology Contest Category Non-fiction USA Entry Fee Free Max word count 1200 Top Prize $500

sat 23 dec All Day FFF Competition Nineteen Category Flash Fiction International Entry Fee £3.80 Max word count 300 Top Prize £150

sun 31 dec All Day This event is FREE to enter! Yay! The Auroras & Blossoms Magazine Issue 2 Category Multiple categories International Entry Fee Free Max word count 1000 Top Prize Royalties to those who are published and donate

sun 31 dec All Day This event is FREE to enter! Yay! Wiingy Future STEM Leaders Scholarship Category Essay USA Entry Fee Free Max word count 600 Top Prize $1200

sun 31 dec All Day Valorious Awards Category Novel International Entry Fee $35 Max word count No limit Top Prize $500 (US), Valorious Award trophy

sun 31 dec All Day The Letter Review Prize Category Multiple categories International Entry Fee $20 Max word count Depends on category. Check with organizer. Top Prize $333 and publication

sun 31 dec All Day The Moth Poetry Prize 2023 Category Poetry International Entry Fee €15 Max word count No limit Top Prize €6,000

sun 31 dec All Day The 2023 Society of Classical Poets Poetry Competition Category Poetry International Entry Fee $20 Max word count 108 lines Top Prize $2,000

sun 31 dec All Day This event is FREE to enter! Yay! My Writing Journey Competition Category Essay International Entry Fee Free Max word count 600 Top Prize $200

sun 31 dec All Day The Tampa Review Prize for Poetry 2023 Category Poetry International Entry Fee $25 Max word count 100 pages Top Prize $2,000 and book publication

sun 31 dec All Day This event is FREE to enter! Yay! Lilith Magazine Annual Fiction Contest Category Multiple categories International Entry Fee Free Max word count Depends on category. Check with organizer. Top Prize $300 and publication

sun 07 jan All Day The Shepton Mallet Snowdrop Festival Poetry Competition Category Poetry International Entry Fee £4 Max word count 30 lines Top Prize £300 and publication

mon 08 jan All Day This event is FREE to enter! Yay! Quantum Shorts - Flash Fiction Category Flash Fiction International Entry Fee Free Max word count 1000 Top Prize $1500

sun 14 jan All Day The Page is Printed 2024 Category Multiple categories International Entry Fee £5 Max word count one side of A4 paper Top Prize £100

sun 14 jan All Day The 2024 Colorado Prize for Poetry Category Poetry International Entry Fee $28 Max word count 100 pages Top Prize $2,500 honorarium and publication

mon 15 jan All Day Winter Anthology Contest: Compelling First Chapters Category Novel USA Entry Fee $20 Max word count 3,000 Top Prize $1000 and anthology publication. All finalists will receive $50 and anthology publication.

mon 15 jan All Day Georgia Review Prose Prize Category Multiple categories International Entry Fee $30 Max word count 9000 Top Prize $1500

mon 15 jan All Day Rattle Chapbook Prize Category Chapbook International Entry Fee $25 Max word count 30 pages Top Prize $5,000 and 500 author copies of their chapbook

fri 19 jan All Day Not Quite Write Prize for Flash Fiction Category Flash Fiction Australia Entry Fee $25 Max word count 500 Top Prize $1000

mon 22 jan All Day 2024 Calibre Essay Prize Category Essay International Entry Fee $20-30 Max word count 5,000 Top Prize $5,000 and publication

wed 31 jan All Day This event is FREE to enter! Yay! Cheshire Prize for Literature 2023 Category Multiple categories UK Entry Fee Free Max word count Depends on category. Check with organizer. Top Prize Depends on category. Check with organizer.

