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Ultimate List of Writing Contests

January 06, 2015 - Posted to Study

Content 9

Calling all Writers was the name of a huge student writing contest when I was a kid.

I think it was actually a national contest, but there were prizes given at the school, county and state levels. With clean faces, dress-up clothes, and a big smile, those of us who were occasional winners would have our pictures taken with the principal, county supervisor, or some state official, as we received a certificate and a U.S. Savings Bond. This was a big deal for an elementary student.

Since those early years, I have come to love writing contests.

As a middle schooler, I improved my craft by entering as many creative writing contests as possible, usually with short stories and poems. I was not, at that time, a serious essay writer – that came later.

Once in high school, I discovered that I could “double-dip” with all of my English essays. I turned them in to my teacher, and then searched for writing contests for money awards. What I discovered was that lots of these contests go begging for entrants, so my competition was not always that stiff. 

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I started winning cash, and that’s when I figured out that the “pen” could possibly earn me a living that would not tie me down to a desk for the rest of my working years.

In college, I majored in journalism, but I always secretly yearned to be creative with fictional works as well. I wrote short stories and novelettes and entered a bunch of fiction writing contests. Most prizes involved just getting published – that was enough of a reward for me!

There was also that annual college essay contest that I entered every year with all-times tested satirical piece about society or government. These essays were fun to write and certainly fine-tuned my journalistic skills, not to mention the fact that there was a cash award.

Today, I write for a living, as a freelancer. I write articles, blogs and website content, and I often submit essays/editorials to lots of journals and publications. But I have never quite gotten over that thrill of entering an essay contest for money and still continually search for competitions that will get my “name” out there.

Most recently, I have produced a novel – a piece of “fluff” fiction that an e-publisher has decided to market – imagine that! I also enter all sort of magazine writing contests, just because you never know when your essay or short story might be the catalyst for greater things!

If you aspire to a writing career, my advice is to start with writing contests as early as possible!

Below, I have listed some major writing competitions for both age and genre. Obviously, there are many more, but then, this list would become endless (and I would be never paid for it, haha).

The news is - most of them are quarterly or annual and that they award winners with both money and publication! Isn’t it nice to see one’s name in print?

University Competitions

Most major university English departments have a publication that features high school, college and adult competitions in all genres. You do not have to be a student at the specific university in order to enter the contests, and they accept non-fiction works, short stories, poetry, and longer fiction and non-fiction works. Enter as often as you like, and there is never an entry fee.

Student Writing Contests

From elementary through graduate schools, writing contests abound! The sweet thing about these contests, they offer either cash or scholarship money awards, and most organizations that offer these competitions have categories for all academic levels.

You might want to check out the following for starters: Primarily for K-12 students, there are age and genre categories. Again, lots of categories and age groups! This is a great competition for students who like to write short essays (500 words or less), and cash awards are given monthly!


College Essay Contest Opportunities

TrustEssays Writing Competition – yes, our service launched a writing contest too with lucrative cash prizes. Get to know more details to participate. has contests all of the time, and in all writing genres. While their writing contests 2014 are almost over, you can still get in on the tail end of these and look for what is available in 2015. is a site that offers the College Prowler Essay Competition – great financial aid awards for seniors getting ready for college or for college students in need of additional money!

www.eliewiese/ is a competition site primarily for college students who want to write essays on the subject of ethics. The awards can be substantial!

Creative Writing Contests

Check these out if you have a creative “bent” and love to compose poetry or short fiction: Plenty of contests throughout the year in poetry, fiction and non-fiction categories. Winners and non-winners both may still get published in their journals, and it’s nice to have our name in print when you apply for writing positions! this is an arm of Blue Mountain Press, a publishing company that loves creative pieces of any genre, for cash awards and for publication. Southeast Missouri State University has great contests for aspiring poets and authors. Check out all of their categories for a cash award and the chance to be published in their nationally acclaimed journals.

Fiction Writing Contests

Love to write short stories, novelettes, or novels? There are a huge number of contest opportunities, all of which offer publication along with cash awards. Look at the following: This organization looks specifically for student novels – get published while you are still in school! A private foundation that promotes unpublished fiction authors with competitions that offer cash awards and the chance to be published for the first time. If you happen to love writing science fiction, this site is for you!

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Teen Writing Contests

Lots of organizations want to encourage teenagers to pursue writing careers, so they have contests throughout the year. Check on specific contests and deadline dates on these sites: These contests are for all genre categories – poetry, fiction and non-fiction. As the website address indicates, competitions are limited to fiction and non-fiction storytelling. An all-encompassing clearinghouse for writing contests – all categories represented!

Short Story Contests

Both students and adults can compete for cash awards and the chance to be published, on any number of organizational websites. Here are just a couple of sites at which you can participate in a short story contest. There is an entry fee, but the cash awards and the chance to be published for the first time are worth it! This is perhaps the most widely known publication that runs short story contests throughout the year. Winners are published in the digest, and receive cash awards! A university-sponsored English publication, the competition is limited to fictional short stories. Get a little money and get published!

Young Writer Contest Opportunities

As this category suggests, organizations are looking for promising young authors, K-12.

Generally, there are categories for both genre and for age groups, so if you are a parent of a creative, young writer, you can encourage participation in these competitions. Winning a young writers contest is a huge motivator for a kid to continue to write! Short fiction is the genre specificity Focusing on fiction only, there are age grade level categories of K-3, 4-8, and 9-12. Contests throughout the year for cash and publication – fiction only please!

Professional Schools Writing Contests

If you are in a professional program (law, medicine, business), you should know that there are subject field writing contests for you too.

For example, one really lucrative medical school essay contest is offered through Each year, a question of medical ethics is posed, and any student enrolled in a med school can compete. The winner receives a $5000 cash award, and runners up each receive $1000 – some nice “pocket change!”

Winning essays are also published in the Virtual Mentor journal.

A Final Word

If you are really serious about a writing career and getting some recognition, then you should check out a great clearinghouse site for writing contests – You will find pages and pages of competitions, all organized by writing genre, entry deadline dates, and awards. This is truly a great resource – use it!


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