Writing Contests

Contests are a great way to sharpen your submission skills, stretch your imagination, and get your work out in the world. That’s why the Institute runs adult and kidlit writing contests throughout the year. Each contest culminates in a Winners Workshop where we announce the winners and critique the winning entries to help all entrants improve their skills. Plus, each contest has cash prizes for the top five entries. Check out our contests below.

ICL Poetry

What’s not to love about fall? Your mission is to write a fall-themed poem for kids. It can be funny, lyrical, thoughtful, or entertaining! No matter the tone, it should speak to kids.


IFW Thriller First Pages

Are you ready to try your hand at this plot-driven, action-packed genre? Submit the first 1,000 words of your thriller manuscript for a chance to win!


IFW My Funny Family Personal Essay

Is your family funny? This contest will be your chance to share a story about your family that will have us giggling, guffawing, and falling off our chairs.


  • Personal Essay written in first person point of view
  • True and funny story that somehow inspires
  • 1,000 words or less
  • This contest is now closed.

Looking to improve your contest entry?

by ICL Instructor Nancy Coffelt

by ICL Contributor Jan Fields

with Katie Davis and Nancy Coffelt

Our Most Recent Contest Winners
Past Contests and Winners

Check out our past contest themes and winners!

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