wed 31 jan All Day Clash of the Query Letters Category Multiple categories International Entry Fee $5 Max word count 500 Top Prize $700

wed 31 jan All Day New Writers Flash Fiction Competition 2024 Category Flash Fiction UK Entry Fee £10 (£8 early bird price until 30th November 2023) Max word count 300 Top Prize £1,000

wed 31 jan All Day Oxford Flash Fiction Prize 2024 Category Flash Fiction UK Entry Fee £7 Max word count 1000 Top Prize £1000

wed 31 jan All Day This event is FREE to enter! Yay! Discourse Literary Journal Monthly Writing Competition - February Category Multiple categories International Entry Fee Free Max word count 5000 Top Prize Publication

wed 31 jan All Day This event is FREE to enter! Yay! Story Unlikely's Annual Short Story Contest Category Multiple categories USA Entry Fee Free Max word count 4500 Top Prize $750

wed 31 jan All Day Magma 2023/24 Poetry Competition Category Poetry International Entry Fee £5 Max word count 10-50 lines Top Prize £1,000

wed 31 jan All Day Kent and Sussex Poetry Society Open Poetry Competition 2024 Category Poetry International Entry Fee £5 Max word count 40 lines Top Prize £1,000

thu 01 feb All Day ETHOS LITERACY 5th Annual Short Short Story Contest Category Short Fiction International Entry Fee $15 Max word count 100 Top Prize $300 and publication

fri 23 feb All Day The Elmbridge Literary Competition 2023-24 Category Multiple categories UK Entry Fee £5 Max word count 1500 Top Prize £250

thu 29 feb All Day Edinburgh Short Story Award Category Short Fiction International Entry Fee $10 Max word count 2000 Top Prize £3,000

thu 29 feb All Day This event is FREE to enter! Yay! THE CANTERBURY TALES WRITING COMPETITION Category Poetry International Entry Fee Free Max word count 500 Top Prize £300

fri 01 mar 1:00 am fri 1:00 am Best Short Stories on the Human Impact of Climate Change Category Short Story USA Entry Fee $10 Max word count 3,000 Top Prize $1,000

sun 31 mar All Day Minds Shine Bright Seasons Writing Competition Category Multiple categories International Entry Fee $5 Max word count Depends on category (check organizer's website) Top Prize $500 and publication

mon 01 apr All Day The Rialto Nature and Place Poetry Competition 2024 Category Poetry International Entry Fee £7 Max word count 40 lines Top Prize £1000

fri 31 may All Day The Bridport Prize 2024 Category Multiple categories International Entry Fee £11-£24 Max word count Depends on category (check organizer's website) Top Prize £5,000

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upcoming essay writing competition


2023 global essay competition.

T he John Locke Institute encourages young people to cultivate the characteristics that turn good students into great writers: independent thought, depth of knowledge, clear reasoning, critical analysis and persuasive style. Our Essay Competition invites students to explore a wide range of challenging and interesting questions beyond the confines of the school curriculum.

Entering an essay in our competition can build knowledge, and refine skills of argumentation. It also gives students the chance to have their work assessed by experts. All of our essay prizes are judged by a panel of senior academics drawn from leading universities including Oxford and Princeton. The judges will choose their favourite essay from each of seven subject categories, and a junior category for under 15s, and then select an overall 'best essay' across the seven subjects: Philosophy, Politics, Economics, History, Psychology, Theology and Law.

Q1. A team of scientists wants to discover how many genders there are. How should they proceed?

Q2. In what sense are you the same person today that you were when you were ten?

Q3. Is tax theft? 


Q1. Do the results of elections express the will of the people?

Q2. If China becomes the leading superpower, what would that mean for the people who live there? What would it mean for everyone else?

Q3. What might account for the different levels of political corruption in your own country and your country's nearest neighbour?

Q1. A government funds its own expenditure by taxing its population. Suppose, instead, it relied solely on money newly created by the central bank? What would be the advantages and/or disadvantages?   

Q2. In his thought experiment, the Iowa Car Crop, David Friedman tries to show that growing wheat is, in an important sense, just another 'technology' we can use for manufacturing cars, and in some circumstances a much more efficient one.

If international trade is thus a way of using less valuable inputs to produce more valuable outputs, why would governments impose trade barriers such as tariffs and quotas, thereby forcing producers to be more wasteful and less efficient?

Q3. What would happen if we banned billionaires?


