Waterston Desert Writing Prize 2024 (Up to $3,000 Cash Award) | Apply Now

The Waterston Desert Writing Prize, established in 2014, was inspired by Ellen Waterston’s deep affinity for the High Desert, which has been a constant source of inspiration for her for over four decades. This prestigious Prize aims to support writers who share a similar connection to the desert and recognize the importance of deserts in global ecosystems and human stories.

Waterston Desert Writing Prize 2024
Waterston Desert Writing Prize 2024

In honor of the Prize’s tenth anniversary, the guest judge for 2024 will be Sam Waterston, an esteemed actor and producer who generously contributed to the original endowment that established the Prize. The keynote speaker for the ceremony will be Tucker Malarkey, a bestselling author known for her latest book, “Stronghold: One Man’s Quest to Save the World’s Wild Salmon,” a captivating account of a conservationist’s efforts to protect the remaining wild salmon population worldwide.


  • The Prize for 2024 includes a cash award of $3,000 for the winner.
  • The winner will have the opportunity to participate in a reading and reception held at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon on September 26, 2024.

Eligibility Criteria

Criteria for the award include:

  • Nonfiction writers who demonstrate artistic excellence, a deep connection to the desert as a subject and setting, and a strong focus on desert literacy.
  • The award is designed to assist literary nonfiction writers who are in the process of completing, proposing, or considering the development of a book-length manuscript.
  • It is advised that the writing sample submitted for consideration should be related to the proposed project or closely reflect its content and style.

How to Apply

Step 1: Complete the online application form on Submittable. The form will be accessible after January 2nd, 2024. Include your name, address, and email only in this form.

Step 2: Upload a combined Word (.doc or .docx) or PDF file. Merge the three sections of the application described below into a single document and avoid including your name or any identifying details on any page.

  • Biographical Statement: A one-page document with double spacing, 12-point font, and one-inch margins.
  • Avoid disclosing your identity in this information.
  • Do not submit a resumé or curriculum vitae.
  • Provide a concise summary of:
  • Details of your educational, professional, publication, and writing experience.
  • How receiving the Waterston Desert Writing Prize will benefit your work.
  • Your commitment to making a significant contribution to the body of desert literature.
  • Proposal Title and Description: One double-spaced page in 12-point type and one-inch margins. The description should include:
  • Proposal title.
  • A brief overview of the project
  • Desert locations involved in the project’s research.
  • A concise explanation of how the project will contribute to desert literature and expand knowledge of the deserts.

Note: It is not mandatory to provide a budget.

  • Writing samples must be no longer than 10 double-spaced pages, with 12-point type and one-inch margins.
  • Writing samples from other genres like poetry, fiction, or juvenile literature will not be considered.
  • Writing samples can be unpublished drafts or published material.
  • You must be the only author of the work and have complete ownership.
  • Additional materials not requested in the guidelines will not be reviewed.

Step 3: involves submitting materials for your application. You must use Submittable to send in your application. Keep in mind that incomplete or late applications will not be taken into consideration. The deadline for submission is Wednesday, May 1, 2024, at 11:59 pm.

For more information please visit the official website of Waterston Desert Writing Prize.

Application Deadline

May 1, 2024.



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