If you’re a high school student who enjoys creative writing and friendly competition, then a writing contest may be for you! Did you know that there are many national writing contests available?

Winning a writing contest would not only be gratifying and provide a great addition to your resume, but these contests also include awards and prizes for the winners and finalists. Awards may range from monetary amounts, gift certificates, and publications to even all-expense paid trips. For example, the JFK Profile in Courage Essay Contest combines scholarships, cash awards and travel: the winner receives a $10,000 cash award and travel and lodging expenses to attend the ceremony in Boston.

Each contest has its own requirements regarding the topic, length of writing, genre, and deadline. There are a variety of categories for these creative writing contests, including Literary Analysis, Script, and Poetry.

Literary Analysis

Literary analysis essay contests are based on a specific piece of literature, and they are judged on both writing style and content. Judges look for writing that is clear, articulate and logically organized. The student should demonstrate a solid grasp of the themes and messages in the novel or play about which they’re writing. For example, the Ayn Rand Institute hosts yearly essay contests for students from 8th grade through graduate school. Currently, topics center on three of Rand’s popular novels, Anthem (8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade), Atlas Shrugged (12th grade, college and graduate), and The Fountainhead (11th, 12th).


Are you captivated by the marvelous stories told on stage? Put your pen to paper and enter a playwright contest! YouthPLAYS invites students, 19 and younger, to participate in their New Voices One-Act Competition by submitting a new, unpublished piece for the stage. Plays must be non-musical one-acts between 10-40 minutes in length.


A plethora of poetry contests allow students to submit pieces of a more personal nature. The Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest invites students to express their thoughts through poetry. The Margaret Reid Prize will be awarded for a traditional style poem, which uses regular rhyme and/or meter or is written in a recognized poetic form. The Tom Howard Prize will be awarded for a poem written in any genre or style.

Writers Choice

Bow Seat is hosting the 11th annual Ocean Awareness Contest. Students 11-18 years old are invited to participate in the 2022 creative challenge-The Funny Thing About Climate Change. Participants are asked to think about how to talk about climate change in a “fresh way.” Submissions are accepted in the following forms: Creative Writing, Visual Art, Poetry & Spoken Word, Film, Performing Arts: Music & Dance, and Interactive Multimedia.

One of the largest youth art and poetry contests in the world is the annual River of Words Contest hosted by Saint Mary’s College of California, inspired by the environment and the natural world. Over the past twenty-five years, this contest has been inspiring the community with brilliant submissions that fuse science and the arts. The contest is open to K–12th grade students. All artwork must be original, and poems should be no longer than 32 lines.

Enjoy exploring the many opportunities offered by creative writing contests. With such a wide range of creative topics, there’s something for everyone, and you may even start to build up some funds for college!

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