10 Writing Contests You Should Definitely Enter

If you’re a new writer, chances are you’re not quite sure how to kick off your career. Should you get an agent? Write to publishers? Writing contests are a great way for beginners to get noticed. By definition they attract more amateurs than professionals, giving you a chance to compete with writers close to your own level. And if you’ve already started your career but want to take it up a notch, a well-known writing prize can really make your portfolio stand out.

It’s scary showing your work to the world. But you have to bite the bullet eventually, so you might as well do it for a cash prize!

Category: Short Stories
Entry Fee: £3 for subscribers, £6 for non-subscribers
Prize: First Prize £300, Second £150, Third £100.
Deadline: Ongoing
This monthly competition is run by the Writer’s Forum, with winning entries published in their magazine. Entry is rolling; if you miss the deadline you’ll simply be entered for the following month. You can also get feedback from the editors for £5, so even if you don’t win you can still improve your writing skills.

Category: Travel Writing
Entry Fee: None
Prize: £200 in currency from the Post Office
Deadline: Midnight on Wednesday
This competition runs every week, so there are endless opportunities to win. If your summer holidays aren’t really inspiring you then you can always write about a weekend trip to the country or even your own city. Submissions should be under 500 words.

Category: Short Stories, Flash Fiction
Entry Fee: £4
Prize: £50
Deadline: 6pm every Saturday
This terrifying competition publishes three themes at 5.30pm on a Saturday evening and then gives you half an hour to bash out a few
hundred words. Judges choose the three best entries, which are voted on during the following week. If you like the adrenaline rush of tight deadlines you’ll love this.

Category: Poems
Entry Fee: £5 for first poem, £4 for subsequent poems
Prize: First Prize £1000, Second £500, Third £250
Deadline: 31 July 2016
Any subject and any style is welcomed by this poetry competition, and the winners not only get a cash prize but the opportunity to read their
poetry to a captive audience at the Winchester Poetry Festival in October.

Category: Prose
Entry Fee: £4.00 for first entry, £3.00 for any subsequent entries
Prize: Winner £200, Runners-up £50
Deadline: 1 October 2016
No, not the Pulitzer. That might still be a little out of your league. This annual prize run by Prole Magazine is open to any kind of prose writing, fiction or non-fiction, so you can write pretty much anything that takes your fancy.

Category: Novels, Poems, Short Stories,
Entry Fee: £12
Prize: £300 for poetry, £500 for novel or short story
Deadline: 31 May (Short Story), 31 July (Novel), 30 November (Poem)
Cinnamon Press run a clutch of annual competitions as well as numerous mini-competitions throughout the year. The real prize here is not the money but the publishing contract they offer to the winner of every category. It’s only open to the unpublished, so perfect for amateurs looking to break in to the business.

Category: Non-fiction
Entry Fee: £20
Prize: Winner £20,000, Runners-up £1000
Deadline: 9 January 2017
Absolutely any kind of non-fiction is accepted by this biennial essay competition. If you’ve got a political essay, scientific article, travel story or memoir to share this could be the place. An anthology of the winners will be published in hardback by Notting Hill Editions.

Category: Novels
Entry Fee: £16
Prize: A mentoring package worth up to £990
Deadline: 14 February 2017
If you’re struggling to finish your novel then this competition is perfect for you. Instead of a finished draft, all you have to submit is a synopsis and the first page. The prize is to have your work appraised by a literary consultant and a development plan worked out to help
make your work really shine.

Category: Plays
Entry Fee: Free
Prize: £2500 plus guaranteed production in a professional theatre
Deadline: 31 August 2016
The judges for this year’s prize include Poirot actor David Suchet and Downton Abbey writer Julian Fellowes, so it has some serious celebrity cachet. The competition is incredibly fierce, but the chance to have your play actually performed by professionals is not to be missed.

Category: Novels, Poems, Short Stories, Flash Fiction
Entry Fee: £8 – £10 per submission
Prize: Up to £5000
Deadline: 31 May 2016

Yes, it’s the most prestigious writing prize in the UK. Yes, we’re seriously suggesting you enter. Okay, the chances of winning are slim, but even just taking part in such a respected competition will improve the quality of your writing.

What have you got to lose?

Even if you only enter small monthly competitions, the regular practice will make you a better writer. And if your novel or short story has been pushed to the bottom of your to-do list recently, a deadline and a pot of gold at the end might inspire you to polish up that old draft into something spectacular. So get writing!

 by Julie Martin.

Julie is a student, freelance writer and blogger. She manages to fill her life with her favourite work and hobbies. She is an editor  on MyMathDone, and she writes for resources like GettingSmart, YourStory and ELearningIndustry. You can follow her  on  Facebook  and  LinkedIn for more interesting stuff.

If you want to learn how to write a short story, join us for Short Cuts in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.

This article has 4 comments

  1. Sharon

    Great post. Are these contests open to writers from the U.S.?

  2. Writers Write

    Sharon, we believe so, but please read the rules of each competition on the individual websites.

  3. Crystalin

    Julie, thank you for giving me inspiration to take my courage in both hands and enter one of these competitions. Besides, I enter this short story contest https://unplag.com/blog/unplag-plagiarism-busters-contest. Hope, things will work in my favor 🙂

  4. MJ

    Hope our Fiction War is one of eleven next count! US-based, but UK are more than welcome. Great article!

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