If you are up for a challenge (or looking for a distraction) during this time, consider entering one or a few of these upcoming contests. Writing contests can be an excellent way to gain experience and increase exposure for future career endeavors, like writing a book. Working under deadlines, practice editing and polishing your writing, and gaining feedback on your final submission offer higher values than the minimal cost of entry. Start small, if desired. One option below requires no more than 53-words for the entry!

Institute for Writers

The Institute for Writers offers year-round opportunities for any unpublished piece of writing. More information related to their next round of submissions will be released in May. The Institute also offers an opportunity for Children’s Literature submissions.

Cost of Entry: $19

Opportunity: Entry into an educational workshop and part of the $1300 prize money.

Deadline: Annually, August 31st

WOW! Women on Writing Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest

Sorry guys, this one is for the ladies. The mission of this writing contest is to inspire creative nonfiction and is open globally for all true-story submissions. From personal essay to lyric essay to hybrid essay — the contest has a 200-word to 1000-word essay entry cap, but there is no cap on the creativity!

Cost of Entry: $12

Opportunity: Up to $500 and publication in WOW! Women on Writing

Deadline: Annually, July 31st

Flying South

Winston Salem Writers offer submission opportunities for poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. Three best in category winners will be chosen in addition to a President’s favorite. This non-profit’s mission is to help writers interact, improve their craft, and realize their goals.

Cost of Entry: $25

Opportunity: Top prize $1000 and publication consideration.

Deadline: Annually, May 31st

Inkitt Writing Contests

The heart of this contest: algorithms. Inkitt’s unique contest opens the floor to authors of fiction and nonfiction books as the entries are judged according to reader engagement. The author with the most engagement involving likes, reads, and views will win the monthly cash prize. All submissions roll over month to month offering many opportunities for a win.

Cost of Entry: $0

Opportunity: The month’s first-place winner receives $300, Inkitt social media feature and a badge.

Deadline: Rolling monthly submissions

The Raymond Carver Short Story Contest

In its 20th contest year, The Raymond Carver Short Story Contest invites authors of previously unpublished work for submission. The short story lists a 10,000 maximum word count and will accept literary fiction only.

Cost of Entry: $17 online or $15 mailed

Opportunity: Cash prizes ranging from $125 to the top prize of $2,000, publication in the fall issue.

Deadline: Annually, May 15th

Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Contest

Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Contest will continue to support the work of up-and-coming authors as it has since 1971. Ploughshares defines “emerging” as authors who have not published or self-published a book. A winner will be selected from each category of nonfiction, fiction, and poetry.

Cost of Entry: $24 including a 1-year subscription to Ploughshares (No entry fee for current subscribers)

Opportunity: $2000 and publication in Ploughshares literary journal.

Deadline: Annually, May 15th

Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition

You better hurry! The early bird ends May 4th for the 89th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. The contest states over 500 winners will be chosen from a variety of genres listed on the website. Ten winners from each category will be selected and viewed by editors and agents.

Cost of Entry: $35

Opportunity: Top winner receives $5,000, aWriter’s Digest interview and Writer’s Digest publication.

Deadline: Annually, June 5th

The Saturday Evening Post Great American Fiction Contest

The contest is open! The Saturday Evening Post boasts 200 years of publication and invites you to participate in writing your own locally focused, American-centric short story. Stories must range between 1,500 to 5,000 words in length and six winners will be selected for cash prizes and publication.

Cost: $10

Opportunity: Top winner receives $1000 and publication in The Saturday Evening Post

Deadline: Annually, July 1st

Crazyshorts Contest

Crazyshorts is just that! Submit fiction no greater than 500 words in length. Entry acceptance will begin on July 1st so get ‘riding! Crazyshort is a great first contest. Authors can submit up to three shorts.

Cost of Entry: $15 and includes a year of Crazyhorse subscription

Opportunity: $1000 and publication in Crazyhorse

Deadline: Annually, July 31st

53-Word Story Contest

Just for fun and geared toward a specified prompt, writers have a 53-word cap, but full creative liberty. Topics are chosen on the first of every month. Past prompts include writing about a sandwich or writing about a chosen word without actually stating that word.

Cost of Entry: Free

Opportunity: Publication in Prime Number Magazine and a free book from Press 53.

Deadline: 21st monthly

If you’re looking for children’s writing contests, check these out.

If you’re entering writing contests, you might want to read this gem, How to Write Winning Short Stories, from Nancy Sakaduski, owner of Cat and Mouse Press and founder of the Rehoboth Beach Reads Short Story Contest. (That’s another good one to enter!)

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