16 Free Writing Contests for September 2019

These contests offer cash prizes for fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. They range from $50 to $25,000, and some are for themed writing. There is also a bonus contest which offers a standard publication contract – the advance, if any, is unspecified. Also look at this list of grants and fellowships – several deadlines are coming up. None of these charge a submission fee. – S. Kalekar

Brilliant Flash Fiction: Feed Us
They want flash fiction submissions from writers around the world. The entries should be up to 300 words (excluding title), and the prompt is ‘Feed Us’.
Value: $100, $30, $20
Deadline: 1 September 2019
Open for: All writers
Details here.

The Helen Schaible International Sonnet Contest
For this contest, they have two categories: a traditional sonnet, which can be Shakespearean or Petrarchan, and a modern sonnet. Poets can enter work in one or both categories. They accept mailed submissions only.
Value: $50, $35, $15
Deadline: 1 September 2019 (postmarked)
Open for: All poets
Details here.

Planet Essay Competition
This is an essay contest for writers under 30 years, on any subject. Entries for the contest run by this Welsh magazine should be 1,500-2,000 words. Their guidelines say, “We would welcome creative and unconventional ways of exploring the essay form as well as a more traditional style.” Submissions have to be sent by mail.
Value: £200
Deadline: 1 September 2019
Open for: All writers under 30
Details here.

Hubert Butler Essay Prize: Where does a citizen of the world belong?
This is an essay prize for EU citizens. Write an essay of up to 3,000 words on the topic, ‘Where does a citizen of the world belong?’ The prize is intended to encourage the art of essay-writing with a European dimension and to expand interest in Hubert Butler’s work. Entries have to be mailed.
Value: £1,000; two second prizes of £500
Deadline: 2 September 2019
Open for: EU citizens
Details here.

Canongate Books: The Nan Shepherd Prize for Nature Writing
This is for unpublished UK and Ireland based writers who consider themselves underrepresented in nature writing (see guidelines). Writers need to send a sample chapter of up to 10,000 words as part of the submission.
Value: A publishing contract with £10,000 advance, editorial mentoring, literary representation
Deadline: 10 September 2019
Open for: UK and Ireland based writers
Details  here and here.

Gulf Coast: The Toni Beauchamp Prize in Critical Art Writing
This is a prize for critical art writing of up to 1,500 words. The writing can be unpublished, or published in the last one year. They will accept a variety of creative approaches and formats to writing on the visual arts, including exhibition reviews, thematic essays, and scholarly essays. They also have other contests open now, which charge a fee.
Value: $3,000; two prizes of $1,000 each
Deadline: 15 September 2019
Open for: Unspecified
Details here and here.

Transitions Abroad: 2019 Expatriate and Work Abroad Writing Contest
This is an international contest for professional and freelancer writers, to write a non-fiction inspirational and practical article or mini-guide of 1,200 to 3,000 words that describes their experience living, moving, and working abroad.
Value: $500, $150, $100, $50
Deadline: 15 September 2019
Open for: All professional and freelance writers
Details here.

The Horne Prize: Australian Life
They want an essay that addresses some part of the theme ‘Australian Life’. Essays should be 2,500 to 3,000 words. Writers need not be published or professional writers, or Australians to enter – they seek insights from all writers who have been engaged with or affected by Australian culture. The essay could be a profile, a reported feature on a particular issue, or a series of vignettes. There are a few kinds of writing they are not looking for, including essays that look on the past without that reflecting on the present or the future, lyric or memoir essays that are purely expositional, or essays about David Horne (see guidelines). The winner must get to Melbourne in December for the prize ceremony; domestic travel and hotel expenses will be met if necessary.
Value: AUD15,000
Deadline: 16 September 2019
Open for: All writers
Details here and here.

