Finding creative writing contests

Creative writing contests are a great way to improve your creative writing skills. They can help you grow as a creative writer or writer in general by testing your creativity and imagination. There are many writing contests both online and offline. Let’s have a look at the right way of finding creative writing contests that are suitable for you!

A number of these creative writing contests give incentives to the winners ranging from cash rewards to grants and awards.

Before you go on a hunt, here are a couple of things you should know first:

  • Creative writing contests do more than just test your writing caliber. They also test how you measure up with other writers in the category – which might be something you need to prepare for beforehand by reading more than you write.
  • You might be given the task of writing a short story, essay, poetry, script, etc. depending on which creative writing contest you choose – but they are almost always looking for fresh ideas and an original voice. If you write anything even remotely redundant or unoriginal then it’s a point taken from you.

With those tips out of the way, let’s now have a look at the right way of finding creative writing contests that are right for you!

Free contests

There are quite a few respected and reliable writing contests without any entry fees. All you need to do is do a Google search. Most of these contests work in a way where you have to send a copy of your work postmarked within the deadline.

Contests exist for both types of writers – amateurs and published ones.

For example, here are two contests:

  1. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest is great for amateur writers.
  • Short stories or novelettes that are up to 17,000 words.
  • Genres: fantasy or science fiction.
  • Prizes: $1000, $750, $500 plus an annual grand prize of $5000.
  • Deadlines for submissions are March 31, June 30, and September 30.

On the other hand, only those are eligible for the Drue Heinz Literature Prize who have published a book-length novel with a reputable publisher or have at least three short stories or novellas in journals that are recognized nationally.

  • 150-300 pages of a manuscript, short stories, or two or more novellas.
  • Genre: short fiction.
  • Prize: $15,000 and publication through the University of Pittsburgh Press.
  • The deadline for submissions is May 1 through June 30 annually.

Needless to say, the competition is pretty high in these contests. But look on the bright side. Even if you don’t make it, it can be a great way to improve and see where you stand. Do check the previous winners. There are dozens of free contests that can ignite a fresh, creative writing spark in you.

Paid writing contests

Then there are some writing contests that have an entry fee. The entry fees are usually minimal within the range of $10-20 in most cases, and the prizes, if you happen to win, more than make up for that initial expense.

For example, the SiWC Writing Contest has a first prize of $1000 plus publication. Honorable mentions get $150. The entry fee is $15 and the criterion is to send 2500-4000 words long unpublished short stories.

Another great example is the Great American Fiction Contest with a similar prize and up to five runners-up that get $200 each. The entry fee is $10 and the criterion is to submit 1500 to 5000 words long short stories in any genre as long as it revolves around The Saturday Evening Post’s mission statement of “Celebrating America – Past, Present, and Future”.