Writers conferences, workshops, and other learning places
Calendars and lists of book fairs, conferences, and festivals
Writers colonies (aka residencies, communities, retreats)
Iowa Writers' Workshop vs. NYC
(MFA programs vs. the hard streets of Manhattan publishing)
All the rest, in alphabetical order
See also Mastering Multimedia (improving your writing, reporting and speaking skills; mastering multimedia; making the most of Word software; Choosing the right equipment, software, tools; and Tech tutorials for computer novices).
• Colonies, Conferences, and Festivals (Poetry Society of America links)
• Conferences, Workshops, and Seminars (AgentQuery's list, with descriptions)
• Convention and Festival Listings (Preditors and Editors)
• International Writer's Calendar (Screenwriters Online)
• List of (and links to) writers' conferences (Wikipedia)
• Major Christian Writers Conferences (Terry Whalin's list)
• Residencies & Colonies (AgentQuery)
• Shaw Guide to Writers Conferences and Workshops
• Top 20 Seminar Scams and How to Avoid Them (Tom Antion, Great Public Speaking 7-23-13)
Directory of Conferences & Centers (a searchable, public, international directory of conferences, centers, festivals, residencies, and retreats, posted by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs)
• Writers' Conferences & Centers (members only, Association of Writers & Writing Programs, AWP)
• Writers conferences, by month (Bowker's list)
• Writing Conferences, Workshops, Retreats, Centers, Residencies & Book & Literary Festivals (NewPages.com, by state). See also Sponsored conferences and New Pages policy on classified (very fair!).
Algonkian novel writing events . Algonkian fiction writers conferences began in 2002 on the banks of the Potomac in northern Virginia.
• FAQs about Algonkian writer conferences
• Harpers Ferry writers conference (small group writer conferences focused on craft and market)
• Santa Barbara Author-Mentor conference
• San Francisco Write to Market Conference
• New York Pitch Conference
• Video of attendees at Algonkian conferences (YouTube video)
Aloha Writers Conference (January in Hawaii!). Check out Lessons from the Aloha Writer's Conference (posted by Toby, 1-24-13). Replaces the "gone but once lavish Maui Writers Conference," writes Paul Wood in Writers, redux! (Maui Magazine, Jan.-Feb. 2013).
American Society of Journalists & Authors (ASJA) conference ( for freelance journalists and book authors). Typically late April, early May--Friday for members only, Saturday and Sunday open to public. Order tapes from ASJA conferences here.
American Christian Fiction Conference
The Art of the Pitch (Alan Rinzler's insider tips for preparing and delivering a winning pitch to an agent or editor at a writer's conference, The Book Deal, 3-29-10)
Association of Personal Historians (APH) conference (for professionals who help noncelebrities tell their life stories).
Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP), an annual conference that draws thousands -- authors, teachers, and people from writing programs, literary centers, and small press publishers
Audit courses at the University of Oxford (listen to podcasts of courses at the oldest university in the English-speaking world, free)
AWP Official Guide to Writing Programs (Association of Writers and Writing Programs)
Backspace Writers Conference (for all fiction genres), supplemented by forums, articles, Stet! a blog of articles and opinions.
Bread Loaf Writers' Conference (held on the Bread Loaf Campus of Middlebury College in Ripton, Vermont). A conference with a long, distinguished reputation-- as reviewed by participant Eugene Cross in What I Learned from Charlie: Inside the Bread Loaf Conference (Hayden's Ferry Review, 2009)
Bread Loaf Orion Environmental Writers’ Conference (an annual, week-long writers’ conference, based on the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference model, and designed to hone the skills of people interested in producing literary writing about the environment and the natural world). Here is Chelsea Biondolillo's conference diary after 1.5 days (Roaming Cowgirl blog, 6-10-14)
CAMPFIRE (Amazon Campfire)
• Local authors fume as Bezos holds secret Santa Fe retreat (Anne Constable, The New Mexican 9-20-14) “'Every year, Jeff Bezos of Amazon invites authors, artists, musicians and other creative people for a secret, swag-laden get together called Campfire,' said Authors United organizer Doug Preston, a writer who lives part time in Santa Fe."
