Short Written Personal Essays

We’re not asking you to write to a particular theme or to use a specific structure or style; instead, we hope you’ll experiment and tell a tale that matters to you, in a way you enjoy telling it.

Take a look at the full guidelines and related resources below.

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quality=75&auto=webp&disable=upscale"/When you think of The New York Times, you probably think of front-page news, but The Times also has a long tradition of publishing personal essays, and you can find new ones online nearly every day if you know where to look.

Tell us a short, powerful, true story.• Remember: This is not an invitation to give us your opinion on a topic you’re passionate about — we have a contest for that later in the year.

Instead, your challenge is to tell a meaningful and interesting story — something with a beginning, middle and end.As always with a new contest, we expect there will be many questions.Please post them in the comments and we’ll answer you there, or write to us at [email protected] that feature, which ran from 1996 to 2017, and included essays on everything from eating ramen to experiencing an emergency plane landing to wearing a monkey suit to work, we’re looking for “short, powerful stories about meaningful life experiences.” We want to hear story, told in your unique voice.Beyond a caution to write no more than 600 words, our rules are fairly open-ended.It’s all in how you tell it.• Though the word “narrative” might make you think “fiction,” this story should be true. We want your personality to come across.• We also want your writing to be vivid and engaging, so that readers can imagine the scenes you describe, and feel what the narrator is feeling.Tell us about a meaningful event from your real life.• You’ll need to communicate not only what happened, but why it mattered to you. We hope you’ll edit until you’re happy with every word.• Please also remember, however, to keep your audience in mind.Because you’re telling a story rather than, say, simply reflecting on your feelings about a topic, there should be a conflict of some kind — an obstacle, problem or tension — that is resolved in some way.• Keep in mind, however, that story can work.It doesn’t have to be the most dramatic, life-altering thing that ever happened to you; it can, instead, be about baking brownies with your brother, or a conversation you had on Tuesday’s bus ride to school. Write it in your own real voice, with vivid descriptive language.• This is an invitation to open up and write in a way that feels natural.Within an hour of submitting your editorial, you should receive an email from The New York Times with the subject heading “Thank you for your submission to our Personal Narrative Essay Contest.” If you don’t receive the email within an hour, even after checking your spam folder, then you can resubmit your entry. If, after two attempts and waiting over one full day, you still have not received a confirmation email, you can contact us at [email protected] the email address you used in the contest form.Use the subject heading “Please send me an email confirmation for my personal narrative essay contest submission.” Be sure to include your name and essay title (or subject) in your email.

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