A creative writing competition conundrum.

Welcome back!

All weekend I have been searching for free or low entry fee writing competitions. I even checked my own Twitter page, Writers Represented, where we retweet opportunities for under-represented writers. There’s a lot of good stuff there (if I do say so myself), but no joy in terms of what I need specifically. I have found many writing competitions with entry fees around the £7 mark. And that’s not a lot, right?

The rate for contribution-based Job Seekers Allowance is just £73.10 per week. It’s £57.90 if you have the nerve to be under 25 years old. It’s just £3.90 if you’re on an apprenticeship (jeez). Seven pounds on job seekers allowance or minimum wage is suddenly at least a tenth of your weekly income or just under or over one hour of work. And if you enter two competitions? It’s two tenths. It’s two hours of work. And so on and so forth.

It’s entering a writing competition or buying gas so you can have a bath. It’s a writing competition or skipping breakfast for the week. Unacceptable sacrifices that we can’t expect people to make no matter how passionate or ambitious they are. Let’s not romanticise suffering for our art and call it what it is: a barrier for people on a low income.

At the last minute, I asked Kit De Waal on Twitter and her followers for any further help. She delivered, because she’s awesome. Admittedly, she did confirm what I already feared.

KitDeWaal question

As did many other people. Check the tweet out to see them all.


So, there you (kind of) have it. It’s been quite a journey. What have we learned? That there are barriers to writing competitions, but people are making effort to help under privileged writers and there are free ones out there if you look.

Free writing competitions –

Writer’s HQ Flash Fiction competition

Forge Litmag

Curtis Brown First Novel Prize


Low free entry poetry competitions –

Planet In Peril – £3

The Marsden the Village Poetry Competition – £4

Wergle Flomp Humour Poetry Contest – Free


Free writing competitions that I don’t qualify for (but might be useful for you!) –

Spread The Word – For Londoners.

Creative Futures Writer’s Award – For unpublished writers only.

Writers & Artists Working Class Writer’s Prize – For unpublished writers only.


Phew. That was exhausting. I’m gonna go get writing! Are you going to enter any competitions mentioned? Good luck if you are!


A big shout out and thank you to my writer friends on Twitter who were a huge help.


– Kate

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