“10 Literary Organizations Promoting Writing Centers, Classes, and Community”
by Joe Walters and Jaylynn Korrell
Whether you’re a beginning writer or a prolific author, you know the struggle. You sit at your desk, pound away at the keys, rip your hair out a little, and do everything you can to make your words shine. But sometimes, you just kind of have to get your work out there to keep motivated.
Lucky for you, you’ve got some options. You can go to local Meetup groups of writers, pop into a craft talk at your nearby university, or you could even grab some feedback from experienced writers and readers. But in the end, there’s nothing quite like hearing critiques and conversations about your work in person.
There are literary organizations all across America (and most likely pretty close to your hometown) that offer creative writing classes and community without asking you to spend thousands on MFA programs.
This list is comprised of ten different cities and nine different states to make it a little easier for all of you across the country to find the literary organizations near you that offer writing classes, author readings, free write-ins, open mics, and more.
Even if you’re just visiting one of these areas, they’ve also got workshops and events for one-day and weekend crash courses, meaning you can give yourself a little gift by stopping in and talking writing with some amazing literary people. Or just sign up for an online course with them!
Without further ado, here is our list of “10 Literary Organizations Promoting Writing Centers, Classes, and Community.”
1. Grubstreet (Boston, MA)
We start with GrubStreet for a reason. Not only are we starting on the east coast and traveling across, but Grub is also one of the leading literary organizations in the country. Founded in 1997, GrubStreet now “offers over six hundred classes and events a year for writers of all genres and ambitions.” They offer both one-day and multiple-week classes in Boston, just outside of Boston, and online.
In addition to their courses like “Novel/Memoir in Progress” and “Sci-Fi and Fantasy Workshop,” they host free Happy Hour Writing Sessions to bring writers together, and they also organize an incredible annual writers’ conference called Muse & the Marketplace. This three day conference provides craft talks (“Muse”) as well as lead sessions from industry professionals on the business side (“Marketplace”) like literary agents, editors, and publicists. Talk about covering all you’re looking for!
2. Poets House (NYC, NY)
“Poets House is a national poetry library and literary center that invites poets and the public to step into the living tradition of poetry.” They were founded in 1985, and they’ve been helping poets and creative writers in the NYC area ever since. They offer six-week workshops, shorter masterclasses, and one-day workshops.
For those who might be visiting New York, keep an eye on their event schedule for author readings, craft talks, and “epic voices,” a series which sparks conversation about the magic of specific poems and poets. And if you’re in the area during The Poetry Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge or the Poets House Showcase, you’ve definitely got to stop by. They both sound magnificent.
3. The Writer’s Center (Bethesda, MD)
“The Writer’s Center empowers writers and those who aspire to write through workshops, events, and creative collaboration.” Now over 40 years old, this literary organization offers online, one-day, and multiple-week classes and workshops for the D.C. area and beyond.
Whether you’re looking to improve your craft with online courses or if you’re in the area looking to get involved, The Writer’s Center has plenty of options for you. Open mic nights, graduate readings, First Novel Prize, and more. And it doesn’t hurt that their center looks absolutely incredible either!
4. Indiana Writers Center (Indianapolis, IN)
The Indiana Writers Center has been hard at work since 1979 “to foster a vibrant writing community in Indiana, providing education and enrichment opportunities for both beginning and accomplished writers.” They offer both one day and multiple-week courses like “Write Your First Novel (and Second),” “Poetry Writing Workshop,” and more genre-specific gems.
I love the idea behind their “Springtime Scribes Online Writing Club,” where writers get together via Zoom and write together, keeping each other motivated and accountable. Sounds like a perfect opportunity to connect with like-minded people and improve in the process. They also have some incredibly affordable IWC Critique Groups: free for members and $5 per non-members. Worth a shot!
