Writing contests are a great way to get your work in front of people in the industry. These 2020 writing contests are perfect for writers looking to take their writing career to the next level.

A hand holding a pen and a mug of coffee in the foreground with the text "2020 Writing Contests"

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One of my goals in 2020 is to enter 5 writing contests.

(I’ve entered two already.)

Writing contests are great because they give you a deadline, and nearly all contests give you feedback on your writing if you don’t win. I go more in depth on the pros and cons of writing contests in this video.

But suffice it to say that I’m all in on writing contests.

I also want to note that I’m about to share some really big writing contests. It’s cool if that’s not your thing.

Lots of local libraries and local writing organizations offer contests. When I was younger, my hometown newspaper had a writing contest too. You can almost always find some kind of contest that’s local to your area.

Whichever kind of contest you choose to enter, I think it’s important to emphasize how good contests can be for building up that thick skin as a writer. Feedback is great, and you’re never going to win every contest you enter. So, with that in mind, know that I encourage all writers to enter contests, even if it’s just to feel that sting of rejection.

(Nobody likes being rejected. It’s just a big part of the writing profession.)

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So, with all that in mind, here’s a list of 2020 writing contests!

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2020 Writing Contests

001: Writer’s Digest

Writer’s Digest offers tons of contests throughout the year, and I recommend signing up for their email list so you don’t miss any deadlines.

Whether you write fiction, nonfiction, short stories, self-published books, or ebooks, Writer’s Digest has a contest for that. The key is to pay attention to the deadlines as well as the submission guidelines.

(Seriously. They get tons of submissions. They don’t care if you’re the next great American writer if you can’t follow simple directions.)

The cool thing about Writer’s Digest is that a lot of their prizes are pretty substantial. You usually get paid in some way, and a lot of the time, you get interviewed for an issue of the magazine. Oh, and a lot of them offer the chance to sit with an agent and chat about your work.

002: Emerging Writer’s Contest

For my friends who write literary fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, there is the Emerging Writer’s Contest given through the Ploughshares literary journal at Emerson College in Boston.

If you are unpublished and 6,000 words of fiction or nonfiction, or 3-5 pages of poetry, this is the contest for you.

Winners receive $2,000 and publication in the literary journal itself. Winners get a conversation with the literary agency that partners with Ploughshares.

To me, the thing that makes this contest worth it is the judges. Each judge is always incredibly relevant in their field, and you’re sure to get good feedback from these people.

003: Raymond Carver Contest

This is another contest for literary writers. So, if you’ve got a literary short story that’s under 10,000 words, make sure you’re ready to submit on April 1.

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The first place winner will receive $2,000, but there are prizes that go to the second and third place winners, as well as two editor’s choice winners. And any stories that don’t win may be considered for publication in the magazine that runs this contest.

And a fun thing to note about this contest is that you enter multiple times with different stories.

004: Booksie 2020 Flash Fiction Writing Contest

It’s no secret I love flash fiction, especially since I share it every single Friday on my Instagram account. If you also like flash fiction, you may be interested in this contest.

Instead of leaving it open-ended, this contest gives writers a prompt in the form of a photo, and then let’s you run loose. Entries can be in any genre, but they must use the photo prompt as inspiration.

The winner gets $500 with 2 runners up receiving $100. Oh, and you can enter as many times as you want. So if you like the photo and know you can write about the picture they give you in under 500 words, this is the contest for you.

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005: 53-Word Story Contest

Who needs a whole flash fiction story when you can write one in 53 words?

These contests run each month with a new prompt each time. Entries are open the first day of the month, and close on the 21st.

And while this contest doesn’t offer a monetary prize, you do still get some benefits. Winners are published in Prime Number Magazine, and they get a free book from Press 53.

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You can read some of the previous winners online to get an idea of what they’re looking for.

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006: WOW! Women on Writing

WOW! runs quarterly flash fiction contests as well as quarterly creative nonfiction essay contests.

One of my favorite things about WOW! is that you can pay an extra $20 with your entry fee to get feedback from the judges. Again, I’m all about getting as much feedback as possible when it comes to writing contests, so I definitely recommend taking advantage of this.

WOW! also offers tons of classes for writers, so I would definitely recommend looking into WOW! as a source for all your writerly needs.

007: The César Egido Serrano Foundation Micro Fiction Contest

This contest is open to writers all over the world, though entries must be received in English, Arabic, Hebrew, or Spanish.

First prize winners get $20,000. Yes, $20,000. Three runners up receive $2,000.

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What’s Your Favorite Writing Contest?

Have you ever entered a writing contest? What kind of prizes do you look for in a writing contest? Do you try to enter a certain number of contests per year?

2 Responses

    1. That’s so awesome, Laurie! I think feedback is the best part. (Unless I win cash. Then that’s the best part.)

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