Writing Contests (North America)

Below is a list of nonfiction, essay, memoir and life writing contests from USA and Canada and mostly open to American and/or Canadian writers — although some are open to writers elsewhere.

For a list of contests from UK and Europe, some of which are open to writers outside Europe, 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 carefully before participating. 

Note that some entry fees may seem expensive, but often offer additional benefits, such as an annual magazine subscription.



January 21st
National Magazine Awards (Canada)
Various categories. High entry fees, but freelancer support fund in place offers better deals. Entry by January 14th (‘early bird’) is slightly cheaper. 

January 24th
For “one piece of non-fiction, maximum 25 (double-spaced) pages per entry”. $15 fee. $500 cash prize. 

January 31st
The BookLife Prize
For independent authors. Nonfiction books — self-published or unpublished. 

Iowa Review Awards
Up to 25 pages of creative nonfiction (other categories too). $1,500 / $750. $20 entry. 



February 2nd
Please See Me Mental Health Awareness Writing Contest
$10 entry.

February 4th
Ottawa Tourism Travel Writing Award
“$500 CAD prize for outstanding travel writing featuring Canada’s Capital Region. Eligible entries include items in English or in French that have appeared in magazines, newspapers, or online media in 2021 that highlight Ottawa as a travel destination”

February 7th
Accenti Magazine Writing Contest
$30 entry. 2,000 words max. Non-fiction / creative non-fiction (fiction too). C$1,000 top prize; 3 x C$100 runners-up. 

February 18th
The Writers’ Union of Canada Short Prose Competition
C$2,500 top prize. Original, unpublished nonfiction (or fiction) up to 2,500 words. C$29 entry. Open to Canadian citizens / residents only.

February 21st
Creative Nonfiction Collective Writing Contest
Canada-wide creative nonfiction prize. 3,000 words maximum. Top prize C$750. “Literary journalism, memoir, and the personal or lyric essay—all are welcome” C$20 (non-member) / C$15

February 23rd
SPJ’s New America Award
For public services journalism “that explores and exposes issues of importance to immigrant or ethnic communities in the United States”.

February 28th
AWP Prize for Creative Nonfiction
Open to all writers writing in English for a book-length work. Prizes in other categories too. 

CBC Nonfiction Prize
Up to 2,000 words. Open to Canadian citizens / residents. C$6,000 plus 4 x C$1,000. C$25 entry. 



March 1st
The Writer 2022 Essay Contest
“Your best essay in 2,000 words or less”. $1,000 top prize. 

March 28th
The Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest
C$1,000 top prize. C$40 entry fee. Open to Canadian citizens. No word limit, but 2,000–5,000 words suggested. 



April 1st
Zone 3 Press Creative Nonfiction Book Award
$25 reading fee. Prize: $1,000 plus publication. (Opens January 1st.)

Terry Tempest Williams Creative Nonfiction Prize
500–8,500 words. $1,000 top prize. 

April 30th
The Preservation Foundation Nonfiction Animal Stories Contest
For true stories (but not about pets). $200 / $100. 

Tom Howard / John H Reid Fiction & Essay Prize
First prize $3,000, plus honourable mentions $200. $20 entry. Entry open to most international nations (with very few exceptions). “Any short work of nonfiction” up to 6,000 words. 



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.

February 2022
The TSR Nonfiction Prize
World Bank Blog Writing Contest
Askew’s Words on the Lake Writing Award 

March 2022
The Hunger Mountain Creative Nonfiction Prize
Griffith Review’s The Long and The Short of It

April 2022
Red Hen Press Non-Fiction Award
Zone 3 Press Creative Nonfiction Book Award
Gulf Coast Prize
Chi Media Company / The Milpitas Beat — 21st Century American Writing Contest
The Preservation Foundation Award
Globe Soup Travel Writing Competition

May 2022
The Iowa Review Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award for Veterans
2022 Curt Johnson Prose Awards
Ploughshares Emerging Writers Contest
Subterrain’s Lush Triumphant Literary Awards
MTP 2021 Short Story Competition
Faulkner Society Wisdom Competition

June 2022
Room Creative Nonfiction Contest
The Fiddlehead’s Annual Creative Nonfiction Contest
Living Springs Publishers’ Baby Boomers Plus Writing Contest
Read at the Fringe Literary Contest
A&U Magazine Christopher Hewitt Award
North Street Book Prize
The Preservation Foundation General Nonfiction Contest
New Millennium Writing Awards
Nowhere Magazine Spring Travel Writing Prize

July 2022
PRISM International Creative Non-Fiction Contest
Lazuli Literary Group Writing Contest
WOW! Women on Writing Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest
Narrative Magazine Spring 2021 Story Contest

August 2022
Constance Rooke Creative Non-Fiction Prize / Malahat Review
Tulip Tree Publishing’s Stories That Need to Be Told Contest
The Preservation Foundation Biographical Nonfiction Contest
Blue Mesa Review Summer Competition

September 2022
Canadian Stories
AILCAT Essay Prize 
Writers Digest Personal Essay Awards
Puerto del Sol Prose Contest
Terrain.org 14th Annual Contest
Peninsula Pulse’s Hal Prize
SF Writers Conference Writing Contest
The Travelers’ Tales Solas Awards for Best Travel Writing
The Lascaux Prize in Creative Nonfiction
Boulevard Emerging Writers Nonfiction Contest
Dzanc Books Nonfiction Prize

October 2022
Jeffrey E Smith Editors’ Prize
Event Magazine’s Non Fiction Contest
Ruminate Magazine’s VanderMey Nonfiction Prize
Lazuli Literary Group Writing Contest
Red Hen Press Quill Prose Award
The Preservation Foundation Travel Nonfiction Contest
Tuscan Festival of Books Literary Awards Competition
WOW! Women on Writing Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest
Indiana Review Creative Nonfiction Prize
Pangyrus Nonfiction Essay Contest

November 2022
Cutthroat Writing Awards 
The Malahat Review Open Season Awards
Carve Magazine’s Prose & Poetry Contest
Prairie Fire Creative Nonfiction Contest
ServiceScape Short Story Award
Soul Making Keats Literary Competition
Tadpole Press 100 Word Writing Contest
51st New Millennium Writing Awards

December 2022
Briarpatch’s Writing in the Margins Awards
Nowhere Magazine Fall Travel Writing Prize

January 2023
Mississippi Review Prize
SouthEast Review Writing Contests
Erma Bombeck Writing Competition
H.R.Percy Short Creative Non Fiction Prize
JFK Library Profile in Courage Essay Contest
North Carolina Writers’ Network’s Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Contest
Douglas B Rogers Essay Competition

February 2023

March 2023
Restless Books Immigrant Writing Prize in Nonfiction

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