Writing Contests (North America)

Below is a list of non-fiction, essay, memoir and life writing contests based in USA and Canada and mostly open to American and/or Canadian writers — although some may be open to UK / European writers, or those based elsewhere.

For a list of UK / Europe based non-fiction writing competitions, click here.

We aim to avoid listing competitions whose terms and conditions request copyright in entries submitted — or make other unreasonable demands. Terms and conditions are usually checked, but some copyright-grabbers may occasionally slip through. Please read them carefully before participating. 


August 29th, 2019
Peaceful Dumpling Environmental Writing Prize
Aims “to foster and celebrate writing that explores the most pressing issues of our times: climate change, environment, conservation, and animal rights”. Pieces up to 6,000 words. $500 prize plus publication.



September 1st, 2019
Solas Awards
For travel writing.

September 30th, 2019
Literal Latte Essay Awards
$1,000 / $300 / $200. Unpublished essays, 10,000 words max.



October 27th, 2019 (plus 3-day grace period)
Ruminate Magazine’s VanderMey Non Fiction Prize
$1,500. No restrictions on subject matter.

October 31st, 2019
WOW! Women on Writing Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest
Open topic. 200–1,000 words.

Hidden River Arts’ Tamaqua Award
For a collection of essays.

Tuscon Festival of Books Literary Awards Competition
$1,000 / $500 / $250.



November 30th, 2019
SMK Contests
Various categories: Humor, intercultural essay, religious essay, memoir vignette, creative non-fiction. (Fiction categories too.)



December 20th, 2019
Lazuli Literary Group Writing Contest
For ‘thoughtful, intelligent, beautiful’ writing. $100.



February 1st, 2020
The TSR Nonfiction Prize
Opens January 1st, 2020. $1,000 / $500. “Make us laugh. Make us cry. Most of all, tell us a story.” 4,500 words max.



April 30th, 2020
Tom Howard / John H Reid Fiction & Essay Prize
6,000 words max. $2,000.



July 15th, 2020
PRISM International’s 2020 Creative Non-Fiction Contest
Can$1,500 grand prize, Can$600 runner-up, Can$400 2nd runner-up.



August 30th, 2020
Thomas Paine Award
For “an original book-length manuscript of political or social activist writing”. Open internationally.



NB: Most of the following are included on the basis of having run in the previous year, but may be provisional or as yet unconfirmed for the upcoming month specified.

January 2020
Living Springs’ Baby Boomers Plus
Greywolf Press Non-Fiction Prize

April 2020
Hektoen Grand Prix Essay Competition
The Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest (Canada)

May 2020
Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society’s William Faulkner — William Wisdom Creative Writing Contest

July 2020
New Millennium Writings

Septmeber 2020
Hektoen Summer Essay Contest

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