Q1. How much richer or poorer are the British today than they would have been without the effects of British colonialism? 

Q2. Which has a bigger effect on history: the plans of the powerful or their mistakes?

Q3. Which characteristics distinguish successful movements for social change from unsuccessful ones?

Q1. Can happiness be measured?

Q2. In surveys conducted in the United States, significantly more than half the respondents reported that they believed themselves to be more attractive than the median person in their country. How might we account for this?

Q3. Are beliefs voluntary?


Q1. What distinguishes a small religion from a large cult?

Q2. If you cannot persuade your intelligent, sympathetic friends to embrace your religious belief system, do you have enough reason to believe what you believe? 

Q3. What was God doing before He created the cosmos?

Q1. Would justice be better served in the United States if more Supreme Court judges were women? 

Q2. Suppose that you were contemplating, in violation of the rules of this competition, submitting an essay written for you by artificial intelligence. What would be the difference between such an act and ordinary attempted theft?

Q3. Are there too many laws?


JUNIOR prize

Q1. Is safety more important than fun?

Q2.  If you had $10 billion to spend on making the world better, how would you spend it?

Q3. What, if anything, do your parents owe you?

Q4. What is something important, about which nearly everybody is wrong?

Q5. Why is John Locke sometimes called the father of liberalism?


Our entry requirements and submission system have changed substantially.

Please read the following carefully.

Entry to the John Locke Institute Essay Competition 2023 is open to students from any country.


Only candidates who registered before the registration deadline of 31 May 2023 may enter this year's competition.

All entries must be submitted by 11.59 pm BST on  the submission deadline: Friday, 30 June 2023 .  Candidates must be eighteen years old, or younger, on that date. (Candidates for the Junior Prize must be fourteen years old, or younger, on that date.)

Entry is free.

Each essay must address only one of the questions in your chosen subject category, and must not exceed 2000 words (not counting diagrams, tables of data, endnotes, bibliography or authorship declaration). 

The filename of your pdf must be in this format: FirstName-LastName-Category-QuestionNumber.pdf; so, for instance, Alexander Popham would submit his answer to question 2 in the Psychology category with the following file name:


Essays with filenames which are not in this format will be rejected.

Candidates should NOT add footnotes. They may, however, add endnotes and/or a Bibliography that is clearly titled as such.

Each candidate will be required to provide the email address of an academic referee who is familiar with the candidate's written academic work. This should be a school teacher, if possible, or another responsible adult who is not a relation of the candidate. The John Locke Institute will email this referee to verify that the submitted essay is indeed the original work of the candidate.

Submissions may be made as soon as registration opens in April. We recommend that you submit your essay well in advance of th e deadline to avoid any last-minute complications and to ensure that you can submit your essay for free.

Acceptance of your essay depends on your granting us permission to use your data for the purposes of receiving and processing your entry as well as communicating with you about the Awards Ceremony Dinner, the academic conference for essay competition finalists, and other events and programmes of the John Locke Institute and its associated entities.  

Late entries

If for any reason you miss the 30 June deadline you will have an opportunity to make a late entry, under two conditions:

a) A late entry fee of 20.00 USD must be paid by credit card within twenty-four hours of the original deadline; and

b) Your essay must be submitted  before 11.59 pm BST on 10 July 2023.

To pay for late entry, a registrant need only log into his or her account, select the relevant option and provide the requested payment information.

Our grading system is proprietary. Essayists may be asked to discuss their entry with a member of the John Locke Institute’s faculty. We use various means to identify plagiarism, contract cheating, the use of AI and other forms of fraud . Our determinations in all such matters are final.

Essays will be judged on knowledge and understanding of the relevant material, the competent use of evidence, quality of argumentation, originality, structure, writing style and persuasive force. The very best essays are likely to be those which would be capable of changing somebody's mind. Essays which ignore or fail to address the strongest objections and counter-arguments are unlikely to be successful .

Candidates are advised to answer the question as precisely and directly as possible.

