The Best Essay Writing Contests of 2023

Writing competitions curated by Reedsy

Showing 56 contests


Emerging Writer's Contest

Ploughshares

In the spirit of the journal 's founding mission, the Ploughshares Emerging Writer's Contest recognizes work by an emerging writer in each of three genres: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. One winner in each genre per year will receive $2,000 and publication in the literary journal. Authors are considered "emerging" if they haven 't published or self-published a book.

Top prize

$2,000

Additional prizes

Publication in Ploughshares

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $24

Deadline: May 15, 2022 (Expired)


Genres

Essay, Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Short Story

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2023 Book Prize

Unleash Press

Writers are invited to submit novels, short story collections and creative nonfiction manuscripts. The Editors' Prize winner receives a publication contract with Unleash Press and $1000 prize, along with 10 printed copies of the final book. We may also offer publication contracts to additional outstanding manuscripts.

Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publishing contract

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $35

Deadline: December 31, 2023


Genres

Essay, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Memoir, Novel, Short Story

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The Fountain Essay Contest

Fountain Magazine

We want to hear your COVID-19 story. What has the virus taught you about life? If you were not infected, what has your experience been like as an “outsider?” We encourage our contestants to explore this issue in a way that is most meaningful to them, and to do so while making sure to avoid speculative narratives and political polarization.

Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

$500, $300, $150

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $0

Deadline: April 01, 2022 (Expired)


Genres

Essay, Memoir, Non-fiction

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Irene Adler Prize

Lucas Aykroyd

The Irene Adler Prize offers a $1,000 US scholarship to a woman pursuing a degree in journalism, creative writing, or literature at a recognized post-secondary institution in the U.S. or Canada, based on an essay competition.

Top prize

$1,000

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: May 30, 2022 (Expired)


Genres

Essay

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Red Hen Press Women's Prose Prize

Red Hen Press

Established in 2018, the Women’s Prose Prize is for previously unpublished, original work of prose. Novels, short story collections, memoirs, essay collections, and all other forms of prose writing are eligible for consideration. The awarded manuscript is selected through a biennial competition, held in even-numbered years, that is open to all writers who identify as women.

Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication by Red Hen Press

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $25

Deadline: February 28, 2022 (Expired)


Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Short Story, Essay, Memoir, Novel

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Olive Woolley Burt Awards For Creative Writing

League of Utah Writers

The Olive Woolley Burt Awards are open to the general public for previously unpublished work. Discounts for entry given to members of the League of Utah Writers.

Top prize

$150

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $10

Deadline: May 13, 2022 (Expired)


Genres

Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Non-fiction, Poetry, Science Writing, Script Writing, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult

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Dandy Writers Short Story Contest

Dandy Writers

Submit a story of no more than 200 words. Your submission must be in line with the theme of the month. A writer is only permitted to submit one application per month. No more than one application. No plagiarism, even if it’s your work already published. Your work must be yours. Your data entered must be accurate. You must pay the entry fee. Note: Failure to comply with these rules will result to your application cancelled. And your entry fee will not be refunded. Thanks as you obey these rules.

Top prize

$300

Additional prizes

Writing Job

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $5

Deadline: May 30, 2023


Genres

Essay, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, Novel, Novella, Short Story

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Share Your Story

FanStory.com Inc.

Write about an event in your life. Everyone has a memoir. Not an autobiography. Too much concern about fact and convention. A memoir gives us the ability to write about our life with the option to create and fabricate and to make sense of a life, or part of that life.

Top prize

$100

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $10

Deadline: September 15, 2022 (Expired)


Genres

Essay, Memoir

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2022 Short Memoir Competition

Globe Soup

We’re looking for the best Short Memoir of no more than 3,000 words. A short memoir is a piece of creative nonfiction in which the writer explores a single episode of their life or a small selection of vignettes, connected by a common theme. The theme for this year’s competition is 'Places that have made me, changed me, or inspired me'. All participants can get extensive feedback on their entry and take part in our free Monthly Micro Writing Contests.

Top prize

$1,000

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $16

Deadline: May 17, 2022 (Expired)


Genres

Essay, Memoir, Non-fiction

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Between Man and God

Arts Lounge NYC

In most West African countries, queer people live in constant fear, abused by both public and private agencies that refuse to acknowledge their rights to live and love freely. This contest and anthology celebrates their tenacity and their refusal to be silenced. Honorarium will be given to the top three best selected entries to acknowledge the excellency of their craft and to encourage visibility through writing. All shortlisted submissions will be published.

Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

$750 for second place, $500 for third

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: September 15, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Essay, LGBTQ, Non-fiction

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Jane Austen Society of North America Essay Contest

Jane Austen Society of North America

JASNA conducts an annual student Essay Contest to foster the study and appreciation of Jane Austen's works in new generations of readers. Students world-wide are invited to compete for scholarship awards in three divisions: high school, college, and graduate school.

