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 to get a sense of the magazine's style and TW's eclectic mix of journalism and literature.
  • Theme Essays and Features: Each issue of Talking Writing has a theme—such as "Borders" or "Writing and Faith." When submissions are open for a theme, entry details will appear in the listings below. 
  • Annual Poetry Spotlight: Every year, TW's spring issue highlights a specific theme, 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 
How do you tackle life's Big Questions? We've opened up submissions for personal essays, visual art, hybrid poetry, and first-person journalism on a rolling basis for this popular TW theme. Writers and artists are welcome to explore a wide range of issues—mortality, belief, culture of origin, atheism—as part of a personal meditation about soul searching through words. No theological tracts, parables, or fiction, please.

  • Personal essays and journalism: 800 to 1,200 words.
  • Poetry: up to three poems, but no more than five pages total.
  • Art and photography: three to five images.
Whether you're submitting first-person journalism or hybrid poetry, be sure to verify all factually based information, attribute all direct quotes, and provide your sources.
Ends on September 9, 2019$3.00

We're looking for short personal essays or first-person features that grapple with transitions of all kinds: from one stage of life to the next; across artistic genres; in work and daily life; in belief; in the natural world, cities, or neighborhoods. We'll consider a mix of visual art and text on this theme as well, but no political diatribes, life hacks, or lyrical experiments. Feel free to query us first about the subject for your essay or feature. 

Word count: 500 to 1,500.

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.

A big part of TW's nonprofit mission is to promote first-person journalism—nonfiction work that melds journalistic rigor with the kind of personal voice usually associated with literary memoir. The challenge is to let readers know who your "I" is while also referring to factual information and clearly attributing all your sources.

For this category, we're looking for directly observed first-person reports on the world around you. Whether it's a verbal snapshot of your neighborhood, a larger event, a specific cultural site, or the natural world, we invite you to record, accurately convey, and interpret what you observe. Feel free to query us first about your report. Word count: 500 to 1,500 words.

The journalism part: Please verify all factually based information, attribute all direct quotes, and provide your sources.

TW publishes short essays that address the essential question for writers: Why write? Word count: 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 publishes first-person journalism—features told from the first-person POV of varying lengths, many of which are think pieces about books, movies, well-known authors, literary and cultural trends, or teaching writing. While we publish very few straightforward book reviews in the magazine, we're interested in the personal connections that readers (and writers) make to books and authors.

Such features often fall under the "Reader's Life" or "Writer's Life," but they may address other topics, too, especially if they're related to one of our issue themes. In general, we ask that your approach be personal, passionate, and factually accurate. Please avoid an overly academic tone.

A nonfiction note: Be sure to 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