5. The Loft (Minneapolis, MN)
Ah, The Loft! This Minneapolis literary organization continues to be one of the best in the country. Founded in 1975, this hardworking group offers all the classes/workshops you can ask for—and in each format! Adult classes, youth classes, online classes, one day workshops, and multiple-week courses.
The Loft has an array of activities for the visiting writer to take advantage of. The Loft Mentor Series holds six readings and craft talks by emerging writer fellows and their nationally acclaimed mentors. Sounds like a great excuse to hear Danez Smith and Carmen Maria Machado work their magic. But don’t forget about their conferences, too! Wordplay (for writers & readers) and Wordsmith (for writers) sound like great excuses to get away from your desk and get together.
6. Lighthouse Writers Workshop (Denver, CO)
Denver is a creative writing haven thanks to the Lighthouse Writers Workshop! Since 1997 they’ve been offering an assortment of helpful courses like the upcoming “Plot Structure Clinic–The Hero/Antihero’s Journey.” They offer online courses, one day workshops, weekend courses, and eight-week courses.
Another cool thing that they offer is called The Book Project, a two-year program for writers of book-length manuscripts. You’re set up with a published mentor, and you go through intensives and retreats with the other people enrolled in the program. At the end of it, the in-house publishing marketer helps you to take the next steps in getting your novel published. Talk about thorough. Oh, and don’t forget about Lit Fest!
7. The Writing Salon (San Francisco, CA)
The Writing Salon has been a home for writers in the Bay Area since 1999. They offer a slew of one day intensives, multiple-week workshops, and online courses to help improve your craft.
Their Round Robin Generative Writing Class is an online course dedicated to getting you writing. It’s a fun exercise of receiving prompts each Sunday for three, six, or eight weeks and it offers rotating writing partners to get fresh eyes and outside perspective. Might as well check out the Jane Underwood Poetry Prize while you’re at it, too!
8. San Diego Writers, Ink(San Diego, CA)
“San Diego Writers, Ink is a 501©(3) nonprofit organization. [They] offer classes, groups, workshops, readings and other literary events at The Ink Spot and other locations throughout San Diego County.”
San Diego Writer’s, Ink has the best of both worlds when it comes to the local author or the visiting author. With events like open mic nights and Sunday Craft, you’re sure to meet up with a community whenever you need to. They’ve got a Room to Write program, too, for those looking to get writing done around your peers.
9. Literary Arts (Portland, OR)
Based in Portland, OR and just a couple blocks away from Powells Books, Literary Arts has been supporting readers and writers for 35 years. They offer one-day courses, weekend crash courses, and multiple week courses, and they are often taught by Oregon Book Award authors. Classes include Short Story Intensives, Poetic Personal Essays, and Prose Revision Workshops, just to name a few.
If you’re a visiting writer or reader, they also provide a Portland Arts & Lectures series that brings prominent authors to venues like the spectacular Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, which has a capacity of 2,700 seats to talk about everything from their art to cultural issues. On top of that, they host a radio show and podcast called The Archive Project. This free program provides an online archive of recorded author lectures that are available to the public. Portland Book Festival sounds wonderful, too!
10. Hugo House (Seattle, WA)
Founded in 1996, “Hugo House is a place for writers, with a concentrated focus on helping anyone who wants to write. [They] offer readings, classes, book launches, workshops, teen programs, consultations with professional writers, and much more.”
Hugo House has plenty of options for the writer and reader of all interest levels, whether they’re looking to engage, join the community, or steal away for a day with the Hugo Literary Series or WordWorks: Writers on Writing. If you’re looking to finally get your book finished, they’ve also got a Book Lab program that is worth checking out as well.
And that’s all we’ve got for you! Now dust off that Fedora and feather pen. It’s time to get writing, together.
About the Authors
Joe Walters is the founder of Independent Book Review. When he’s not doing editorial, reviewing, or promoting work at IBR, he’s working on his novel and trusting the process.
Jaylynn Korrell is a nomadic writer currently based in Pennsylvania. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @JaylynnKorrell.
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