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. 

 

JANUARY 2021 DEADLINES

January 22nd
Lazuli Literary Group Writing Contest
$200 prize. $15 entry fee. For “work that is linguistically, intellectually, and emotionally demanding of the reader”. Essays, non-fiction and excerpts accepted.

January 31st
WOW! Women on Writing Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest (Quarterly, in April, July, October too)
200–1,000 words. Open to women internationally. 

Please See Me Mental Health Awareness Writing Contest
Nonfiction up to 4,000 words. $10 entry. $250 top prize. 

The Pinch Journal’s Page Prize
$10 entry fee; $1,000 top prize. Opens January 1st. For a piece of flash nonfiction up to 1,000 words. 

 

FEBRUARY 2021 DEADLINES

February 1st
The BookLife Prize
Opens 1st October. For “unpublished or self-published books — works for which the author has subvented the cost of the book’s publication”. 40,000–100,000 words. 

Accenti Magazine Writing Contest
Max. 2,000 words. C$30 entry fee. C$1,000 top prize; 3 x C$100. 

The TSR Nonfiction Prize
Opens January 1st. $1,000 / $500 prizes. Memoir up to 4,500 words. 

February 5th 
Ottawa Tourism Travel Writing Awards
C$500. No entry fee. For “outstanding travel writing featuring Canada’s Capital Region”.

February 12th
The Writers’ Union of Canada Short Prose Competition
C$29 entry. Open to citizens or residents of Canada. Fiction as well as non-fiction. Max 2,500 words. 

February 15th
Creative Nonfiction Collective Contest
Creative nonfiction up to 3,000 words. Entry fee: C$15/20. 

World Bank Blog Writing Contest
Open to young people in education, aged 16–19. 500 words. Theme: “How can we help every child learn, everywhere?” — based on the impact on education Covid 19 is having. 

February 16th
SPJ’s New America Award
For public service journalism. SPJ members $25 entry; non members $40. 

February 28th
AWP Prize for Creative Nonfiction
Opens January 1st. For book-length works. 

CBC Nonfiction Prize
Up to 2,000 words. Residents and citizens of Canada. C$6,000. 

Askew’s Words on the Lake Writing Award 
Opens February 1st. C$150 / C$75 / C$50. Poetry and fiction as well as nonfiction. Entry C$15. 

 

MARCH 2021 DEADLINES 

March 2nd
The Hunger Mountain Creative Nonfiction Prize
$20 entry fee. $1,000 top prize. $100 runner-up. 

March 15th
Griffith Review’s The Long and The Short of It
“A new competition for emerging writers”. Non-fiction (and fiction) of between 3,500 and 7,000 words. Any theme. “We want new ideas, fresh voices and bold perspectives. We’re looking for work that commands our attention”. Prize fund of $15,000. 

March 28th
The Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest
Preferred 2,000–5,000 words. C$1,000 top prizes; other entries considered for publication (and C$250 payment). Entry fee C$40. Essays sought which ‘the writer’s personal engagement with the subject provides the frame or through-line’. 

March 31st
Restless Books Immigrant Writing Prize in Nonfiction
Either a complete book, or 25,000 words plus detailed complete proposal. $10,000 plus publication.

 

APRIL 2021 DEADLINES

April 1st
Red Hen Press Non-Fiction Award
$25 entry fee. $1,000 top prize. For ‘previously unpublished essay collections, memoirs, research-driven and/or narrative non-fiction’. 

April 15th
Zone 3 Press Creative Nonfiction Book Award
Opens January 1st. $25 reading fee. 

April 20th
Chi Media Company / The Milpitas Beat — 21st Century American Writing Contest
For “culturally relevant, emotionally potent, strikingly original, tangibly heartfelt, and resonantly artistic works of prose” — nonfiction books 25,000–100,000 (plus novels and short stories also accepted). $40 entry fee. Top prize: $300 plus book publishing contract. Open to anyone in the US (except residents of Colorado, Maryland, Nebraska, North Dakota, Vermont).  

April 30th
Tom Howard / John H Reid Fiction & Essay Prize
For up to 6,000 words. Open internationally. $20 entry fee. $3,000 top prize.

The Preservation Foundation Award
For nonfiction animal stories (not a pet). $200 / $100. 

 

MAY 2021 DEADLINES

May 1st
Peninsula Pulse’s Hal Prize
Nonfiction of up to 4,000 words. $10 entry fee. (Also fiction and poetry accepted.) Cash prizes. 

May 15th
Ploughshares Emerging Writers Contest
Opens March 1st. Includes nonfiction. For writers yet to publish a book. Under 6,000 words. Free to subscribers, or subscribe to qualify for entry ($24).

May 31st
MTP 2021 Short Story Competition
Non-fiction accepted. £2,021 top prize. 3,000 words max. Open to authors worldwide. Entry fee £5 / £7. 

 

JUNE 2021 DEADLINES

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. 

 

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.

February 2021
Global Changemakers Competition (Worldwide) 

March 2021
The Fountain Essay Contest
The Writer 2020 Essay Contest
America Media’s 2020 Generation Faith Essay Contest
Fourth Genre Steinberg Essay Prize
Shuswap Association of Writers Contest 

April 2021
Torch Prize for Creative Non-fiction
WOW! Women on Writing Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest
Gulf Coast Prize 
Panther Creek Book Award in Nonfiction 

May 2021
December Magazine’s Curt Johnson Prose Awards
Sub Terrain’s Lush Triumphant Literary Awards
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
Eden Mills Literary Contest
Goi Peace Foundation’s International Essay Contest for Young People
A&U Christopher Hewitt Awards
A Midsummer Tale Narrative Writing Contest
North Street Book Prize
The Preservation Foundation Award for Biographical Nonfiction
New Millennium Writing Awards

July 2021
Canadian Stories Awards
Nowhere Magazine Spring Travel Writing Prize
PRISM International’s 2020 Creative Non-Fiction Contest
Lazuli Literary Group Writing Contest
WOW! Women on Writing Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest
Narrative Magazine Spring 2020 Story Contest

August 2021
Tulip Tree Publishing’s Stories That Need to Be Told Contest
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 DISQUIET Prize
The Douglas B Rodgers Conditions of a Free Society Award
North Carolina Writers’ Network’s Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Contest
The Nine Dots Prize

May 2022
The Iowa Review Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award for Veterans

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