Celebrating 25 years in April 2014!

Thank you to everyone who joined us for the 25th annual Writers' Institute. We are already looking forward to 2015. All information below is from the 2014 event, here for your reference.

The 2014 Writers' Institute is the Midwest's premier writers' conference, filled with 3 days of education, entertainment, and writing inspiration

What began a quarter of a century ago has always been an informative and fun event providing aspiring, emerging, and established writers with up-to-date information about their craft, the publishing industry, and current trends in writing—as well as being a great place to network with fellow writers.

Writers' Institute was recently featured in a Doug Moe article in the Wisconsin State Journal. Moe's look into the beginnings of the conference and the characters that stole the show is a fitting tribute to 25 years of writing inspiration.

At a glance

What: 25th Annual Writers' Institute

When & where: Fri-Sun, April 4-6, 2014, The Madison Concourse Hotel

Cost: Varies. Please see the general information page for more information.


Questions? Contact Laurie Scheer at lscheer@dcs.wisc.edu or (608) 265-3972

Conference director Laurie Scheer talks about many of the great things you can expect at this year's Writers' Institute.

Our history

In 1990 Christine DeSmet, program director, and Marshall Cook, journalism professor, started a yearly writers' conference on the UW-Madison campus through the Continuing Studies Division that featured the late Elmore Leonard as the keynote speaker. The 2-day conference—one day featuring fiction topics, the next day featuring nonfiction topics—was advertised as "The adventure of writing for fun, for a living!"

In 1997 Laurel Yourke, faculty writing professor, joined Christine and Marshall and in these past 25 years, distinguished authors and instructors such as George V. Higgins, Delle Chatman, Carol Higgins Clark, Lee Gutkind, Jerry Apps, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Donald Maass, Dara Marks, and John Vorhaus, to name just a few, have shared their knowledge of writing with our writing community.


I'm Laurie Scheer, the UW-Madison Writers' Institute director, and I'm here to say that it is an honor to continue to carry the torch that Christine, Marshall, and Laurel started. This year's conference continues onward to celebrate the energy that began in 1990. Join us for our 25th celebration featuring some of the finest authors, instructors, and agents, who grace us with their work locally and nationally. Beginner or advanced, fiction or nonfiction, you have 3 days to mingle with other writers, agents, editors, and publishers to talk about what matters—your writing and the writing life.

The 2014 Writers' Institute is surely the Midwest's premiere writers' conference, and here's why:

New this year:

  • Larger, improved conference rooms at Madison Concourse Hotel
  • The sophomore issue of the Midwest Prairie Review journal
  • Four keynote sessions featuring Michael Perry, Nathan Bransford, Dale Kushner and Jane Friedman
  • Fireside Chats with award-winning instructors
  • An entire Do-It-Yourself track for authors who want to self-publish
  • A celebration of local booksellers

Tried & true:

  • Agent pitches, workshops, instructors, networking, practice pitch sessions, critiques, book signing event, one-on-one meetings with experts, and our success panel luncheon


  • Free Thursday night practice pitch session to those who sign up to attend all 3 days of the event

We here at the Writing Department of Continuing Studies reach out to our community on a daily basis. The Writers' Institute is just one of many programs we offer to our nearby, national, and international writers, and this year's conference is a special celebratory event. We are not only celebrating 25 years of writing, but 25 years of being part of the best writing community in the Midwest. We hope you'll join us and be part of this community if you haven't already.

Join our mailing list to receive information about our programs. And be the first to hear about all writing programs by subscribing to The Writing News by sending a blank email to join-writing-news@lists.wisc.edu.

We invite all writers to join us—the new, aspiring writer as well as the established writer. Writers of poetry, novels, nonfiction books, scripts, blogs, and freelancers aching to mine the Internet for dollars—we have something for each of you. If you have questions about any of the conference events, email or call me at any time at lscheer@dcs.wisc.edu or (608) 265-3972.

I look forward to meeting all of you and working toward some new and exciting writing horizons as we look towards the next 25 years of writing excellence!

Onward, Laurie Scheer