• Neil Gaiman Hints at the Talk Around Jeff Bezos’s Campfire (David Streitfeld, NY Times, 9-21-14)
• A Writerly Chill at Jeff Bezos’ Campfire (David Streitfeld, NY Times, 9-20-14) "Amazon’s acrimonious battle with Hachette, the fourth-largest publisher, is fracturing the secrecy and sapping some of the good will. "
Colonies, Conferences, and Festivals (Poetry Society of America links)
Creative Writing (Andrew Hoffman's creative writing course, University of Utah, course materials free online at this link)
Dean Wesley Smith workshops for fiction writers (with Kristine Kathryn Rusch)
Drupal BarCamp 2010. Listen to sessions in audio, including Josh Ward of Volacci on Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
Dynamite That Heals: A Writing Retreat with Amherst Writers & Artists, by Marian Calabro (the theme: "write it first, fix it later")
The Economist's Ideas Economy conferences (held at different times, in the Americas--press covers to keep abreast about trends that cross bounds of politics, culture and technology). Scroll down for list.
Editorial Freelancers Association courses, for members and nonmembers (editing, copyediting, indexing, structural editing, magazine writing, copyright basics, Adobe Indesign)
eLearning Guild (an online community for the design, development, and management of web-based educational or instructional content — e-Learning)
Excellence in Journalism conference (sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists, Radio Television Digital News Association, and National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Also, SPJ has grant money that allows them to bring training to news outlets and universities in sessions on such topics as mobile newsgathering, writing for the web, social media listening tools, ways to verify sources and stories, using social tools to be a better journalist, video tips and techniques, etc.
Fellowships and Grants (Writers and Editors)
Global Investigative Journalism Network's conference brings together thousands of participants from 100 countries. Member organizations also hold regional conferences, such as the Power Reporting Conference (sponsored by the African Investigative Journalism Conference and WITS University)
sponsored by the Forum for African Investigative Reporters and Wits University in Johannesburg. Sites for the fall GIJN conference have been Copenhagen (2001 and 2003), Amsterdam (2005), Toronto (2007), Lillehammer (2008), Geneva (2010), Kiev (2011) and Rio de Janeiro (October 2013)
Grub Street Seminars and Weekend Workshops (Boston) include a Weekend of Manuscript Consultations (March, $140, with submissions in February) followed by Muse and the Marketplace conference in May. Here's Dell Smith's review from the 2009 M&M conference.
Health Journalism (the annual conference of the Association of Health Care Journalists is one of the best values on this page -- a truly informative conference)
Highlight Foundation Workshops for Children's Writers and Illustrators (seminars, small-group workshops, and one-on-one sessions with some of the most accomplished and prominent authors, illustrators, editors, critics, and publishers in the world of children’s literature)
Historical Novel Society conference . North American branch of the London-based HNS holds a conference for authors and readers of historical fiction every two years--this year June 21-23, 2013, in St. Petersburg, FL.
HP Learning Center: Microsoft Office and Adobe (free online classes, available 24/7; topics include Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint,Digital Photos, etc. Go to www.hp.com/go/learningcenter.
International Women's Writing Guild (IWWG) holds conferences and retreats.
Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE's) training events . IRE offers a powerful conference, where attendees pick up great story ideas, new tools, and make good conndctions. IRE also offers several more specific types of training, from computer-assisted reporting boot camps to focused, multi-day workshops to train investigative reporting techniques. At the Computer-Assisted Reporting (CAR) Boot Camps, for example, you learn to acquire electronic information, use spreadsheets and databases to analyze information and translate that information into stories. Esther Kaplan wrote,, on LinkedIn (in answer to a question about which conferences are worth attending:) "It's guided by an incredible generosity of spirit, where reporters who have done big investigative pieces over the previous year crack open their notebooks and share how they got the story. Each presenter prepares a tip sheet as a takeaway that I promise you will save and refer to often."
See also conferences held by the Global Investigative Journalism Network
• Iowa Writers' Workshop (the granddaddy of them all, a two-year residency program with fiction and poetry workshops, culminating in submission of a creative thesis (a novel, a collection of stories, or a book of poetry) and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA).
• Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Famous for Training Top Writers, Turns 75 (transcript of PBS show, 4-7-11, with Jim Lehrer, Jeffrey Brown, Marcus Burke, Lan Samantha Chang, Allan Gurganus). "...it’s been home to a roll call of literary lights, graduates such as Flannery O’Connor, Wallace Stegner, John Irving, Rita Dove, and last year’s Pulitzer winner for fiction, Paul Harding, teachers including John Cheever, Robert Frost, Robert Penn Warren, and, currently, Pulitzer-winning novelist Marilynne Robinson."
"Thirty-five years ago, there were just 79 writing programs around the country. Today, there are more than 800. And that’s brought new questions: What happens to all those graduates? And what’s the impact on American fiction and poetry?"
