My Real Life Story Essay Contest 2014

To enter the Listen to a Life Contest, a young person 8-18 years old interviews an older person over 50 years (cannot be a parent; may be a grandparent, older friend, mentor, neighbor, assisted living or long-term care resident, etc.) The young person then writes a 300-word essay (maximum) based on the interview.

Get ready by doing a little reading…

Check the contest rules. You can also read Why Enter?

Read past winning stories to see how to craft an appropriate essay. The judging committee isn't looking for a laundry list of dates and life facts. Rather, they're looking for an evocative, creative story that captures the essence of a person's life, or a critical moment or experience.

Finally, young and old can read and discuss the award-winning book Dream: A Tale of Wonder, Wisdom & Wishes, by Susan V. Bosak. A multilayered story told by a wise old star, it's about hopes and dreams across a lifetime, in the past and into the future. We even have intergenerational activities you can do. The book sets the stage for a great interview.

Do your interview by listening to a grandparent/grandfriend's life story. Learn about their hopes and goals through their life, how they achieved goals and overcame obstacles, or how dreams may have changed along the way. As you're listening, focus in on a significant life experience – it may be big or small, but it has to mean something to the person being interviewed. What life advice can the older person share? The judges are looking for an evocative, creative story that captures the essence of a person's life, or a critical moment or experience.


To help with your interview, we have Life Interview Tips and sample Life Interview Questions (you don't have to use the questions; they're designed to give you ideas and inspiration).

WARNING: Entries MUST be based on an actual interview the young person completes in person, over the phone, or via the Internet with a living older adult. An entry cannot be based on a story the young person has been told by another person or has overheard. It must also be a true, real-life story, not creative fiction. Failure to follow these rules will result in immediate disqualification. Please read all the contest rules.

Now you're ready to write your story – 300 words maximum. Remember, the judging committee isn't looking for the person's whole life story (which is impossible to do in 300 words), but an essay that captures a theme, moment, or experience that's important in the older person's life.

No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. One entry per team (i.e. young person and grandparent or grandfriend). Entries must be 300 words or less, be a true story about an older person's life, and will be judged by a committee based on the following criteria: 1/3 writing quality, including creative presentation; 1/3 content depth and evocativeness; 1/3 appropriateness to theme, particularly the ability to capture a timeless idea, insight, or theme (big or small) based on real-life experience.

You can submit your completed entry online or by mail/fax. Only receipt of online entries can be acknowledged. Contest closes March 23, 2018.

Enter Glamour’s My Real-Life, Story Essay Contest 2012

Yes, Glamour Magazine is seeking your essays for their annual writing contest. The winner wins big with a $5,000.00 cash prize, the possibility of publication, and a possible meeting with a literary agent. Not too shabby. The contest is running from July 1, 2012 to November 31, 2012. See rules for details for online and mail-in entries.

Update: Check out the 2014 Glamour Magazine Real-life Essay contest here. – ed.

What will Jane Smiley and other Glamour essay judges want to see?

Every woman has an inspiring true story somewhere inside her—and we want to hear yours. Is it about the time you overcame an obstacle, tested your courage, met the love of your life, or found your passion? Start writing it now!

A panel of authors—among them Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley—will help choose the winner. Our judges will be looking for strong writing, original style and a compelling story.

Glamour Essay Contest Writing Requirements

Be sure you read all the rules provided by Glamour before you start, but here are the nonfiction essay writing essentials that you will need to do.

  • Manuscript word count: Minimum 2,500 words and a maximum of 3,500 words.
  • Manuscript should be typed and double-spaced.
  • Manuscript should be formatted as a Word document.
  • Story must be true.
  • Written essay must be your original work.
  • Essay must not contain any “defamatory, obscene or otherwise unlawful matter or depict anyone engaged in any illegal, immoral or lewd act, any violent or pornographic material or contain any other inappropriate content.”
  • One entry per person and one entry per e-mail address.
  • Contest is free.
  • You must be 18 years old or older.
  • All submissions become the property of Glamour and will not be returned.

Read previous Glamour nonfiction essay winning entries

Angie Kim

It’s often good to read past winning entries so you can get a feel for the style, tone, and mood of winning entries. Here are three recent winners.

“If My Bullies Could See Me Now!” – Imagine starting junior high (that land of smelly boys and mean girls) barely knowing English. Laugh along as writer and winner of Glamour’s eighth annual essay contest winner Angie Kim gets her revenge.

Andrea Coller

“I Want My Life Back” – How does a sarcastic, tattooed, music-obsessed, Tic Tac-popping, vodka-drinking 27-year-old feel when her cancer comes back for the third time? Angry–and determined to come out alive.

“I Drank and Drank, and Then One Day I Stopped” – For Adrienne Edenburn-MacQueen, now 25, alcohol was an escape, a party—until it wasn’t. Blackouts, lost weekends and a DUI took their toll, and suddenly she had to make a choice

More on the Glamour nonfiction essay contest

You have a couple of options for submission, so make sure you read all the rules.

Don’t forget: Contests are known for being sticklers when it comes to following their rules. Good luck and let me know if you will be entering or share your thoughts on this contest and others below.


Join The Classics Club. My 5 year 50+ booklist is here: The Classics Club project. Short story lovers, check out The Short Stories Challenge.

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  • IMAGE & AFFILIATE CREDITS: Magazine cover and Glamour pink button via affiliate program; Glamour publicity photos of winners via Glamour magazine

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