The writers of the best essays will receive a commendation and be shortlisted for a prize. Writers of shortlisted essays will be notified by 11.59 pm BST on 31 July . They will also be invited to Oxford for an invitation-only academic conference and awards dinner in September, where the prize-winners will be announced. Unlike the competition itself, the academic conference and awards dinner are not free. Please be aware that n obody is required to attend either the academic conference or the prize ceremony. You can win a prize without travelling to Oxford.

All short-listed candidates, including prize-winners, will be able to download eCertificates that specify their achievement. If you win First, Second or Third Prize, and you travel to Oxford for the ceremony, you will receive a signed certificate. 

There is a prize for the best essay in each category. The prize for each winner of a subject category, and the winner of the Junior category, is a scholarship worth US$2000 towards the cost of attending any John Locke Institute programme, and the essays will be published on the Institute's website. Prize-giving ceremonies will take place in Oxford, at which winners and runners-up will be able to meet some of the judges and other faculty members of the John Locke Institute. Family, friends, and teachers are also welcome, subject to capacity constraints.

The candidate who submits the best essay overall will be awarded an honorary John Locke Institute Junior Fellowship, which comes with a US$10,000 scholarship to attend one or more of our summer schools and/or gap year courses.

The judges' decisions are final, and no correspondence will be entered into.

R egistration opens: 1 April, 2023.

Registration deadline: 31 May, 2023. ( Registration is required by this date for subsequent submission.)

Submission deadline: 30 June, 2023.

Late entry deadline: 10 July, 2023. (Late entries are subject to a 20.00 USD charge, payable by 1 July.)

Notification of short-listed essayists: 31 July, 2023.

Academic conference & awards dinners: 16 September, 2023.

Any queries regarding the essay competition should be sent to [email protected] . Please be aware that, due to the large volume of correspondence we receive, we cannot guarantee to answer every query. In particular, questions whose answers can be found on our website will be ignored.

If you would like to receive, from time to time, content from our examiners about what makes for a winning essay or updates about the 2023 essay competition, please provide your email here to be added to our contact list. .

Thanks for subscribing!


"I hope you will find this year's questions thought-provoking, and that you will be one of the thousands of contestants from over a hundred different countries to submit an essay to what has become the world's largest competition of its kind. Not only will the experience of researching and writing the essay be a valuable learning experience, but the shortlisted candidates will be invited to Oxford to join with other talented young people who have thought carefully about the same question, for a unique series of precepts under the experienced leadership of an academic expert."

Martin Cox, Director of the John Locke Institute

Q. I missed the registration deadline. May I still register or submit an essay?

A. No. Only candidates who registered before 31 May will be able to submit an essay this year. 

Q. Are footnote s, endnotes, a bibliography or references counted towards the word limit?

A. No. Only the body of the essay is counted. However, you may not use footnotes: please use endnotes instead. 

Q. Are in-text citations counted towards the word limit? ​

A. If you are using an in-text based referencing format, such as APA, your in-text citations are included in the word limit.

Q. Should citations be footnotes or in-text citations? ​

A. We do not allow footnotes. Please use in-text citations or endnotes

Q. Is it necessary to include foo tnotes or endnotes in an essay? ​

A. You  may not  include footnotes, but you may include endnotes. You should give your sources of any factual claims you make, and you should ackn owledge any other authors on whom you rely.​

Q. I submitted my essay before the rule about footnotes was changed. I've used footnotes so my essay does not comply with the prohibition of their use. What should I do?

A. Nothing. You will not be penalized in any way. As long as you followed the rules as they were when you submitted your essay, your essay has been accepted and is being considered like any other.  

Q. I am interested in a question that seems ambiguous. How should I interpret it?

A. You may interpret a question as you deem appropriate, clarifying your interpretation if necessary. Having done so, you must answer the question as directly as possible.

Q. How strict are  the age eligibility criteria?

A. Only students whose nineteenth birthday falls after 30 June 2023 will be eligible for a prize or a commendation. In the case of the Junior category, only students whose fifteenth birthday falls after 30 June 2023 will be eligible for a prize or a commendation. 

