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, 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 2020 DEADLINES

June 15th
Eden Mills Literary Contest
Open to writers in Ontario, Canada, only., 2,000 words max. $20 entry fee. 

Goi Peace Foundation’s International Essay Contest for Young People
“A Letter from Myself in 2030”. Ages in two categories 15–25 and 14 and under. 700 words. Various prizes. 

A&U Christopher Hewitt Awards
1,200 words maximum, on HIV/AIDS theme. No entry fee. $75 prize. 

June 21st
A Midsummer Tale Narrative Writing Contest
Creative nonfiction on Quarantine. 1,000–5,000 words. Modest Amazon vouchers as prizes. 

June 30th
North Street Book Prize
Opens 15th February. $1,000 plus extras. For Creative fiction and memoir. 200,000 words max. Collection of essays acceptable.

The Preservation Foundation Award for Biographical Nonfiction
On a person known to the author; autobiography accepted. $200 top prize; runners-up $100.

New Millennium Writing Awards
Nonfiction category (plus others). 7,499 words or less! $20 per entry. $1,000 prize. 

The Preservation Foundation Biographical Nonfiction Contest
Concerning a person known personally to the writer. 

 

JULY 2020 DEADLINES

July 1st
Canadian Stories Awards
Various categories, including Creative Non-fiction and True Stories. C$350 prize. C$20 entry fee. 

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

Nowhere Magazine Spring Travel Writing Prize
For stories that ‘possess a powerful sense of people, places and time’. $1,000.

July 22nd
Lazuli Literary Group Writing Contest
Any genre. “Send us the best you have … thoughtful, intelligent, and beautiful”. $15 entry. $200 prize. 

July 31st
WOW! Women on Writing Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest
200–1,000 words. Entry fee: $12. $1,000 / $300 / $200 / Amazon vouchers for runners-up + some extras. Open topic. Open to men too. (Opens shortly after previous quarterly competition closes.)

Faulkner Society Wisdom Competition
Essay, and various other categories. 

 

AUGUST 2020 DEADLINES

August 1st
Constance Rooke Creative Non-Fiction Prize / Malahat Review
Opens May 2020.

Tulip Tree Publishing’s Stories That Need to Be Told Contest
$1,000 + 5 x $200. 10,000 words max.

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

August 31st
The Preservation Foundation Award for Travel Nonfiction
On a factual trip taken by someone known to the author or the author. $200 top prize; runners-up $100.

Blue Mesa Review Summer Competition
Opens June 1st. Nonfiction category, as well as others. 6,000 words max. $12 entry. $500 top prize.

 

SEPTEMBER 2020 DEADLINES

September 15th
Transitions Abroad Expatriate and Work Abroad Writing Contest
For an original essay or mini-guide, 1,200–5,000 words, related to an experience living, moving or working abroad. $500 top prize; many other runners-up cash prizes. 

September 18th
Surrey International Writers Conference Writing Contest
Supposedly there is a non-fiction category, but nowhere is this specified on the page. Check before paying and submitting. Canadian award. 2,500–5,000 words. C$15 entry fee. C$1,000 prize. Small honourable mention award. 

September 21st
The Travelers’ Tales Solas Awards for Best Travel Writing
750–5,500 words, but 1,000–3,000 preferred. $25 entry for first two entries; $5 thereafter. Around 20 categories, including Women’s Story, Men’s Story, Funny Story, Cruise Story, Love Story ….  

September 30th
The Lascaux Prize in Creative Nonfiction
$15 entry. Up to 10,000 words. $1,000 top prize. 

Boulevard Emerging Writers Nonfiction Contest
Opens June 2nd. $1,000 for an essay by an unpublished writer. 8,000 words max. $16 entry. 

 

OCTOBER 2020 DEADLINES

October 1st
Mary C Mohr Awards
For a ‘work of creative nonfiction’. 

American Literary Review Contest
For creative nonfiction (other categories too). Opens June 1st. $15 entry fee. 4,000 words maximum. 

