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Why not distract yourself by entering one of the following competitions:-

The Spread the Word 2021 Life Writing Prize is inviting entries for original, unpublished life writing up to 5,000 words from unagented UK writers. Entries may be a standalone piece or an extract from a longer piece – but must be based on the author’s personal experience and must not be fiction. The first prize is £1,500, plus an Arvon course, a writing mentor, two years’ membership of the Royal Society of Literature and an optional development meeting with an agent or editor. Two runners-up will each receive £500, a writing mentor and an optional agent or editor meeting. The top twelve will be published online and in a booklet. Entry is FREE, and the deadline is 1 February. Details: http://www.spreadtheword.org.uk

Writers’ & Artists’ Short Story Competition 2021 2,000 words on any theme. The prize is a place on an Arvon residential writing course, plus publication on the site. Entry is FREE, but you must register at their website to do so.Deadline 12 February. Details: http://www.writersandartists.co.uk/competitions

The Penguin Michael Joseph Christmas Love Story Competition. This competition is to give new writers from the UK and the Republic of Ireland the opportunity to have their novel published in the run-up to Christmas 2022, with the winner receiving a contract with Penguin Michael Joseph and the opportunity to ‘connect with an agent’. Send a Christmas Love Story pitch of no more than 200 words, plus 1,000 words of your manuscript. Check out full entry details at: https://www.penguin.co.uk/company/publishers/michael-joseph/penguin-michael-joseph-christmas-love-story. Deadline 14 February.

The Globe Soup Winter 2020 Flash Fiction Competition is looking for an 800-word short story featuring a secret location. Writers entering the competition will be sent details when they have paid their entry fee and all entries must be set in that location. Globe Soup is a travel website, but stories do not need to feature travel. The winning entry will receive £1,000 and the entry fee is £5. Closing date: 11 February Details: http://www.globesoup.net

Spotlight First Novel Competition. A one-page synopsis plus the first page of an unpublished novel. Prizes: mentoring package. Entry fee: £16. Closing date: 14 February. Details: http://www.adventuresinfiction.co.uk

Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award for crime novels: first 3,000 words plus a synopsis of up to 1,000 words. Prizes: £500. Entry fee: £36. Closing date: 26 February. Details: http://www.thecwa.co.uk

Crime Writers Association Margery Allingham Short Story Competition for stories up to 3,500 words fitting Allingham’s definition of a mystery. Prizes: £500, two passes to CrimeFest 2022. Entry fee: £12. Closing date 26 February. Details: http://www.thecwa.co.uk/ShortStory/rules.html

Fish Publishing Flash Fiction competition. Send up to 300 words on any theme. Prizes: 1,000 Euros; 300 Euros; an on-line writing course. 10 entrants to be published in the annual Fish Anthology. Entry fee: 14 Euros. Deadline 28 February. Details: http://www.fishpublishing.com

The Scottish Arts Club Short Story Competition wants entries of original, unpublished short fiction up to 2,000-words. Entries may be on any topic and do not have to be set in Scotland or have Scottish themes. The first prize in this international competition from the Scottish Arts Trust is £1,000, and there are second and third prizes of £500 and £250. The Isobel Lodge Award will be given to the best story by an unpublished writer born, living or studying in Scotland. Winning stories will be published in the next Scottish Arts Trust Story Awards anthology. The entry fee is £10 per story, and the closing date 28 February. Details: http://www.storyawards.org/shortstoryaward

Please note that because of our current situation, some competitions have been obliged to make changes to their arrangements/entry dates/prizes – so double-checking everything before entry is especially important.

We know reading is good for you, and believe that putting words down on paper can also be therapeutic, so why not either dust off an old manuscript or compose something completely new?

Good Luck!