Enter a Writing Contest to Challenge Yourself in 2016

The New Year is a time to look for new challenges, and one way to change things up is to enter a writing contest.

Before you start listening to your inner editor who tells you that you’re not ready and that you’ll think about doing that, “someday” or that the judges will not take your entry seriously, I can tell you that is not true. I’ve had the privilege of being on the judging panel of more than one writing contest, and I’ve never had anything but the utmost respect for the writers who submitted their work for consideration.


Why You Should Enter a Writing Contest

If you still aren’t convinced that entering a writing contest is a good idea, here are some other reasons you should consider it:

  • You could win a prize.
    If you don’t enter the contest, you have no chance of winning. Depending on the writing contest, prize money could be hundreds or even in the thousands of dollars. You don’t have to come in first to pocket some money; secondary prizes are also available.
  • Your work can get noticed.
    There are benefits other than monetary ones to entering writing contests. Part of the prize may be having your work published in a magazine or on a website. This type of exposure as a contest winner could lead to more opportunities.
  • Preparing for the contest helps improve your writing and editing skills.
    Since you’ll want thispiece of writing to be absolutely top notch, you’ll be sure to polish it until it shines. You’ll take great care to make sure that it demonstrates your best effort and that it is grammatically correct and has no spelling errors. You’ll follow the formatting instructions to the letter, too. These skills can only benefit you in any assignments you take on for clients.
  • Your confidence will get a boost.
    It’s not easy to take a chance and enter a contest where you know your work is going to be judged. The fact you took that step is something to be commended.

Fees for Writing Contests

Right about now you may be thinking about the cost of entering writing contests and wondering whether it’s worthwhile to consider the ones that charge an entry fee. The fees help to defray the cost of running the contest, if there is no organization sponsoring it. The funds to pay out cash prizes has to come from somewhere.

Take the time to do your own due diligence before entering any writing contest that charges a fee. Read the winning entries from previous years to see what kinds of works the judges feel fit the criteria of what they are looking for. Go over the guidelines – more than once. Make sure that it’s a good fit for the kind of writing you do and that you have enough time to produce something of quality before the deadline. If not, either move on or bookmark the contest for next year.

List of Writing Contests

1. 10th Annual Short Story Challenge

Deadline: January 21, 2016
Fee: $55.00*

This is a creative writing competition open to writers worldwide. There are three rounds of competition in total:

January 22-30, 2016
March 17-20, 2016
April 29-30, 2016

Initially, writers are assigned randomly into heats. They are assigned a specific genre, a subject and given character assignments. Writers are then given eight days to write a story of up to 2,500 words. The judges choose the top five writers in each heat to advance to the second round.

In Round 2, writers, get new assignments but they only have three days to write a 2,000 word story. The finalists are selected to move into the third round. In Round 3, the writers are given the task to write a 1,500 word story in 24 hours. The judges review the stories and the winners are chosen.

*Save $5.00 on the entry fee by posting on Twitter or Facebook.

2. Erma Bombeck Writing Competition

Deadline: February 15, 2016, 8 a.m. EST
Cost: 15.00

This writing competition for 450-word personal essays is open to writers from all over the world. Categories are Humor and Human Interest. Essays must be previously unpublished. Winners in each category will receive $500.00, plus free admission to the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, which is hosted by the University Dayton from March 31-April 2, 2016 (valued at $425.00).

3. Central PA Magazine Writing Contest

Deadline: February 26, 2016
Cost: No Fee

Are you a Pennsylvania resident over the age of 18? Central PA magazine is accepting entries of original, unpublished work under 1,500 words for the 2016 Writing Contest. The entries can be made up of short stories or fiction. The winners will be announced at York College on April 28, 2016.



4. Script Pipeline TV Writing Contest

Deadline: March 1, 2016 (early); Final Deadline is May 1, 2016
Cost: $50.00 per script
The 9th Annual Script Pipeline TV Writing Contest is inviting aspiring television writers to send in their work for consideration. The winner receives a prize consisting of $10,000.00, a consultation with Script Pipeline’s Director of Development, additional material review for potential circulation, long-term circulation and development, and more.

5. 2016 Jolley Prize

Deadline: April 11, 2016
Cost: AUS$15.00 for current Australian Book Review subscribers; AUS$20.00 for non-subscribers.
The ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize is an international contest open to writers from around the world. There is no age limit. Prize money totalling $12,500.00 is available to be won, with the first prize-winning author taking away $7,000.00. The second and third prizes are $2,000.000 and $1,000.00. The judges will commend three additional stories, and the authors will receive $850.00 each.

Entries must be original, unpublished works of between 2,000-5,000 words. Winners will be announced in August.

6. Writer’s Digest Writing Competition

Deadline: May 6, 2016
Cost: $15.00 for poetry, $25.00 for manuscripts

The winner of the 85th Annual Writer’s Digest Competition will receive some sweet prizes, including $5,000.00 in cash and a paid trip to the Writer’s Digest Conference. Other winners will receive cash prizes ranging from $1,000.00 to $25.00 and a credit toward a purchase at the Writer’s Digest Shop.


Inspirational Writing (Spiritual/Religious)
Memoirs/Personal Essay
Magazine Feature Article
Genre Short Story (Mystery, Romance, etc.)
Mainstream/Literary Short Story
Rhyming Poetry
Non-rhyming Poetry
Stage Play
Television/Movie Script
Children’s/Young Adult Fiction

Full instructions for submitting an entry online or by e-mail are provided on the website. You can edit or manage your entry online once you have entered the contest.

7. Ploughshares at Emerson College

Deadline: Opens March 1, 2016 at noon and closes May 15, 2016 at noon EST
Cost: $24.00

The winner of the Emerging Writer’s Contest will be awarded $1,000.00. The contest is open to writers who wish to submit previously unpublished works of fiction, nonfiction or poetry.

Manuscripts must be under 6,000 words, and poetry in the three-five page range. All entries are to be submitted via the online submission manager on the website. Writers must be previously unpublished to enter the contest.

8. ABA Journal/Ross Writing Contest for Legal Short Fiction

Deadline: May 31, 2016

This contest is open to US citizens or permanent residents. Entries to the contest must be works of fiction of no more than 5,000 words. The theme of the contest is the role of the law or lawyers in modern society. The winner of the contest receives $3,000.00.

The contests listed below are just a few of the contests open to writers. As the New Year gets under way, there will be more writing contests for you to consider.


photo credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

photo credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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