• MFA vs NYC: The Two Cultures of American Fiction by Chad Harbach. "In a widely read essay entitled 'MFA vs NYC,' bestselling novelist Chad Harbach (The Art of Fielding) argued that the American literary scene has split into two cultures: New York publishing versus university MFA programs. This book brings together established writers, MFA professors and students, and New York editors, publicists, and agents to talk about these overlapping worlds, and the ways writers make (or fail to make) a living within them. Should you seek an advanced degree, or will workshops smother your style? Do you need to move to New York, or will the high cost of living undo you? What’s worse—having a day job or not having health insurance? How do agents decide what to represent? Will Big Publishing survive? How has the rise of MFA programs affected American fiction? The expert contributors, including George Saunders, Elif Batuman, and Fredric Jameson, consider all these questions and more, with humor and rigor. MFA vs NYC is a must-read for aspiring writers, and for anyone interested in the present and future of American letters."
• The M.F.A. Workshop: From Red Ink to Published Book (Julie Buntin, Publishers Weekly, 8-22-14) What goes on in a creative writing workshop anyway? Some argue that "being read and critiqued by other beginning writers may not be the best way for aspiring authors to hone their craft," but one workshop participant and novelist, Scott Cheshire, says “Contrary to popular belief, if you are really interested in being a writer, then you must be a stellar reader, and this is truly what the M.F.A. is for—to make you a better reader." Buntin also wrote this follow-up: Doctor of Creativity: M.F.A. Update 2014 (PW, 8-22-14) "...the Ph.D. program is slowly and steadily insinuating itself into the academic creative writing marketplace....Now there are enough to warrant their own Poets & Writers ranking—among the top 15 are the Ph.D. programs at Utah, USC, and Florida State."
• Why Writers Love Low-Residency Programs: M.F.A. Update 2014 (Julie Buntin, PW, 8-22-14) An M.F.A. No Matter Where You Are
• MFA Programs, overview (Poets & Writers)
• MFA Programs Database (Poets&Writers)
• The Poets & Writers Guide to MFA Programs
• MFA Programs: What are they and how do they work? (Cynthia Rosi, ASJA blog, 10-15-14) The pros and cons of the two types of MFA programs: low-residency, and on-campus.
• The Low-Residency MFA Handbook: A Guide for Prospective Creative Writing Students by Lori A. May
• M.F.A. 2014 Database (Publishers Weekly)
• The Shifting Culture of American Fiction with Chad Harbach (transcript from Kojo Nnandi Show, 5-22-14). Listen here.
• Creative Writing, via a Workshop or the Big City (Dwight Garner, NY Times book review, 2-25-14) A review of Chad Harbach's book and a survey of its messages.
• “MFA vs NYC”: Both, Probably (Andrew Martin, New Yorker, 3-25-14). An interesting and informative essay about the situation and the book
• Yes, Book Editors Edit (Barry Harbaugh, New Yorker, 3-28-14) "Where do book editors fit in the culture of American fiction? After reading “MFA vs NYC,” the provocative essay collection edited by Chad Harbach and published by the literary magazine n+1, one might be forgiven for thinking that we don’t fit anywhere at all." This piece is "on behalf of a cohort glaringly absent in this otherwise charming collection: those who feel that they hold the power (editors) coming up against those who—despite their talent, resolve, and debt—feel that they don’t (writers)."
• Get a Real Degree (Elif Batuman, London Review of Books, Sept. 2010). An essay and review of the book The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing by Mark McGurl. A well-stated negative view of writing workshops, with sentences like this: "Shame engenders both Carver’s taciturnity and Oates’s graphomania, which is really a compulsion to restage the outcasts contest, doing everyone justice, and constituting a proof that writing, too, is real work."
• Why critics of MFA programs have it wrong (Curtis Sittenfeld, Salon, 10-22-11) The Iowa Writers' Workshop director defends MFAs, laments young stardom and book-world cynicism. He also gives some numbers, and writes "for those of us who work and teach at the program, who see the Workshop as a quirky home for gifted misfits, we’re thrilled when people show signs of promise, but we also know that it takes a long time, sometimes decades, for talent to mature."
It's 2010 — er, 2011! Where's your career heading? (Bevi Chagnon, PubCom, on which training courses you should be getting)
Journalism & Women Symposium (JAWS) has an annual JAWS Camp (Conference and Mentoring Project), which brings together women journalists and journalism educators and researchers to meet in an atmosphere of mutual support, professional growth and a chance to exercise the tongue instead of biting it.
Key West Literary Seminar , a four-day readers’ event that explores a unique literary theme each January. A separate Writers' Workshop program is also held in January.
Leather, Lace and Life Stories Highlight Association of Personal Historians Annual Conference (Pam Vetter, American Chronicle, 10-31-09)
Malice Domestic (May convention saluting the traditional, especially "cozy," mystery, where fans buy books from enthusiastic, often new, writers) and The Usual Suspects (the Malice Domestic newsletter); Malice Domestic awards.
