While pregnant and struggling with her mental health and a creative block, author JoAnna Novak sought solace in the work and life of abstract expressionist painter Agnes Martin, who lived with schizophrenia. In Novak’s memoir, Contradiction Days: An Artist on the Verge of Motherhood (Catapult, 2023), she recounts the experience of moving to Taos, New Mexico, where Martin lived for decades, to model her life after the painter’s hermetic existence, shutting herself off from the world for introspection and writing. Whose work do you go to when seeking a way forward? Research the biography of a favorite artist—including their creative habits and routines—and write an essay that meditates on what makes their life and work inspirational. Try to find the personal and aesthetic lineages that connect you together. For more from Novak, read her installment of our Ten Questions series.
Find details about every creative writing competition—including poetry contests, short story competitions, essay contests, awards for novels, grants for translators, and more—that we’ve published in the Grants & Awards section of Poets & Writers Magazine during the past year. We carefully review the practices and policies of each contest before including it in the Writing Contests database, the most trusted resource for legitimate writing contests available anywhere.