How many times have you stared at a blank document, unable to pour out the words inside you? It’s common to struggle with consistency in your practice of writing. After all, writing is a difficult task, and especially so when you do it in a vacuum. Luckily, there’s a way out: writing contests.

Writing contests can connect you with a larger writing community and show you the various ways in which those around you are writing. These contests also provide the three things you need to write regularly: inspiration, motivation and dedication.

These competitions challenge you to think in newer ways, which also makes you write in newer ways. If the contest provides a theme, there is an added benefit of getting inspired about topics you otherwise wouldn’t have approached. Most often, these contests offer publication to not just the winners but also other commendable writers. So, at the very least, you stand to gain a free publication, if not the prize itself! You can get feedback from the judges and expand your audience by engaging in this communal experience of writing.

If nothing else, writing contests give you a final push in the form of deadlines, so that you’re forced to sit down and finish that draft before it has to be sent off!

As editors who love to see your literary careers flourish, we try to bring you resources that can help you grow. Starting this month, we’ve decided to keep you focused with a monthly list of upcoming writing competitions! Whether it is poetry you write, or short stories or essays, we’ve got you covered with the following contests happening next month:

Short Story Contests

The 29th Annual SiWC Writing Contest

This contest is held by the Surrey International Writing Conference, the most comprehensive of its kind in Canada. The word limit is 2500–4000.

Prizes: First prize $1000, honorable mention $150

Entry Fee: $15

Closing date: 17th September 2021

Mslexia Women’s Fiction Competition 2021

This contest is exclusive to women and there are three categories: Novel, Short Story, Flash Fiction. Prizes include agent introductions and publication in the inaugural ebook anthology Best Women’s Short Fiction 2021.

Prizes: £3000, three additional prizes of £100 each

Entry fee: £12

Closing date: 20th September 2021

Writers of the Future Contest

The most influential contest in the genre of science fiction and fantasy.

Prizes: $1000, $750 and $500; grand prize of $5000

Entry: Free

Closing date: 30th September 2021

The Ovacome Writing Competition

The short story competition helps raise funds for Ovacome’s ovarian cancer support services and awareness projects. Word limit is 2000 and the theme is “Connected.”

Restrictions: Only writers within the UK may participate

Prize: £250

Entry Fee: £5

Closing date: 30th September 2021

The Henshaw Short Story Competition

This competition organised by the Henshaw Press, which is a group of writers seeking to support emerging writers. Word limit is 2000.

Prizes: £200, £100, £50

Entry fee: £6

Closing date: 30th September 2021

Poetry Contests

Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition

The competition is held in two categories: Open and EAL (English as an Additional Language). The judge for this year is Will Harris, a highly acclaimed, award-winning poet.

Prizes: Two prizes of £1000 and £200 for both categories

Entry fee: £5 per poem

Closing date: 20th September 2021

Troubadour International Poetry Prize 2021

This contest is held by Coffee-House Poetry, which has a long history of poetry readings and publication. It will be judged by Linda Gregerson and John McAuliffe.

Prizes: £2000, £1000, £500, plus 20 commended poems

Entry fee: £5 per poem

Closing date: 27th September 2021

Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest

A prestigious contest with separate prizes for poetry in the traditional and non-traditional styles.

Restrictions: Entries from Syria, Iran, North Korea, and Crimea will not be accepted due to US government restrictions

Prizes: Top two prizes of $3000, 10 honorable mentions of $200

Entry fee: $15 for a submission of 1–2 poems

Closing date: 30th September 2021

Nonfiction Contests

The Diana Woods Memorial Award

Held by Lunch Ticket in the memory of author Diana Woods, the contest considers essays of creative nonfiction. Word limit is 750–3500 and the theme is “Milestones.”

Prize: $250 plus publication

Entry: Free

Closing date: 1st September 2021

Hektoen Grand Prix Essay Competition

Organised by the Hektoen International Journal of Medicine, this competition accepts essays on how various disciplines (such as art, history or literature) relate to medicine.

Restrictions: No essays dealing with COVID-19 will be accepted

Prizes: $5000, $2500

Entry: Free

Closing date: 15th September 2021

Boulevard Nonfiction Contest

This contest is for emerging writers of nonfiction, notably literary journalism and hybrid essays. Word limit 8000.

Prize: $1000 plus publication

Entry fee: $16 per essay

Closing date: 30th September 2021

Other Interesting Contests:

7 Day Story Writing Challenge

Entrants are assigned genres and themes at random, after which they have to write their stories within seven days.

Prize: £500

Entry: Free

Time duration: 6th–13th September 2021

First Page Challenge

Submit the first page of your writing and the judge, Michelle Barker, will choose the winners based on one question: “How likely am I to turn this page?”

Prize: $700, $200, $100 CAD plus publication

Entry fee: $5 CAD

Closing date: 30th September 2021

2021 International Literary Prize

Sponsored by the University Centre Grimsby, the competition is held for four genres of writing: poetry, short story, scriptwriting, and songwriting.

Prizes: Various, depending on the genre of entry

Entry Fee: £10

Closing date: 30th September 2021

We hope that this list has got your writing juices flowing! If these contests get you to write, then whether you get a prize or not, you’re already winning. All the best

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