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COMPETITIONS INFO

We love competition because it creates a quick, easy way to pack a lot of practice into a short amount of time. The more you practice, the faster you'll improve overall. Join us for a few of the many competitions we run throughout the year and find out how The Writer's Workout can help you be a better writer.

 

If you love competition as much as we do, sign up for our mailing list and we'll reach out for every competition and publication opportunity we offer. 

 

 

Below is a list of competitions we currently offer. We also maintain a list of what we've run in the past, further down the page, and a list of helpful definitions in case something doesn't make sense. Terms with an asterisk (*) are defined below.

 

 

 

The Writer's Workout is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit run by volunteers.

We provide accessible, free creative writing education through competitions, workshops, and publication opportunities. Check our donations page to learn more about how The Writer's Workout strengthens the global writing community. 

Current Competitions

Fest

Fests are like a miniature, low-stakes version of Writer's Games: three Event*-style challenges over back-to-back weeks. These competitions change depending on the time of year and the judges' tastes. Registration is limited and required in advance but the competition is free and open to all ages worldwide.

These competitions include blind* review and feedback*. 

Leapfest: register in January, Events in February

Scarefest: register in September, Events in October

 

 

 

Fiction Potluck

This quarterly competition is free to enter and open to fiction writers of all ages worldwide. Each quarter's guest judge creates a challenge. They provide a tip* to help writers navigate the challenge and writers have six weeks to create their entry. Our selection team chooses up to ten finalists for the quarter and the guest judge picks the winners. Registration is not required.

This competition includes blind review and published winners (as received*)

Submissions accepted: January, April, July, and October

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The Writer's Games

Easily our most popular feature, The Writer's Games is... not your ordinary writing competition. Limited registration is free and open globally to writers over 16. This age limitation is important because this competition is TOUGH, even for adults with decades of practice. Games includes six surprise Events over consecutive weeks, each with a 72-hour deadline. Judges review and critique every entry blind, then score entries based on their use of the Event's Core Concepts*. The competition begins with a Practice Event: writers receive feedback on their entry but the scores don't count. We publish the top five scoring entries in each of the remaining five scored Events. 

 

Writer's Games is NOT an elimination* challenge: once you're registered, you're eligible to compete in all six Events regardless of how you score. You can even choose to skip a week!

This competition includes blind review, feedback for every entry, and published winners, all for free.

 

Due to its popularity, we hold two Mock Events in the month before registration. This helps writers try the challenges before they commit. Mock Event entries are used in our internship training program so feedback is included. 

Mock Events: April 19 & 26, 2024

Registration: May 1, 2024

Games Events begin: June 14, 2024

 

 

 

Writer's Games judges are interns: they're the future of the publishing industry. Our internship program is open to anyone over 18, worldwide. Enrollment in a college or university program is not required but course credit is available. Interns are expected to be fluent in English, think critically, and support their opinions in open discussion with peers.

 

This is a great opportunity to see a side of the publishing industry frequently unavailable to many writers. 

 

Also available: 

Prompts!

Sometimes competition is too daunting but we're still "in need" of a challenge. We provide fairly extensive lists of writing prompts, both connected in series and standalone. Some lean toward a genre, some don't. If you're up for the challenge, check them out!

Prompts

Prompt Series

 

 

Publications

We offer multiple publication opportunities, available in the Publications tab.

WayWords Literary Journal (open quarterly)

Tales (open annually)

 

 

 

  

Retired Competitions

Writing Arcade

The Writing Arcade wasn't a traditional competition but more a personal challenge. This feature was available by subscription only; it included a complicated web of challenges, points, and feedback. More points unlocked more challenges and leveling. It was entirely self-paced and writers could select quests, difficulty options, and poetry or prose at every stage. We even had a leader board! As much as we loved it, Arcade was complicated and required more hands-on attention than three volunteers could manage. 

The challenges didn't go to waste! Check the Prompts page and try a few for yourself. 

 

 

 

Teams

Did you know The Writer's Games started as a team challenge? In 2014, the first ever portion of Games was a team challenge with four teams competing in seven Events. We loved the idea of writers working together, learning from each other, to create a single piece of fiction. The Teams portion continued each year until the competition grew too great: bickering, infighting, and general disrespect led us to end the annual Teams portion after 2018. 

 

We've resurrected this idea a few times with the Group Writer Challenge (2021) and Team Challenge (2023) but alas, we just can't seem to make it work. 

 

 

 

 

Definitions

 

Blind Review

A review of a work without identifying information or knowledge of the writer. 

The Writer's Workout always uses blind review. All submissions must include four lines of Title Information (specified on all pages where submissions are accepted) that help determine which reading team gets to see the work. When you submit your work, Theresa sorts and removes your name/email, then sends it to the team. 

 

 

Core Concepts

The foundations of writing. These aspects apply to every genre with varying intensity; focusing on improving the Core Concepts makes you a better writer much faster than regular practice alone. 

 

 

Elimination Challenge

A high-pressure tiered system where having a single bad day could throw you out of the whole competition. At The Writer's Workout, we feel elimination challenges are detrimental to mental health and creative progress. We support learning and advocate for mental health; we will never run elimination challenges. 

 

 

Event

A set challenge with a specific goal and measured guidelines. 

It's important to note an Event is not a prompt. Where an Event has a clear purpose, a prompt is a loose starting point.

 

 

Feedback

A critique of your piece. The Writer's Workout prefers the Compliment Sandwich method with special focus on Core Concepts for Writer's Games and Fests. The Compliment Sandwich method opens with praise of specifics, includes specific areas that need improvement, and closes with general praise about style, voice, and other aspects that apply to how you write. 

 

 

Judge's or Editor's Tip

A helpful suggestion to show you what the judge or editor might be looking for. Where most challenges encourage free exploration, sometimes too much freedom is daunting. A tip from the reviewer helps you narrow down your extensive list of creative ideas so your final submission more closely aligns with what the judge or editor hopes to see.

 

 

Published As Received

The piece will not receive notes or time for revision before publication. Sometimes, this means we publish typos. Everything you submit (anywhere) should be publication-ready but honestly... nobody's perfect. There will always be things you want to change about pieces you've written. For Fiction Potluck, we publish the piece we received without edits so you get to see what we judged. All other publication opportunities include an editing phase.

 

 

 

 

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