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.



June 27th
Narratively Spring 2022 Memoir Prize
For “revealing and emotional first-person nonfiction narratives from unique and overlooked points of view”. $20 entry fee. $3,000 plus 2 x $1,000 prizes. (*Currently checking assignment of rights terms.)

June 30th
Preservation Foundation Storyhouse General Nonfiction Contest
On any nonfiction topic. “So-called creative nonfiction is not accepted”. No entry fee. $200 / $100 prizes. 

North Street Book Prize
For a self-published book. Various categories and prizes. $70 entry fee. 



July 31st
Women on Writing Nonfiction Contest
250–750 words. $10 entry. Various, and multiple, cash prizes and gift certificates. 



1st August
Constance Rooke Creative Non-Fiction Prize / Malahat Review
Top prize C$1,250. 4,000 words max. C$20 / C$35 (after 30th June) entry fee (C$10 extra for writers outside Canada). “No restrictions on subject matter or aesthetic approach”.

AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards
Various categories. 

9th August
Tulip Tree Publishing’s Stories That Need to Be Told Contest
For ‘a story’, be it nonfiction, or fiction or other. 10,000 words max. $20 entry fee. $1,000 grand prize. $200 for runners up. 



2nd September
Puerto del Sol Prose Competition
$15 entry. $1,000 top prize. For a self-contained work of up to 25 pages. (Fiction also accepted.)

5th September
Terrain.org 13th Annual Contest 
For “one essay or article, up to 5,000 words total, or up to three flash essays (up to 1,000 words each) per entry”. Also: “We will consider all nonfiction, but are most interested in creative nonfiction, including personal essays, lyric essays, memoir, literary journalism, and other literary forms”. $20 per entry. $1,000, plus $200 for runners-up. 

16th September
Peninsula Pulse’s Hal Prize
4,000 words max. $250 / $100 / $50 prizes. 

21st September
The Travelers’ Tales Solas Awards for Best Travel Writing
Various categories, but only cash prizes for overall ‘Grand Prizes’ of $1,000 / $750 / $500. $25 entry fee.

30th September
The Lascaux Prize in Creative Nonfiction
For “memoirs, chronicles, personal essays, humorous perspectives, literary journalism—anything the author has witnessed, experienced, learned, or discovered”. 10,000 words max. $1,000 top prize. $100 for finalists. Entry fee $15.



1st October
Jeffrey E Smith Editors’ Prize
Up to 8,500 words. $25 entry. $5,000 top prize. 

15th October
Event Magazine’s Non Fiction Contest
For creative non-fiction, where “writers are invited to explore the form”. Entry: C$34.95. C$3,000 total prize fund. 



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.

September 2022
Canadian Stories
Writers Digest Personal Essay Awards
SF Writers Conference Writing Contest
Boulevard Emerging Writers Nonfiction Contest
Dzanc Books Nonfiction Prize

October 2022
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
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
National Magazine Awards (Canada)
The BookLife Prize
Iowa Review Awards

February 2023
Please See Me Mental Health Awareness Writing Contest
Ottawa Tourism Travel Writing Award
Accenti Magazine Writing Contest
The TSR Nonfiction Prize
World Bank Blog Writing Contest
Askew’s Words on the Lake Writing Award
The Writers’ Union of Canada Short Prose Competition
Creative Nonfiction Collective Writing Contest
SPJ’s New America Award 
AWP Prize for Creative Nonfiction
CBC Nonfiction Prize
Red Hen Women’s Prose Prize

March 2023
Restless Books Immigrant Writing Prize in Nonfiction
Zone 3 Press Creative Nonfiction Book Award
The Writer 2022 Essay Contest
The Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest

April 2023
Zone 3 Press Creative Nonfiction Book Award
Terry Tempest Williams Creative Nonfiction Prize
The Gulf Coast Prize for Nonfiction 
The Preservation Foundation Nonfiction Animal Stories Contest
Tom Howard / John H Reid Fiction & Essay Prize
Tadpole Press 100 Word Writing Contest

May 2023
2023 Curt Johnson Prose Awards
Ploughshares Emerging Writers Contest
The Iowa Review Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award for Veterans
Lazuli Literary Group Contest

June 2023
The Fiddlehead’s Annual Creative Nonfiction Contest
Hunger Mountain’s Creative Nonfiction Prize
Living Springs Publishers’ Baby Boomers Plus Writing Contest
A&U Magazine Christopher Hewitt Award

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. Please read the About and Privacy Policy statements before using this site. Some links on MWM are affiliated. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.