Royal Society of Literature: Giles St Aubyn Awards for Non-Fiction
The Royal Society of Literature has established annual awards for first-time writers of non-fiction in perpetuity. These awards are for two writers, for their first commissioned books of non-fiction. They are meant to provide financial support for talented new writers to complete their first book of non-fiction for a mainstream audience, especially by buying them time for writing or research. The writer must be a resident of UK or Ireland.
Value: £10,000, £5,000
Deadline: 16 September 2019
Open for: UK/Irish writers
Details here.

Ayn Rand Institute: Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest
This is an international essay contest for students. It is for 12th graders, college undergraduates and graduate students. Write an essay of 800-1,600 words on one of three specific topics centred around Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged (click on ‘Topics’ under the ‘Atlas Shrugged’ tab). The guidelines also say, “All entries become the property of the Ayn Rand Institute and will not be returned. Essays may be reproduced on our website and/or shared with third parties for purposes of marketing the contest.” Their previous two student contests were centered around Anthem and The Fountainhead.
Value: $25,000, $2,500, $500, $100
Deadline: 19 September 2019
Open for: All students
Details here.

The Val Wood Prize for Creative Writing: Love Letters
They want love letters for this contest. Their guidelines say, “Entries should be in the form of a love letter and entrants are free to write about whatever they wish as long as the theme of love and the form of a letter are adhered to. Each entry can contain more than one letter, provided that the maximum word count is 1500.” The contest is open to anyone aged 16 years or older.
Value: £100, £50, two prizes of £25 each
Deadline: 21 September 2019
Open for: All writers
Details here.

Owl Canyon Press Short Story Hackathon
Writers are invited to submit a story 50 paragraphs long, with the first and 20th paragraphs provided by Owl Canyon Press. There is no maximum word count, but each paragraph has to be at least 40 words. Writers to not have to live in the US to enter the contest. They take pretty much any kind of stories, including literary, sci-fi, dystopian, and romance.
Value: $3,000, $2,000, $1,000
Deadline: 30 September 2019
Open for: All writers
Details here, here, and here.

The Writers College: My Writing Journey Competition
They want a 600-word piece on ‘The best writing tip I’ve ever received’. The contest is open to writers all over the world.
Value: AUD200/£100
Deadline: 30 September 2019
Open for: All writers
Details here.

Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest
They want a short story on any theme. Stories should ideally be up to 3,000 words, though those up to 5,000 words are accepted. Readers of the magazine are interested in music, social history, literature, politics, art, film and theater, particularly that of the counter-culture of mid-twentieth century America. Their newsletter subscribers include publishers, artists, musicians, and fellow writers. Their guidelines say, “While your writing should appeal to a reader with these interests and in these creative professions, all story themes are considered.”
Value: $100
Deadline: 30 September 2019
Open for: All writers
Details here.

The Johnson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize
The prize is for a debut work of creative writing and for this cycle, they are accepting literary non-fiction work in progress. The book should be by a Caribbean writer living and working in the Anglophone Caribbean. Writers need to send a manuscript extract of up to 3,000 words as part of the application. The prize is now in its second year.
Value: TT20,000 (or the equivalent in US dollars, about $2,900), mentoring and workshop in the UK, potential literary representation
Deadline: 30 September 2019
Open for: Caribbean writers (see guidelines)
Details here and here.

The Academy for Teachers: Stories Out of School
They want stories, of 6-479 words, about teachers and schools. The story’s protagonist or narrator must be a K-12 teacher. Sentimentality is discouraged and education jargon is forbidden. The stories will be published online by Electric Literature.
Value: $1,000, $500
Deadline: 1 October 2019
Open for: All writers
Details here and here.

Bonus: The Iowa Short Fiction Award & John Simmons Short Fiction Award
The awards offer publication for a collection of short stories. Manuscripts must be at least 150 pages. They offer a standard publishing contract. Submissions must be sent by mail.
Value: Manuscript publishing under a standard University of Iowa Press contract
Deadline: 30 September 2019 (postmarked)
Open for: All writers who have not published prose fiction (see guidelines)
Details here.


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