Q. May I submit more than one essay?

A. Yes, you may submit as many essays as you please in any or all categories.

Q. If I am eligible to compete in the Junior category, may I also (or instead) compete in another category?

A. Yes, you may.

Q. May I team up with someone else to write an essay?  

A. No. Each submitted essay must be entirely the work of a single individual.

Q. May I use AI, such as ChatGPT or the like, in writing my essay?

A. All essays will be checked for the use of AI. If we find that any content is generated by AI, your essay will be disqualified. We will also ask you, upon submission of your essay, whether you used AI for  any  purpose related to the writing of your essay, and if so, you will be required to provide details. In that case, if, in our judgement, you have not provided full and accurate details of your use of AI, your essay will be disqualified. 

Since any use of AI (that does not result in disqualification) can only negatively affect our assessment of your work relative to that of work that is done without using AI, your safest course of action is simply not to use it at all. If, however, you choose to use it for any purpose, we reserve the right to make relevant judgements on a case-by-case basis and we will not enter into any correspondence. 

Q. May I have someone else edit, or otherwise help me with, my essay?

A. You may of course discuss your essay with others, and it is perfectly acceptable for them to offer general advice and point out errors or weaknesses in your writing or content, leaving you to address them.

However, no part of your essay may be written by anyone else. This means that you must edit your own work and that while a proofreader may point out errors, you as the essayist must be the one to correct them. 

Q. Do I have to attend the awards ceremony to win a prize? ​

A. Nobody is required to attend the prize ceremony. You can win a prize without travelling to Oxford. But if we invite you to Oxford it is because your essay was good enough - in the opinion of the First Round judges - to be at least a contender for First, Second or Third Prize. Normally the Second Round judges will agree that the short-listed essays are worth at least a commendation.

Q. Is there an entry fee?

A. No. There is no charge to enter our global essay competition unless you submit your essay after the normal deadline, in which case there is a fee of 20.00 USD .

Q. Can I receive a certificate for my participation in your essay competition if I wasn't shortlisted? 

A. No. Certificates are awarded only for shortlisted essays. Short-listed contestants who attend the award ceremony in Oxford will receive a paper certificate. If you cannot travel to Oxford, you will be able to download your eCertificate.

Q. Can I receive feedba ck on my essay? 

A. We would love to be able to give individual feedback on essays but, unfortunately, we receive too many entries to be able to comment on particular essays.

Q. The deadline for publishing the names of short-listed essayists has passed but I did not receive an email to tell me whether I was short-listed.

A. Log into your account and check "Shortlist Status" for (each of) your essay(s).


Q. The system will not accept my essay. I have checked the filename and it has the correct format. What should I do?  

A. You have almost certainly added a space before or after one of your names in your profile. Edit it accordingly and try to submit again.

Q. The profile page shows my birth date to be wrong by a day, even after I edit it. What should I do?

A. Ignore it. The date that you typed has been correctly input to our database. ​ ​

Q. How can I be sure that my registration for the essay competition was successful? Will I receive a confirmation email?

A. You will not receive a confirmation email. Rather, you can at any time log in to the account that you created and see that your registration details are present and correct.


If you are unable to submit your essay to the John Locke Institute’s global essay competition, your problem is almost certainly one of the following.

If so, please proceed as indicated.

1) PROBLEM: I receive the ‘registrations are now closed’ message when I enter my email and verification code. SOLUTION. You did not register for the essay competition and create your account. If you think you did, you probably only provided us with your email to receive updates from us about the competition or otherwise. You may not enter the competition this year.

2) PROBLEM I do not receive a login code after I enter my email to enter my account. SOLUTION. Enter your email address again, checking that you do so correctly. If this fails, restart your browser using an incognito window; clear your cache, and try again. Wait for a few minutes for the code. If this still fails, restart your machine and try one more time. If this still fails, send an email to [email protected] with “No verification code – [your name]” in the subject line.