Mastering Multimedia (Writers and Editors)
Links to tutorials on audio, video, images, interviewing--techniques, software, equipment
Narrative nonfiction conferences aka longform journalism aka literary nonfiction conference (Mayborn conference in Texas in July, Power of Narrative conference in Boston in April, The Latest in Longform conference in Berkeley in November, and others). See also reports from and stories about those conferences and earlier ones.
Muse and the Marketplace (two-day Boston literary conference for aspiring writers of fiction and nonfiction, sponsored by Grub Street. For an additional fee, writers can get 20 minutes of feedback on a manuscript from an agent or editor, in the Manuscript Mart.
Napa Valley Writers' Conference (July, Napa Valley, California, poetry and fiction)
New York Times Knowledge Network, online courses, including Creative Writing and Nonfiction Writing. Here's a list of all categories in which classes are taught.
NICAR, IRE, and CAR training . See Investigative Reporters & Editors, above. IRE offers a national conference and several local boot camps on computer-assisted reporting (CAR).
Online Course in Science Journalism (WFSJ and SciDev.Net), created by the World Federation of Science Journalists in close cooperation with the Science and Development Network, for use by professional journalists, journalism students and teachers. The first eight lessons (free for use by anyone in the world):
1) Planning and structuring your work (Jan Lublinkski)
2) Finding and judging science stories (Julie Clayton)
3) The interview (Christina Scott)
4) Writing skills (Nadia El-Awady)
5) What is science? (Gervais Mbarga and Jean-Marc Fleury)
6) Reporting on controversies (KS Jayaraman)
7) Reporting on science policy (Hepeng Jia and Richard Stone)
8) How to shoot science (Šárka Speváková and Carolyn Robinson).
For each course there is an e-lecture, self-teaching questions, assignments, and PDF versions.
Online News Association (ONA) conference and awards banquet (to learn about new tools, techniques, technologies, advances in the field, to network and share best practices.
"It's like Disney World for today's journalists," says Ericka Boston. "There's so much to experience and learn (Intro to Data Visualizations, Mobile Storytelling: The Next Level, SMO Is the New SEO) that it can be a bit overwhelming. But you'll go home reinvigorated, ready for future industry curveballs and thinking, 'That was awesome. I can't wait to do it again!'"
OpenCourseWare (Wikipedia's entry about and listing of courses created by universities and shared freely with the world on the Internet (often partly free). The OCW movement took off with launching of MIT's OpenCourseWare. Check out, for example, MIT OpenCourseWare on Writing and the Humanities (thanks for this link to Chelsea Biondolillo of Transatlantic Enchilada.
Open Culture ("The best free cultural & educational media on the web"--audio books. online courses, MOOCs,
Oxford (Mississippi) Creative Nonfiction Writers’ Conference
Orson Scott Card’s Literary Boot Camp. Mormon James Goldberg's account of his experience at this fiction writing workshop in 2012 makes it sound worth attending, but I see no listing for it in 2013. Two books of interest by Card: Ender's Game (The Ender Quintet) and
Characters & Viewpoint
Pacific Northwest Writers Association summer conference
PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature (100+ writers from 40 nations convene in NYC)
Poynter Training. A top training organization in journalism, with boot camps, self-directed training, etc, on such topics as: Reporting, writing for TV and the Web; Writing for the Ear; Cleaning Your Copy: Grammar, Style, and more; Writing Better Headlines and SEO Essentials; Watching TV News--How to Be a Better Viewer; Beat Basics--introduction to reporting.
Publishing University Online (Independent Book Publishers Association, IBPA, formerly PMA)
Retreats for Writers with an interesting chart on relative cost of retreats, by state and a list of retreat deals (inexpensive retreat cities).
Romance Writers of America (RWA) conference (a gathering of more than 2,100 published and aspiring romance writers, editors, agents, and other industry professionals). Here's one of many stories about this major conference:
'Romance' Is Never a Dirty Word at Romance Writers of America Conference (Monica Hesse, Washington Post, 7-18-09). And here's Once Upon a Romance's list of romance writing workshops, conferences, and writing contests.
San Miguel Writers' Conference (in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico), as described by Nathan Bransford, literary agent.
Santa Fe Science Writing Workshop (one must apply)
Sewanee Writers Conference. In one summer week, a distinguished faculty provides instruction and criticism through workshops and craft lectures in poetry, fiction, and playwriting. Read Brett Foster's account of his experience there.
