Opportunities: January 2020

A curated roundup for January 2020 of submission opportunities for short stories, poetry, and non-fiction writing.

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Happy New Year!

As the festive season fades into the background, many of us are now focusing on the things that we would like to change in the approaching year. Resolutions are made in (and normally broken by the end of) January and I hope that, like me, you are feeling ready for a challenge. I am sure that you will have set yourselves some writing goals for 2020 and I wish you all the best of luck with them. My personal one is to be brave and send more work out into the scary world of publishing. If you are planning to do the same, then here are the January opportunities to help you make a start.

The first place to consider when submitting your writing is, of course, Thanet Writers. Open for submissions of short stories, poetry, essays, and book reviews, there is no charge for submissions. On top of that, there are no restrictions regarding items being previously published, and to make it even more tempting £10 is paid for print rights to any piece that is accepted. Take a look at the submissions page for more details.

As well as sending out your work, why not make a resolution to come along to a writers’ group this year, if only to test it out? A good group will give you friendly support and encouragement on your writing journey—that is never a bad thing.

Thanet Writers hosts a group that meets on a Thursday evening at the Chapel Bar and Bookshop in Broadstairs, where you can get constructive critique on your work. This can help to provide you with clarification on any points that you may be finding difficult, and give you the incentive to keep writing if you are in a slump. The first Thursday Writers’ Group of 2020 will be held on Thursday 9th January.

If you’re not after critique, but instead would like prompting, then the monthly Dead Hoarse Writers starts on Sunday 12th January at Cliffs in Margate. This is a different kind of writers’ group, where you write at the group in response to exercises, and is supported and endorsed by Thanet Writers. This is a great way to think differently about your writing.

Perhaps you would prefer to meet other writers without sharing your writing at all, and instead get support and encouragement. For that, Thanet Writers are endorsing Writers’ Gremlins, which meets each month in the snug in Townley’s in Ramsgate. The first group is today, but don’t worry about bringing anything; it is a safe space to talk and be supported.

Maybe you want to be inspired to let loose and allow your writing to flow. If that is the case, then Julie’s Journaling is the place to be. Starting this Wednesday and running weekly throughout the year at the Margate Coffee Shed, this inspirational freewriting group focuses on writing for wellbeing and is led by a world-renowned journaling expert.

There are plenty of other groups and regular events happening throughout Thanet this year. For an up-to-date list, please see the Thanet Writers events page. If anything is missing, please let us know!

Short Stories

If the post-Christmas blues have already kicked in and you are dreaming of a break from it all, then this opportunity could be the one for you. The Writers & Artists Short Story Competition 2020 is now open to submissions until midnight on 13th February. Not only is this a very well-respected competition which would be an incredible accolade, but the first prize is a place on a residential Arvon creative writing course worth £1,000. The winning story will also be published on the Writers & Artists website. Short stories should be aimed at an adult audience and no longer than 2,000 words. There is no set theme so you have the chance to let your imagination free. Work must be original and previously unpublished. Only one entry will be accepted per person. There is no fee to enter but you must register your email address with the Writers & Artists website. Submissions should be via an email and it is worth checking the specifics of how to enter before sending your work in.

Another competition that is open for submissions until 31st January is being run by Storgy and has the intriguing title ‘Annihilation Radiation.’ Although this is a short story competition, it has a twist. It is not until you have entered, through Submittable, that you know the exact theme that your story should take. Within 24 hours you will receive further instructions and be given one of three specific time periods in which to set your piece: before, during, or after the annihilation of the world. Stories should be no longer than 8,000 words, double-spaced and in Cambria, Times New Roman, or Bookman Old Style font size 12. The front page should include your time period (before, during, or after) as well as the title of your piece and a word count. All shortlisted stories will appear in the Annihilation Radiation anthology and the winners will receive £500 for first prize, £100 for second and £50 for third. There is an entry fee of £10. It is advisable to enter as quickly as possible so that you have longer to write your story when you receive your instructions. Closing date is January 31st, so get your entry in quick to know what to write!


Poetry is very often used as a way to express emotions that are running just under the surface and help them feel more manageable. So when better to start writing it than the dreary month of January? Even if you have never tried it before, why not give it a go? The Foundry is open for submissions of poetry until 31st January and at the moment it is free to submit. They say that poetry is “the intangible cast into forms.” They will publish all styles and forms of poetry, and do not specify any length requirements, but state that work must “feel as much as it thinks.” Submissions are through Submittable and you can send up to six poems at once as either a single PDF or Word file with each poem on a separate page. The Foundry publishes issues in February, June, and October, and they request that you only submit once to each reading period. Featured works will be paid $20 per poem just after publication via Paypal or Venmo.

In an almost-local sounding link, international literary and art magazine The A3 Review is currently running their January contest and looking for poets to take on Thanatos, the Greek god of death. They say that you can write about the fear of death or near-death experiences, people who risk death for the sake of others such as fire fighters, or anything else that fulfils the topic. Poems should be a maximum of 150 words and contacts details should not appear on entries as judging is done anonymously. Multiple submissions are welcome but there is a $5 fee per poem. The two winning entries will be published in Issue 12 of The A3 Review and will receive contributor copies. The three overall winners of the September to February contest will receive cash prizes: £250 for first place, £150 for second, and £75 for third place. The deadline is 25th January and entry is through the Submittable.


Have you found yourself spending longer than usual on the internet since the days have been shorter? Do you feel a bit as though you are missing a limb if you go out and forget your phone? If so, then Guts Publishing could be an avenue that may interest you. They are open for submissions of non-fiction works between 1,000 and 5,000 words to feature in their next anthology, Stories of Cyber Lives. They say that they want you to consider how the internet has impacted our lives, but asking if you can have “a meaningful relationship without ever meeting in the ‘real’ world.” They want you to look at whether the internet has “made us less human” and are particularly interested in online dating and hook-up apps such as Tinder and Grindr. This should be original work only and not previously published elsewhere. The deadline for entry is 15th February.


If you are still in a quandary over which direction your new year is going to take and playwriting is your forte, then the highlight this month is for you. Papatango are offering an incredible opportunity:

Develop your play with Papatango over several months, building towards a four week run in London followed by a national tour in October and November 2020. The script will be published by Nick Hern Books. The writer will receive a royalty of 8% of the net box office in London and further royalties from the touring venues, and a £6,500 commission for their next play, with full development support from Papatango.

Papatango New Writing Prize is the biggest playwriting competition in the UK. They are looking for completely original plays that have not received any form of production anywhere in the world. They should run for a minimum of 60 minutes, with a rough guideline of 9,000 words or 40 pages. Anyone who is a resident of the UK or Republic of Ireland is eligible to enter, regardless of age or experience. It is worth noting that “translations, children’s plays, adaptations of classic plays or existing works in other media, music theatre, television, film or radio scripts are not eligible.”

Entry is anonymous and should be submitted in Microsoft Word or PDF formats only containing your script, the title, and your contact phone number. No names or addresses should be included. Every page should be numbered. The deadline for entry is 2nd February and it is free to submit.

This is a big chance to change your life if you write for the stage. That being said, whatever challenges you may have set yourselves for 2020, I hope that this roundup has given you not just the inspiration to sit down and write, but to share your writing with other people.

Having always been an avid reader, Zoe now writes fiction and poetry to relax and escape into her own reality for a while.

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