Challenge into Change Writing Contest

Write to heal. Share to inspire.

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Challenge into Change is a writing contest celebrating women's stories of growth and healing. We invite you to submit a piece of writing of 500 words or less about a woman (yourself or someone you know) who overcame a difficult situation in her life. Both prose and poetry are welcome. First-time writers are encouraged to enter!

Winners will receive cash awards; all entrants will have the chance to be published in our Challenge into Change book and will be honored at a ceremony at the 2019 Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville. 

Submission deadline is December 12, 2018.

Submit Your Work

Interested in lending your voice to this community effort? We’re so glad! You can submit your piece of writing (500 words or less), a brief bio (80 words or less), and the Entry Form in the following ways:

  1. Fill out our Online Entry Form

  2. Fax to: (434) 872-0049

  3. Mail to.

    • The Women’s Initiative
      ATTN: Challenge into Change
      1101 E High Street, Suite A
      Charlottesville, VA 22902

  4. Drop off at either of our office locations:

  • 1101 East High Street OR Jefferson School City Center, 233 4th Street NW, Suite W (2nd Floor)

Once we receive your entry, we’ll confirm receipt by phone or email. If you don’t hear from us by December 13, please contact us at or call our office at (434) 872-0047.

One entry per person, please.

Tips for Writing

  1. Find your focus. Write a statement about what you want to talk about (achieved goal). For example:

    • How I started a business

    • How I became educated

    • How I overcame depression

    • How I got out of an abusive relationship

  2. See if you can identify a turning point...sometimes it is gradual. But still there will be a point at which the change is identifiable—when you realized you were not the same.

  3. What kind of change was it? Was it a change in your attitude and understanding or a change in your circumstances or both? (It’s often both.) Who or what made the and friend...a inner strength...a memory...a new

  4. What did your new Self feel like? How is life now different for you?

Do you feel inspired to write a poem? 

  • Find your focus just as you would if you were writing a story.

  • Your poem will probably be much less than 500 words, but you will enjoy finding just the right words to say what you want to say.

  • Poems do not need to rhyme. In fact trying to make a rhyme can sometimes hinder you from saying what you need to say.

  • Create images with words of the person you were, and of the person you have become.

Poems can be thing changes into another just as you have changed. Here’s Charlottesville’s own Rita Dove describing a sunset:

“The sun like a dragon spreading its tail,
Burns the blue air to ribbons”

Perhaps you, too, have felt yourself to be something other than yourself and yet yourself. See if you can find the words and tell us!

Join Our Writing Group

Everyone Has a Story to Tell is our women's writing group, where you can explore writing as a practice in self-care and stress reduction, and get support for putting your Challenge into Change story on the page. Click here to learn more. 

Read Past Winners' Work

All entries will have a chance to be published in the Challenge into Change book. Click on the image of the books to read excerpts of past winners.

 2015-16 Contest

2015-16 Contest

 2016-17 Contest

2016-17 Contest


Call or email us: 434.872.0047 or

Para leer sobre los lineamientos en español del concurso, dé click aquí.