Spread the Word are looking to uncover the best emerging life writers

Could you be the next Roxane Gay? Do you have a story to tell? Enter this aspiring writers' competition with £1,500 up for grabs too

Author Roxane Gay sitting in a chair wearing a shirt rolled up showing tattoos
Author Roxane Gay

If your plans for 2020 include finally sitting down and getting your story out into the world, then head’s up! One of the most renowned writing organisations in the UK is on the lookout for the best new and emerging writers who have a unique tale to tell. They want real-life stories, particularly from black and minority backgrounds. So if your heroes are Maya Angelou or Audre Lorde ­– writers with exceptional talent as essayists and memoirists – Spread the Word’s new competition is tailor made for you.


Your life, your words


First up, what exactly is life writing? According to Spread the Word it’s defined as: “intended to be true, reflecting someone’s own life journey or experiences and is not fiction”. To give you a flavour of what they’re after, take a look at the impressive work of the judges. Kerry Hudson is lauded for her writing on being working class, having recently published Lowborn about growing up in Britain’s poorest towns; Nell Stevens pens brilliant memoirs including Bleaker House and Sathnam Sanghera is a well-known journalist whose wit and insightfulness made his bestseller about his own childhood calledThe Boy with the Topknot such a massive success.  


Blake Morrison, professor of creative and life writing atGoldsmiths, University of London and patron of the Life Writing Prize, said:"In the era of fake news, life writing has never been more important. Its premise is truth-telling. And it's a way for voices we're not used to hearing -voices from the margins and fringes - to make themselves heard. No literary genre is more democratic. And with democracy under threat, that lends it even more potency."

Searching for unheard voices


From tales of your childhood, relationships, health, gender and love, there’s huge potential areas to find your inner voice. Ruth Harrison, director of Spread the Word, said: "The prize shows that life writing is a vital and dynamic literary form with nearly 1,000 submissions being received from across the UK in 2019. We are looking forward to not only supporting and celebrating up and coming writers but also to reading and hearing stories that often go unheard." 


Feeling inspired? Get your skates on, as final entries need to be in by 3 February 2020. It’s all free and the winning package sounds pretty spesh: you will receive £1,500, an Arvon course, a writing mentor, two years’ membership of the Royal Society of Literature and the option to meet with an agent and editor. Two highly commended writers receive a writing mentor and £500. Writer Max Porter; historian Colin Grant, and 2017 Life Writing Prize finalist Kerri ní Dochartaigh will mentor the 2020 winners. Good luck!


To enter, or for more information visit https://www.spreadtheword.org.uk/projects/life-writing-prize/



❤ Picked for you ❤

Go Up