3) PROBLEM: The filename of my essay is in the correct format but it is rejected. SOLUTION: Use “Edit Profile” to check that you did not add a space before or after either of your names. If you did, delete it. Whether you did or did not, try again to submit your essay. If submission fails again, email [email protected] with “Filename format – [your name]” in the subject line.

4) PROBLEM: When trying to view my submitted essay, a .txt file is downloaded – not the .pdf file that I submitted. SOLUTION: Delete the essay. Logout of your account; log back in, and resubmit. If resubmission fails, email [email protected] with “File extension problem – [your name]” in the subject line.

5) PROBLEM: When I try to submit, the submission form just reloads without giving me an error message. SOLUTION. Log out of your account. Open a new browser; clear the cache; log back in, and resubmit. If resubmission fails, email [email protected] with “Submission form problem – [your name]” in the subject line.

6) PROBLEM: I receive an “Unexpected Error” when trying to submit. SOLUTION. Logout of your account; log back in, and resubmit. If this resubmission fails, email [email protected] with “Unexpected error – [your name]” in thesubject line. Your email must tell us e xactly where in the submission process you received this error.

7) PROBLEM: I have a problem with submitting and it is not addressed above on this list. SOLUTION: Restart your machine. Clear your browser’s cache. Try to submit again. If this fails, email [email protected] with “Unlisted problem – [your name]” in the subject line. Your email must tell us exactly the nature of your problem with relevant screen caps.


Do not email us before you have tried the specified solutions to your problem.

Do not email us more than once about a single problem. We will respond to your email within 72 hours. Only if you have not heard from us in that time may you contact us again to ask for an update.

If you email us regarding a problem, you must include relevant screen-shots and information on both your operating system and your browser. You must also declare that you have tried the solutions presented above and had a good connection to the internet when you did so.

If you have tried the relevant solution to your problem outlined above, have emailed us, and are still unable to submit before the 30 June deadline on account of any fault of the John Locke Institute or our systems, please do not worry: we will have a way to accept your essay in that case. However, if there is no fault on our side, we will not accept your essay if it is not submitted on time – whatever your reason: we will not make exceptions for IT issues for which we are not responsible.

We reserve the right to disqualify the entries of essayists who do not follow all provided instructions, including those concerning technical matters.

Scholarship Positions

Scholarship Positions 2023 2024

Home » Essay Competitions

Category: Essay Competitions

2023-2024 Essay Competitions | Essay Competitions for International Applicants | Essay Prizes | Essay Contests | Writing Competitions | International Essay Contests

Asido Foundation’s Jemila Abubakar Memorial Essay (JAME) Competition in Nigeria

Asido Foundation’s Jemila Abubakar Memorial Essay (JAME) Competition in Nigeria.

In memory of the Late Miss Jemila Abubakar, the Asido Foundation (AF) has organized an annual Jemila Abubakar Memorial Essay (JAME) competition. The AF aim to promote a JAME competition for all undergraduates of any tertiary institution for the academic year 2023-2024. The Asido Foundation’s JAME competition aims to counter unawareness and showcase dedication to …

Florin Roebig Scholarship Essay Contest in USA

upcoming essay writing competition

Applications are being accepted from talented candidates for the Scholarship Essay Contest. The programme is offered by the Law firm of Florin Roebig. The programme is open to students who are enrolled full-time at a secondary or post-secondary academic institution in the U.S. In 2014, Law firm Florin|Roebig opened a staffed office in Bloomington, Minnesota …

Edugrant Essay Competition in Nigeria, 2020

upcoming essay writing competition

If you want to show your writing talent, creative skills and have a dream of upgrade your skills, then here is a wonderful opportunity to become a part of the Edugrant Essay Competition. The programme is available to students from Nigeria. The scholarship encourages senior secondary school students who want to take part in the …

Legit Big Naija Independence Contest in Nigeria, 2020

upcoming essay writing competition

Do you want to upgrade your skills and make your essay dream come out on one of the best platforms? If so, here is an excellent chance to become a part of the Legit Big Naija Independence Contest in Nigeria for the session 2020/2021. The essay contest is aimed at spotting young talented students passionate …