October 15th
Event Magazine’s Non Fiction Contest
C$3,000 total prize fund. 5,000 words maximum. C$34.95 entry includes magazine subscription. 

October 31st
WOW! Women on Writing Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest
200–1,000 words. Entry fee: $12. $1,000 / $300 / $200 / Amazon vouchers for runners-up + some extras. Open topic. Open to men too. (Opens shortly after previous quarterly competition closes.)

Tuscon Festival of Books Literary Awards Competition
Non-fiction piece or book chapter. 5,000 words max. $1,000 / $500 / $250. 

 

NOVEMBER 2020 DEADLINES

November 20th
Nowhere Magazine Fall Travel Writing Prize
Opens October 1st.

 

FUTURE DEADLINES

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.

August 2020
Peaceful Dumpling Environmental Writing Prize

September 2020
Hektoen Summer Essay Contest
The Preservation Foundation’s Nonfiction Contest
Literal Latte Essay Awards
Crab Orchard Review — two nonfiction awards
The Forge Flash Nonfiction Contest

October 2020
The Missouri Review’s Jeffrey E Smith’s Editor’s Prize
Sequestrum New Writer Awards
The Woven Tale Press Annual Hamptons Competition
Ruminate Magazine’s VanderMey Non Fiction Prize
Hidden River Arts’ Tamaqua Award
Bridges Together’s Kraemer IG Story Contest
Indiana Review Creative Non-Fiction Prize

November 2020
The Malahat Review Open Season Awards
The Briar Cliff Review
Reed Magazine’s Gabriele Rico Challenge for Nonfiction
Carve Magazine’s Prose & Poetry Contest
SMK Contests
Prairie Fire Creative Nonfiction Contest
49th New Millennium Writing Awards
ServiceScape Short Story Award
Cutthroat Writing Awards 

December 2020
Why My Family Counts contest
Brooklyn Film and Arts Festival Non-Fiction Prize
Lazuli Literary Group Writing Contest

January 2021
Nowhere Magazine’s Fall Travel Writing Contest
The Disquiet Prize
Erma Bombeck Writing Competition
WOW! Women on Writing Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest (Quarterly, in April, July, October too)
The San Francisco Writers Conference Writing Contest
The Douglas B Rogers Essay Competition
Nova Writes / Nova Scotia Writers Contest 
New Ohio Review Contest
Please See Me Mental Health Awareness Writing Contest
Hektoen International Writing Contest
Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Contest
I Must Be Off! Travel Writing Competition
The Iowa Review Awards
The BookLife Prize
Pinch Journal 2020 Page Prize
Graywolf Press Non-fiction Prize
The Page Prize in Non-fiction 

February 2021
The Preservation Foundation Awards 
The TSR Nonfiction Prize
Accenti Magazine Writing Contest
SPJ’s New America Award
The Writers’ Union of Canada Short Prose Competition
CBC Nonfiction Prize
AWP Prize for Creative Nonfiction
Words on the Lake Writing Award 

March 2021
The Hunger Mountain Creative Nonfiction Prize
The Hunger Mountain International Young Writers Prize
The Fountain Essay Contest
The Writer 2020 Essay Contest
America Media’s 2020 Generation Faith Essay Contest
Fourth Genre Steinberg Essay Prize

April 2021
The Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest
Red Hen Press Non-Fiction Award
Torch Prize for Creative Non-fiction
Tom Howard / John H Reid Fiction & Essay Prize
WOW! Women on Writing Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest
The Preservation Foundation Award — General Nonfiction contest 

May 2021
December Magazine’s Curt Johnson Prose Awards
Peninsula Pulse’s Hal Prize
Ploughshares Emerging Writers Contest
Sub Terrain’s Lush Triumphant Literary Awards
The Iowa Review Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award for Veterans
The Writers College Free Writing Competition

June 2021
Room Creative Non-Fiction Contest
The Fiddlehead’s Annual Creative Nonfiction Contest
Kentucky Women Writers Betty Gabehart Prize

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