Top prize

$1,000 scholarship

Additional prizes

Two nights’ lodging for JASNA’s Annual General Meeting

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: June 02, 2022 (Expired)


Genres

Children's, Essay

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We the Students Essay Contest

Bill of Rights Institute

The Bill of Rights Institute engages, educates, and empowers individuals with a passion for the freedom and opportunity that exist in a free society. Students in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Armed Forces schools abroad, and students in United States territories are eligible to participate in its contest.

Top prize

$7,500

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: April 15, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Children's, Essay

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Fall Travel Writing Contest

Nowhere Magazine

We are looking for young, old, novice and veteran writers to send us stories that possess a powerful sense of place. Stories can be fiction, nonfiction, poetry or essay.

Top prize

$1,000

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $20

Deadline: December 15, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Essay, Non-fiction, Poetry, Fiction

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Justice Centre Essay Contest

Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms asks Canadian students to answer (in 1000-2500 words) the following question: Should citizens who refuse to get vaccinated have the same rights and freedoms as those who do get vaccinated? This contest is open to all Canadian youth who will be between the age of 15–24 on the date they submit their essay.

Top prize

$2,000

Additional prizes

$1000 for 2nd, $500 for 3rd

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: October 31, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Essay, Non-fiction

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The Tamaqua Award for a Collection of Essays

Hidden River Arts

Hidden River Arts offers an award of $1,000 and publication by Hidden River Press, an imprint of Hidden River Publishing, for an original collection of essays. Previous publication of individual essays is acceptable, as long as you include the list of the published essays, the journals and magazines where they appeared, and authorize that the publication rights have reverted to you, as author.

Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication by Hidden River Arts

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $20

Deadline: October 31, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Essay, Non-fiction

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Vocal Challenges

Creatd

Enter themed storytelling contests to put your creativity to the test and be in with a chance of winning cash prizes and more. To submit, you'll need to sign up for a monthly fee of $9.99, or $4.99/month for 3 months.

Top prize

$1,000 — $5,000

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $15

Deadline: December 31, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Essay, Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, Short Story

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Youth Writing Contest

The Vancouver Writers Fest

The Vancouver Writers Fest's annual youth writing contest is open to all students enrolled in grades 8-12 in British Columbia. Entries will be accepted for previously unpublished short stories (fiction or non-fiction) and personal essays: 1,500 word limit. The first-prize winner will receive a $200 cash prize and the second-prize winner, a $100 cash prize.

Top prize

$200

Additional prizes

$100

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $0

Deadline: May 31, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Short Story, Essay, Fiction, Non-fiction

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Nowhere Magazine Spring 2021 Travel Writing Contest

Nowhere Magazine

A prize of $1,000 and publication in Nowhere Magazine is given twice yearly for a travel-specific short story, long-form creative nonfiction piece, poem or essay that possesses a powerful sense of place, character or time. Unpublished and published pieces that have not previously been chosen as a contest winner are eligible. Submit your 800- to 5,000-word piece with a $20 entry fee by June 30, 2021.

Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication in Nowhere magazine

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $20

Deadline: June 30, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Essay, Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Short Story

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Nowhere Emerging Travel Writers' Prize

Nowhere Magazine

We are looking for never-been-published travel writers from anywhere in the world to send us stories—fiction, nonfiction, essay or poetry—that possess a powerful sense of place, people and time.

Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication in Nowhere Magazine

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $15

Deadline: March 31, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Essay, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, Poetry, Short Story

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Juniper Prizes

University of Massachusetts Press

The Juniper Prizes for Poetry, Fiction, and Creative Nonfiction are awarded annually to original manuscripts: two books of poetry, one work of creative nonfiction, one short story collection, and one novel. The University of Massachusetts Press publishes the winning manuscripts and the authors receive a $1,000 award upon publication. Submissions are accepted between August 1 and September 30.

Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication by University of Massachusetts Press

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $30

Deadline: September 30, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Essay, Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, Novel, Poetry, Short Story

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The Lascaux Prize in Creative Nonfiction

The Lascaux Review

The Lascaux Prize in Creative Nonfiction opens 1 April. Creative nonfiction may include memoirs, chronicles, personal essays, humorous perspectives, literary journalism—anything the author has witnessed, experienced, learned, or discovered. Pieces may be previously published or unpublished, and simultaneous submissions are accepted. Winner receives $1,000 and a bronze medallion. Finalists receive $100. Winner and finalists are published in both the online and annual print editions of The Lascaux Review.

Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication in the Lascaux Review

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $15

Deadline: September 30, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Essay, Memoir, Non-fiction

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