Langer & Langer’s Annual Academic Scholarship in USA, 2020

upcoming essay writing competition

Encourage your creativity and writing talent through essay writing by joining Langer & Langer’s Annual Academic Scholarship. The grant is awarded to US students for the academic year 2020-2021. The scholarship program supports undergraduate or graduate students who will submit the strongest essay focusing on the given topic. With more than 100 years of combined …

Law Offices of George T. Bochanis Annual Academic Scholarship, 2020

upcoming essay writing competition

Applicants are invited to become a part of the Annual Academic Scholarship offered by the Law Offices of George T. Bochanis for the academic year 2020-2021. The funding program is exclusively open to US students. The grant provides an award of $1,000 to the highly talented students who submit the strongest essay focusing on the …

Mainor Wirth Academic Essay Writing Scholarship in USA, 2020

upcoming essay writing competition

Whether you want to show your creative skills or you are searching for an essay contest, here is an excellent opportunity to apply for the Mainor Wirth Academic Essay Writing Scholarship. The grant is open for the academic year 2020-2021. The scholarship inspires undergraduate or graduate students who submit the strongest essay focusing on the …

Patriot Law Firm’s Annual Academic Scholarship in USA, 2020

upcoming essay writing competition

The Patriot Law Firm is encouraging outstanding students to become a part of the Annual Academic Scholarship for the academic year 2020-2021. The funding program is available to US students. The grant will provide financial support to undergraduate or graduate students who submit the strongest essay focusing on the given topic. Located in Las Vegas, …

Taylor Randolph’s Annual Academic Scholarship in USA, 2020

upcoming essay writing competition

Show your writing skills by taking part in essay scholarship! The Randolph Law Firm is intended to encourage students to become a part of the Annual Academic Scholarship. The award is open for the academic year 2020-2021. The award program is open to assists the US students who will enroll in an accredited community college …

Essay Writing Scholarship Program for Domestic and International Students in the USA

Essay Writing Scholarship Program for Domestic and International Students in the USA

Studying in a world-renowned country is a massive investment in the future of students, but earning such an education can be costly. Therefore, 5Estimates.com is providing an outstanding scholarship to support the study for the students. The program seeks to attract those students who are currently studying at or have been accepted to an accredited …

 Keller Law Offices Annual Scholarship for Military Veterans in USA, 2020

upcoming essay writing competition

Applicants are invited to become a part of the Keller Law Offices Annual Scholarship for the academic year 2020-2021. The funding program is available for military veterans of the United States Armed Forces and their immediate family members. The program will provide a $1,000 scholarship for veterans to help them receive the training they need …

Kid School Undergraduate Scholarship for North American and European Students

Kid School Undergraduate Scholarship for North American and European Students

Showcase your writing skills by entering Kid School Scholarship Program. Accept a challenge and create a strong paper to receive a fine reward. The essay contest is open for high school, undergraduate and graduate students from North America and Europe. The objective of the competition is to motivate students to develop their writing abilities and …

Kid at School KAS Scholarships in USA, 2020

upcoming essay writing competition

The KAS Education Company is inviting students to become a part of Kid at School KAS Scholarships for motivating them to improve their writing skills for the academic year 2020-2021. The scholarship essay contest will give a chance for graduate and undergraduate high school students to win cash prizes starting from $500. The KAS Education …

Ivy Panda Annual Essay Writing Contest Scholarships for International Students, 2023

upcoming essay writing competition

Students from all around the world have a wonderful chance to win a $1,500 prize by taking part in Ivy Panda Annual Essay Writing Contest Scholarships for the academic year 2023-2024. The scholarship contest will be awarded to international high school, college, or university students who demonstrate mastery of essay writing. Ivy Panda is a …

Adelman Travel Agency Scholarship

Adelman Travel Agency Scholarship

Adelman Travel Group is awarding a $500 award through its Travel Agency Scholarship program. The Adelman scholarship is essay-based and open to all US students who are enrolled full-time in any fields of study in an accredited school of the United States. Adelman is a travel agency that has been around for over 30 years, …

The Write Life


upcoming essay writing competition


upcoming essay writing competition


40 Free Writing Contests: Competitions With Cash Prizes

by Kelly Gurnett | Aug 29, 2023

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 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 .