Sleuth Fest (writer-oriented mystery writing conference in Florida, February)
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) international conferences. See also SCBWI regional events. Read Esther Hershenhorn's Confessions and Secrets of a Veteran SCBWI Conference Goer (or, Do As I Say, Not As I Did). For example: Consider registering (early!) for any of this year's optional Day of Intensives for Writers & Illustrators. Don’t leave home without your manuscripts and sketches! The conference offers informal Peer Critique Groups by Genre Friday and Sunday evenings.
Society of Environmental Journalists conference (reportedly am exceptional conference)
Society of Professional Journalists Conference , which has been recast as the Excellence in Journalism Conference (August, sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists, Radio Television Digital News Association, and National Association of Hispanic Journalists)
Squaw Valley Community of Writers (located in the California Sierra Nevada, close to the north shore of Lake Tahoe)
Story Circle Network online classes
Sun Valley Writers' Conference (a four-day literary house party, a once-a-year community of readers and writers who discuss fiction, nonfiction, journalism, poetry, and filmmaking -- conference pass $850)
Tax Benefits for Education (IRS publication 970)
TED (Technology, Education, Design)
• TED Talks (videos and snippets from the best talks at TED conferences, designed to spread ideas (at $2000 a registration)
• TED (ideas worth spreading, the official site)
• TedEd Series (great audiovisual explanations from the people who brought us TedTalks)
• TED conferences
TOC (O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference--"spreading the knowledge of innovators"). You can download free Best of TOC: Analysis and Ideas About the Future of Publishing
Training and education for editors (KOK Edit's list of places that provide training, from her Copyeditor's Knowledge Base)
Upod Academy is a "semi-secret workshop where freelancers come together to make big ideas happen. Whether the aim is learning the ropes of freelance writing, pushing to the next level or making a major career transition, the PodCad kicks it from crazy daydream to reality." For example: Sharon Lee's talk on "Designing Your Own Success" (webcast, how to be successful doing more of the stuff you love and are good at and less of the stuff you hate and suck at). Listen to more such talks on this page: TED2013 ("The Young. The Wise. The Undiscovered.") Scroll down for links to watch/listen to TED talks on these themes: 1) Process Enigma, 2) Beautiful Enigma, 3) The Spark, 4) Disrupt!, 5) Dream! 6) Create! 7) Sustain! 8) Coded Meaning 9) Indelicate Conversation, 10) Secret Voices, 11) Who Are We? 12) A Ripple Effect?
Wendee Holtcamp's Online Nature Writing Course (Advanced Writing, on Travel, Natural History, and the Environment)
What is the difference between a certificate and certification? (Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society--scroll down for explanation).
Willamette Writers Conference (August, Oregon)
World Writers Festival (Festival des Écrivains du Monde), sponsored by Columbia University (New York)and the Bibliothèque nationale de France. First gathering being held Sept. 20-22, 2013 in Paris, Sept 23-24 in Lyons, France. See distinguished list of authors and speakers , and the fabulous array of venues. You can download the program here (PDF, in French or English).
Writers conference advice (Ginny Wiehardt, About.com, interviews an editorial director at Random House)
• All About Writers Colonies (Nova Ren Suma)
• Alliance of Artists Communities
• Colonies, Conferences, and Festivals (Poetry Society of America links)
• Directory of Writers' Colonies John Hewitt, PoeWar) Names, addresses, and phone numbers--no URLs or email addresses.
• Residencies (Alliance of Artists Communities) "Two weeks in the south of France to edit a book of poetry. Three months in a mill building in Massachusetts to work on a film. A year in the mountains to sculpt. A semester in Taiwan to compose. With 100s of residency programs worldwide, the choice is up to you."
• 6 Insider Tips for Finding and Applying to Writers’ Colonies (Brian Klems, Writer's Digest 1-14-14)
• What I Did at Summer Writers’ Camp (Rachel Donadio, NY Times Book Review, 8-20-08)
• Writers' Residences and Colonies (AgentQuery.com)
• Writers Retreats (Retreats for Writers) with an interesting chart on relative cost of retreats, by state and a list of retreat deals (inexpensive retreat cities).
• Writers' Colonies, directory of (with links)
YA Lit Con (Waterstone Children's Laureate). The first UK Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) took place at the London Film and Comic Con 2014 (LFCC), with the UK's YA publishers providing author events in a dedicated Book Zone,.
Young Adult Literature Symposium (November, sponsored by Young Adult Library Services Association, ALA). Check out YALSA's blog.
Websites, organizations, and other resources
A GREAT READ
BOOK AND MAGAZINE PUBLISHING
WRITERS AND CREATORS
ETHICS, RIGHTS, AND OTHER ISSUES
EDITORS AND EDITING