Talking Writing is a nonprofit digital magazine that features essays, first-person journalism, poetry, and visual art.


At TW, we care about writing that's honest, personal, and a joy to read—and we seek writers with diverse backgrounds, strong voices, and a commitment to words that impact the world. Please visit talkingwriting.com to get a sense of the magazine's style and TW's eclectic mix of journalism and literature.

• Personal Essays and Themes: Each issue of Talking Writing has a theme—such as "Transitions" or "Writing and Faith." When submissions are open for a theme, entry details will appear in the listings below.

• Poetry Spotlights: TW often highlights a specific theme for poems or hybrid work, such as math poetry or "Honoring Muriel Rukeyser." When submissions are open for spotlight poems, entry details will appear in the listings below.

• Contests: TW awards one or two annual writing prizes, with the categories changing each year. During the contest periods, entry details appear in the listings below.

• Other TW Pieces: For information about submitting "Why I Write" essays, cartoons, and other kinds of features with rolling deadlines, see the full list of categories below.


General Submission Guidelines

Queries and simultaneous submissions are welcome, but please tell us in your cover message if your work is also being considered elsewhere and notify us if it is accepted.

Upload each submission as a separate file in Word, PDF, or RTF format. Make sure your draft is easy to read.

For nonfiction essays, features, and hybrid poems, be sure to include complete references for any direct quotes you cite or factual information you include.

Submission Fees: The submission ($3) and contest ($15) fees partially offset our administrative costs. TW has limited editorial resources and a small budget. While we’re aware that submitting payments online is difficult for some writers, managing submissions online helps us to keep publishing.

There are no submission fees for comics, visual art, and queries. Ask away!


"The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible." — Vladimir Nabokov, Lectures on Literature 

We're looking for short personal essays that have a strong first-person voice and dig deep into the meaning of personal experience, a public event, or other topic. No political diatribes, life hacks, or lyrical experiments, please. Feel free to query us first about the subject for your essay or feature. 


LENGTH: 1,000 to 1,500 words.


The nonfiction part: Please verify all factually based information, attribute all direct quotes, and provide your sources. It's okay to use pseudonyms for people, but please let readers (and us) know which names are pseudonyms.











TW occasionally accepts short lyric essays and other flash nonfiction. In general, we look for personal stories told from a strong first-person point of view by writers of diverse backgrounds. We're especially drawn to personal essays that grapple with aspects of the writing, reading, or teaching life. 

LENGTH: up to 500 words.

In addition, flash nonfiction and memoir pieces are often related to the theme of a given issue. For more information, please see which theme categories are open on Submittable.



 TW publishes short essays that address the essential question for writers: Why write? 

LENGTH: 800 to 1,200 words.

A note about hybrid work, memoir, or anything else with nonfiction elements:  Please verify all factually based information, attribute all direct  quotes, and provide your sources.

TW features occasional comics in its issues. Submissions may be ongoing strips, single cartoons, or excerpts from graphic novels. We enjoy meta takes on storytelling, witty puns, and sheer goofiness. ("Zippy the Pinhead" is an old favorite of one TW editor.) We like comics about literary authors and culture—and often look for a connection to one of our quarterly themes. Please do not submit political cartoons.

Send up to 3 images (no more than 1 Mb in total).



TW features the work of a visual artist or photographer in each issue. We also use spot art from a variety of sources. Please submit up to three images (1 Mb total for all images).

Submit queries or pitches for theme essays, if you want feedback about whether an idea will work for TW.

You can also query us about anything you think we might be interested in that doesn't fit the standard categories, such as reviews of particular books, ideas for new columns, or interviews with writers. See TW's Submissions page for more information.

Please enter your query (up to 500 words) in the "cover letter" field of the submission form.

This submissions category is for previously published pieces only. If you want TW to review an unpublished story or essay, please submit that in the appropriate categories. Otherwise, you'll receive a form response directing you to do so.

Talking Writing occasionally reprints excerpts from books and other journals published by small or university presses. You'll find a list of previous publications on the TW Reading Series page.

Our selection process is based on what TW editors like and upcoming themes in the magazine. We take suggestions from readers, contributing writers, and publishers. If you'd like us to consider work for the  TW Reading Series, please submit a query about it here.

Helpful information: Where was the piece originally published? How do you know about it? If you're the publisher or an author's publicist, can you confirm that the author retains the rights to reprint a given work? if the work appears in a book, can you send us a review copy?

Documentation: We need proof that a given piece originally appeared in print. A small print magazine may no longer exist, but if you still have a copy of the issue with your piece in it, please scan that and submit it as a PDF file. You can also provide weblinks, if appropriate.

A Note to Authors: We strongly suggest that you ask your publisher or publicist to send the query about appearing in the TW Reading Series. They will be able to confirm when it was originally published and who holds the copyright; they can also get us final edited files and images. If you decide to send a query yourself, follow the instructions under "Documentation."

Please enter your query (up to 500 words) in the "cover letter" field of the submission form.

Talking Writing