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Creative writing contests and short story competitions with big cash prizes like the ones below can provide a real step up for writers.
Writing competitions can jumpstart a career. This happened to me when I submitted a sample of my unpublished novel to the Chapters/Robertson Davies writing contest for unpublished novelists. I'll never forget the thrill of excitement I felt when they contacted me with the news that I was one of six hundred writers invited to submit an entire novel manuscript.
I decided then that if my manuscript went further in the writing contest, I'd use that honour to find an agent, and I began my research.
When I learned that the shortlist of five novels included mine, I contacted the agent I most wanted to represent me, and she signed me and had a publisher interested within two weeks.
What an exciting time! If I won the contest, McClelland and Stewart would publish my novel and I would receive an advance on royalties. If I went no further than the shortlist, HarperCollins would publish the novel and I would receive a larger advance on royalties. The way I saw it, I couldn't lose!
I did not win the contest, but I won a career all the same.
So I encourage you to seek out creative writing contests and send only your best, most polished work, as winning means publication and often significant payment.
PLEASE NOTE: I was so far out of date on this contest list that it was about as useful as a one of those old pink two-dollar bills we used to have in Canada.
So I've taken it down for the moment--June 2019. But I'm doing a major overhaul on this site and will put it up again before summer is over. Many of you have written to tell me you appreciated the list, so I apologize for the inconvenience. I'm prioritizing and this is a little farther down the long list!
If you want to be aware of writing contests all year, well in advance, consider purchasing the book Writing to Win by Moira Allen, which is one of the most complete sources of which I am aware.
Current FICTION Writing Contests
OCTOBER Creative Writing Contests
NOVEMBER Creative Writing Contests
DECEMBER Creative Writing Contests
JANUARY Creative Writing Contests
Creative NON-FICTION Writing Contests