Get into Writing: Competitions

Getting noticed in any industry is tough, but the world of writing is even harder than most. Along with the usual advice to write a lot, read a lot and jump on all opportunities that come your way, there are a few tried and tested methods which can get you some credits on your writing CV.

One is ENTERING COMPETITIONS. Winning or being commended in any competition will obviously make you stand out (and you’ll win stuff- yey!). But competitions specifically for young people are usually about more than just prizes: often they are a route to publication opportunities, development opportunities (such as mentoring or residentials) and networking opportunities too.

And even if you’re not the winner, entering competitions is also a great way to get disciplined: it’s a reason to finish and edit your work, and to start getting used to following guidelines and submission criteria.

Most importantly, it’s fun. So be brave and submit.

Poetry Business New Poets Prize

Described as: “for writers between the ages of 16 and 22 (inclusive) and running alongside the main Poetry Business competition”

Who is it for: poets aged 16-22

Where do you have to be from: the UK

What do you have to do?: submit short collections of 12 pages of poems

What do I win?: Four outstanding collections will be selected to receive mentoring, readings, publication in the North magazine.  One of the four collections will be published as a pamphlet by smith|doorstop, and two winners will receive a place on an Arvon residential of their choice in 2016.

Deadline: 31 January 2016

Details: HERE


Agincourt 600 and Young Poets Network

Described as: “asks you to delve into Agincourt’s history and legacy, and create a poem that explores this battle afresh.”

Who is it for: poets aged 5-18 (different categories for primary and secondary school pupils)

Where do you have to be from: the UK

What do you have to do?: submit poems inspired by Agincourt

What do I win?: overall winner in each category will receive a certificate, £100 in book tokens and a day of poetry workshops at the winners’ school. Runners-up will receive £50 in book tokens, and all winners and runners-up will also receive books, notebooks and other poetry goodies.

Deadline: 31 January 2016

Details: HERE

Cumbria Young Writers Award

Described as: “an award which celebrates the extraordinary talent of outstanding young writers aged 14-18 who live, work or go to school or college in Cumbria.”

Who is it for: young writers, aged 14-18

Where do you have to be from: Cumbria

What do you have to do?: submit writing on the theme of a “journey”

What do I win?: Each member of a short-list of 15 will receive a £25 book token, free tickets to attend any 10 events at the Words by the Water Festival and publication in the 2015 Cumbria Young Writers’ Anthology. Excerpts from their work will be read by actors at the Awards ceremony at Theatre by the Lake to a large and discerning audience before the announcement of the winner. He/she will receive £250, and two runners-up £125 each.

Deadline: 1 February 2016

Details: HERE

Cuckoo Young Writers Award

Described as: “an award for the most promising young writer (aged 14-18) of fiction, prose or creative non-fiction from the North of England”

Who is it for: young writers, aged 14-18

Where do you have to be from: North of England

What do you have to do?: submit up to 2000 words of prose or up to 10 poems

What do I win?: £200 and an invite to the prestigious Northern Writers Awards

Deadline: 3 February 2016

Details: HERE

500 Words

Described as: “one of the most successful story-writing competitions for kids in the world.”

Who is it for: VERY young writers, aged 5-13

Where do you have to be from: UK

What do you have to do?: submit a story with 500 words. Any subject, any genre.

What do I win?: books and tickets to the swanky award ceremony

Deadline: 7pm on 25 February

Details: HERE

Wicked Young Writers Award

Described as: “established by the long-running musical Wicked in order to link the important messages of the production with a competition that would inspire young people to use their writing to look at life a little differently”

Who is it for: writers aged 5-25 (there are LOTS of categories)

Where do you have to be from: UK

What do you have to do?: submit a story, poem or drama

What do I win?: Invites to the swanky award ceremony and publication in the Wicked anthology

Deadline: 11 March 2016

Details: HERE