Writers on Earth - Writing Competition 2022

Letter — Write to your president or nation’s leader.

Do you feel heartbroken by the staggering decline in wildlife? Distressed by the perils of a warming climate? When it comes to averting environmental catastrophe, we are living through the most consequential decade of our lives. Still, amidst dire projections, environmental scientists tell us with resounding urgency: there is reason for hope. The solutions are available to us, explains the climate scientist Joëlle Gergis, one of the lead authors of 2022’s IPCC Report; “we just need the social movement and political will to create a better world.” 
This is not the first time we have rallied together to tackle a seemingly impossible task. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy posed the ‘Moonshot Challenge,’ with the goal of landing on the moon in a decade. Sixty years later, Prince William’s Earthshot Prize, inspired by Kennedy’s monumental achievement, is designed to “uncover and scale the innovative solutions that will repair our planet within the next ten years.” The Earthshot initiative focuses on five imperatives:  1) Protect and Restore Nature; 2) Clean Our Air; 3) Revive Our Oceans; 4) Build a Waste Free World; 5) Fix Our Climate.
In solidarity with Earthshot, we invite you to pick up the pen. As a young person, you wield a formidable tool to effect change: your voice. Writing a letter to your nation’s president, prime minister, or leader is a powerful step you can take to steer humanity’s course to a better future. In 400 words or less, tell your leaders why their focus on one or more of these five Earthshots is vital to our planet.
Writing Guidelines
400 words! That’s not a lot to work with when it comes to telling your president or prime minister WHY these issues matter. But leaders and legislators are more likely to read a letter if it’s short and to the point. How can you pack in all the important points? Follow the 4 P’s:
  1. PICK AN EARTH SHOT: Of these five imperatives, which do you connect to the most? Which matters to you the most?  Which one stands out as particularly important for your region or country? 
    1. Protect and Restore Nature
    2. Clean Our Air
    3. Revive Our Oceans
    4. Build a Waste Free World
    5. Fix Our Climate.
  2. PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: What example from your life can illustrate why this topic deserves attention?  How does this topic impact you, your family, your community, your future? Try telling an anecdote (brief story) or describing an experience to bring this topic to life. 
  3. PERSPECTIVE: What is your main point? Tell your reader (the leader of your country!) in clear terms why this topic is so important?
  4. PROOF: What research—data, statistics, or studies—can  help support your perspective?  
And Don’t Forget To…
  1. Address your letter to a specific recipient (examples: Dear President Biden, Dear Prime Minister Modi)
  2. State your age early on! Your voice as a young person holds greater sway.
  3. If your letter pertains to a specific project or piece of legislation, tell your leader what it's called. For example, if you're in Australia, writing about the efforts of young people to hold their elected officials accountable, you might reference the noteworthy legal fight playing out around Australia's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. If you're in Nepal, writing about land protection, you could reference the innovative reforestation program that has transformed the Nepalese countryside. Or in the US, you might refer to one of the executive actions President Biden could take to curb climate change. 
  4. Send your letter! Look up the address and send a physical copy in the mail. You also might consider submitting your letter to a local or national newspaper for publication.
    NOTE: It’s important to be cautious when sharing any amount of personal information on the internet. For safety and privacy reasons, the version of the letter that you publish on Write the World should NOT contain: your last name, school name, home address, or any form of contact information (phone number, email address, social media). You MAY include: your first name (or pseudonym), age/grade, city, state, and country. Should you end up sending a copy of the letter to your nation’s leader (which we hope you do!), you can add these personal details back in. 

Who is Eligible?  
Young writers ages 13-19  
400 words or less
Guest Judge
Dan Fagin is an environmental journalist and the director of the Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. He is a former president of the Society of Environmental Journalists and was also the environment writer at Newsday, where he was twice a principal member of reporting teams that were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. In 2014, Fagin was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction for his book Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation, which was described by The New York Times as “a new classic in science reporting.” His next book is about monarch butterflies and the future of biodiversity in the Anthropocene.
  • Best Entry: $100 (Our guest judge’s commentary on the winning piece, and an interview with the author will be featured on Write the World’s blog) 
  • Runner up: $50 (Our guest judge’s commentary on the piece will be featured on Write the World’s blog)
  • Best Peer Review: $50 (Our guest judge’s commentary on the best peer review and an interview with the reviewer will be featured on Write the World’s blog)     
What’s Different about Write the World Competitions? 
  • Prizes: The winning entrant will receive $100, and the runner-up and best peer-reviewer will receive $50.       
  • Professional Recognition: The winning entry, plus the runner-up and best peer review, will be featured on our blog, with commentary from our guest judge.       
  • Expert Review: Submit your draft by Monday, November 28, and get feedback from our team of experts—authors, writing teachers, and educational professionals.   
Key Dates 
  • November 21: Competition Opens  
  • November 28: Submit draft for Expert Review (Optional. We will review the first 50 drafts submitted.)      
  • December 2: Reviews returned to Writers  
  • December 6: Final Submissions Due
  • December 16: Winners Announced  

Is previously published work eligible?
Our monthly competitions are designed to get you writing across a range of genres throughout the year, so we encourage you to  write a new work for each  competition, but we will also accept work that has been previously shared with a small, local audience (for instance, a piece that was published in a school journal).

How to Enter 
  1. If you haven’t yet, sign up for a free account for Write the World as a young writer here.
  2. Hit the “Start Writing” button at the top of the dashboard. 
  3. Draft your entry! Hit “Save” to return to it later. 
  4. The first 50 people to submit a draft will receive an in-depth review from one of our Expert Reviewers—authors, writing teachers, and educational professionals—that you can use to revise your final entry. The “Submit for Expert Review” button will be clickable if slots are still available—click it to have your draft reviewed. (Note: you can still enter the competition if you haven’t received or don’t want to receive an Expert Review!) 
  5. When you are ready to submit your entry, hit the "Submit as Final" button (You can revise, re-publish, and mark any version as your "final submission" until the deadline.)
  6. Only one entry per person, please. 

Writing Guidelines
The power of our writing goes hand in hand with responsibility. Make sure that you’re supporting other people through your writing rather than pulling them down. The types of content that will be removed from the site include, but are not limited to:   
  • Anything that may be deemed hurtful, defamatory or discriminatory in nature.
  • Anything deemed explicit or gratuitously violent.
  • Anything referencing self-harm. 
  • Any commercial posts and/or spam. 
  • Plagiarism (see more at our Writing Guidelines page). 
  • Personal contact information—including usernames on social media or other platforms. This is to protect the privacy of our members.
  • Links to any external websites, with the exception of links to citations as part of an essay, or including links to illustrations or audio as part of a Write the World competition or prompt.
If a writer posts content that violates our terms or goes against our guidelines, we will remove the post and contact the writer when necessary.  Please refer to our Writing Guidelines and site’s terms for further information.

All final submissions will automatically be published on Write the World’s website.

Upcoming Competition
Our Poetry Competition will open on Monday, January 2. Stay tuned for more details!  

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Due Dates
  • Nov 28 - Drafts due for Expert Review

  • Dec 6 - Competition Deadline