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. 



June 15th
Living Springs Publishers’ Baby Boomers Plus Writing Contest
800–4,000 words. “Stories Through the Ages”. Open to those born 1966 or earlier. $25 entry fee ($20 for multiple entries). Publication in a book to at least 15 entries. $500 / 200 / 100 for top three. 

Read at the Fringe Literary Contest
Nonfiction 2,000 words max. C$150 prize. C$20 entry fee. 

A&U Magazine Christopher Hewitt Award
Creative nonfiction (and other categories) on theme of HIV / AIDS. $75 prize. No entry fee. 

June 30th
North Street Book Prize
For a self-published book. Creative nonfiction / memoir category, among others. Various cash prizes. 

The Preservation Foundation General Nonfiction Contest
For true stories. $200 / $100. Opens April 30th. 

New Millennium Writing Awards
Includes a nonfiction category, under 7,500 words. $1,000 prize. $20 entry. 

Nowhere Magazine Spring Travel Writing Prize
Essay or nonfiction (poetry or fiction too), of 800–5,000 words. $1,000 top prize. 



July 22nd
Lazuli Literary Group Writing Contest
‘Thoughtful, intelligent and beautiful’ writing. Genre open. $15 submission fee. $200 for each winner (number unspecified). 

July 31st
WOW! Women on Writing Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest
200–1,000 words. Open topic. Entry fee: $12. $500 / $300 / $200 / 7 x $25 gift vouchers. 

Narrative Magazine Spring 2021 Story Contest
Essays, memoirs, other forms, including fiction. Max. 15,000 words. $2,500 / $1,000 / $500 / 10(max) x $100. Entry fee: $27. For “works that have the ambition of enlarging our view of ourselves and the world”. 



August 9th
Tulip Tree Publishing’s Stories That Need to Be Told Contest
Non-fiction or fiction which tells a story. $1,000 grand prize, plus 5 x $200. 10,000 word limit. Entry fee: $20. 

August 31st
The Preservation Foundation Biographical Nonfiction Contest
For an autobiographical or biographical piece. $200 / $100. Opens June 30th. 



September 15th
Peninsula Pulse’s Hal Prize
Nonfiction of up to 4,000 words. $10 entry fee. (Also fiction and poetry accepted.) $250 / $100 / $50



October 31st
The Preservation Foundation Travel Nonfiction Contest
For an autobiographical or biographical piece. $200 / $100. Opens August 31st. 



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.

June 2021
Kentucky Women Writers Betty Gabehart Prize

July 2021
Canadian Stories Awards
PRISM International’s 2020 Creative Non-Fiction Contest

August 2021
Constance Rooke Creative Non-Fiction Prize / Malahat Review
Thomas Paine Award
The Preservation Foundation Award for Travel Nonfiction
Blue Mesa Review Summer Competition

September 2021
Faulkner Society Wisdom Competition
La Piccioletta Barca Contest
AILCAT Essay Prize 
Terrain.org 12th Annual Contest
The Forge Flash Nonfiction Contest
Surrey International Writers Conference Writing Contest
The Travelers’ Tales Solas Awards for Best Travel Writing
The Lascaux Prize in Creative Nonfiction
Boulevard Emerging Writers Nonfiction Contest
SF Writers Conference Writing Contest
Gulf Stream Summer Contest

October 2021
American Literary Review Contest
Jeffrey E Smith Editors’ Prize
Event Magazine’s Non Fiction Contest
Transitions Abroad Expatriate and Work Abroad Writing Contest
Writers Digest Personal Essay Awards
Ruminate Magazine’s VanderMey Nonfiction Prize
WOW! Women on Writing Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest
Tuscon Festival of Books Literary Awards Competition
Indiana Review Creative Nonfiction Prize

November 2021
Reed Magazine’s Gabriele Rico Challenge for Nonfiction
The Briar Cliff Review
The Malahat Review Open Season Awards
Carve Magazine’s Prose & Poetry Contest
Cutthroat Writing Awards 
Nowhere Magazine Fall Travel Writing Prize
ServiceScape Short Story Award
Prairie Fire Creative Nonfiction Contest
Soul Making Keats Literary Competition
51st New Millennium Writing Awards

December 2021
Erma Bombeck Writing Competition
Briarpatch’s Writing in the Margins Awards

January 2022
Mississippi Review Prize
H.R.Percy Short Creative Non Fiction Prize
JFK Library Profile in Courage Essay Contest
The Douglas B Rodgers Conditions of a Free Society Award
North Carolina Writers’ Network’s Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Contest
The Nine Dots Prize
Lazuli Literary Group Writing Contest
Please See Me Mental Health Awareness Writing Contest
The Pinch Journal’s Page Prize

February 2022
The BookLife Prize
Accenti Magazine Writing Contest
The TSR Nonfiction Prize
Ottawa Tourism Travel Writing Awards
The Writers’ Union of Canada Short Prose Competition
Creative Nonfiction Collective Contest
World Bank Blog Writing Contest
SPJ’s New America Award
AWP Prize for Creative Nonfiction
CBC Nonfiction Prize
Askew’s Words on the Lake Writing Award 

March 2022
The Hunger Mountain Creative Nonfiction Prize
The Writer 2022 Essay Contest
Griffith Review’s The Long and The Short of It
The Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest
Restless Books Immigrant Writing Prize in Nonfiction

April 2022
Red Hen Press Non-Fiction Award
Terry Tempest Williams Creative Nonfiction Prize
Zone 3 Press Creative Nonfiction Book Award
Gulf Coast Prize
Chi Media Company / The Milpitas Beat — 21st Century American Writing Contest
Tom Howard / John H Reid Fiction & Essay Prize
The Preservation Foundation Award

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

June 2022
Room Creative Nonfiction Contest
The Fiddlehead’s Annual Creative Nonfiction Contest

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