Table of Contents

Fiction and nonfiction writing contests this year.

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

Website: Writers of the Future

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

Website: Inkitt

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

Website: University of Pittsburgh Press

4 . 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 this year are open through September 8 at 5pm Eastern Time

Website: New York Public Library

5 . 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 was up in 2021, then back to nonfiction in 2022, and so on. 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 contest next opens for submissions in February 2024

Website: Graywolf Press

6 . 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 May 2024

Website: The Iowa Review

7 . 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 entry window closes on December 31

Website: The Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence

8. 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: S ubmissions will be accepted from July 1 to September 30

Website: Pen/Faulkner

9 . 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: Submissions close November 1

Website: PEN America

10. 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 last year are eligible for the award this year).

Deadline: Annual submission window is September 1 through December 31

Website: Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards

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11. 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 submission window in 2023 is October 15

Website: The Marfield Prize

1 2 . 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 31

Website: American Library Association

13. 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

Website: Friends of American Writers Chicago

14. 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 is usually the deadline

Website: Hektoen International

15. Biopage Storytelling Writing Contest

There’s no denying it: social media is a huge part of our modern-day 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: The current contest ends January 31, 2024

Website: Biopage

16. 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: December 17 each yea r 

Website: Edgar Awards

17. 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 29 each year

Website: ServiceScape

18 . 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 ). The book must be written by a U.S. author and have been published in the United States during the previous three calendar years.

Deadline: Contact the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center for this year’s deadline .

Website: Harriet Beecher Stowe Center

19 . 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

Website: Lunch Ticket

20 . The 2023 Brandon Langhjelm Memorial 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, 2022’s prompt was, “ Canadian governments are making Digital ID technologies a precondition of access to essential services and goods. What can Canadians do to protect their Charter rights and freedoms against the dangers of these technologies? ”

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

Deadline: November 5

Website: Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms

21. 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

Website: Write the World

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

Website: Prose.

23. 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 went to a work of nonfiction of at least 25,000 words; 2022 will be fiction.

Deadline: Submission window is usually between December and March

Website: Restless Books

24. 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 : April each year

Website: American Foreign Service Association

25. 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. 

Website: Society of Spanish Researchers in the United Kingdom

26. 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 submission window runs from July 1 through December 30

Website: Virginia Commonwealth University

27. 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 : Submission window usually opens at the beginning of each year

Website: Magabala Books

28 . 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 next Southampton Writers Conference .

Deadline : Submission window is usually between March 1- July 14

Website: Stony Brook University | Lichtenstein Center

29. 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 30 each year

Website: Writers Alliance of Gainesville

30. Insecure Writer’s Support Group Annual Anthology Contest

As long as you stick to the 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 each year

Website: Insecure Writer’s Support Group

31. 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)

Website: Ultimate Meal Plans

32. 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: The contest is on hiatus for 2023, check the website for a follow-up announcement in 2024. 

Website: Lee & Low Books

33. 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 was not offered the last three years due to the pandemic and limited campus access

Website: St. Francis College

Poetry contests this year

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 and residents 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: Usually late July, each year

Website: Free Spirit Publishing  

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

Website: Academy of American Poets

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

Website: African Poetry Book Fund

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: Submission window is July 1 to June 30 each year

Website: Claremont Graduate University

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 : July 1 to September 1 each year

Website: Poets

39. Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

Now in its 23rd 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 in English.

Deadline : April 1, each year (and no, this isn’t an April Fools joke)

Website: Winning Writers

40. The Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize

This writing competition is looking for the best piece of unpublished, themed writing. For example, one year, 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 open at the beginning of each year. Follow the Alpine Fellowship on Instagram for updates

Website: The Alpine Fellowship

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. 

Photo via Viktoriia Hnatiuk / Shutterstock


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