Brava magazine: Laurie Scheer nurtures authors at the Writers’ Institute

Laurie Scheer is usually the writer or writing instructor, but the tables recently turned when Brava magazine showcased Scheer’s talent and tutelage in their February 2019 issue.

Scheer directs the University of Wisconsin–Madison Writers’ Institute, taking place this year April 4-7 at the Madison Concourse Hotel.

Writers' Institute Director Laurie Scheer
Director Laurie Scheer inspires and encourages writers.

Continuing Studies writing faculty associate Christine DeSmet told Brava that Scheer has taken the conference into the national realm.

“She’s expanded everything about it, adding workshops, practice pitches, one-on-one meetings, master classes, the open mic opportunity and book fair. People come back every year because they know Laurie’s got something new again and they don’t want to miss it.”

The 30th annual Writers’ Institute will feature presentations by authors, literary agents, and UW–Madison faculty, who’ll provide practical tips for writers of mystery, romance, memoir, history, and true crime, among other genres. Attendees have the unique opportunity to pitch their manuscripts to industry professionals, who attend the conference to find new authors and to help attendees sharpen their skills.

Brava noted that Scheer stays plugged in to writing and publishing trends, and incorporates the information into the annual conference.

The Writers’ Institute boasts many success stories. Brava mentioned mystery writer Nick Chiarkas, self-help book author Laurie Buchanan, conservation writer Heather Shumaker, and novelist and humor writer Ann Garvin, who all attended the conference on their path to publication. Chiarkas, Shumaker, and Garvin are speaking at this year’s event.

Helping writers realize their goals

Aside from directing the Writers’ Institute, Scheer mentors up to 30 nonfiction writers at a time through the writing program at UW–Madison Continuing Studies.

“The toughest part of being a mentor is working with talented individuals whose self-confidence sometimes stands in their way,” Scheer told Brava. “The good part about being a mentor is working with any writer who does understand that they have something.”

DeSmet praised Scheer’s ability to help writers believe in themselves. “It’s tough to share material with editors, agents, publishers, and readers and reviewers who are judging your writing. It can feel like you’re being judged personally. Laurie is sympathetic to those feelings and she always dives in with a writer to develop a plan.”

Scheer shares with students her experiences, offers encouragement, and helps open doors so people can realize their writing goals.

‘Do I have a book in me?’

Brava noted that Scheer’s also been a television producer, vice president of programming, professional speaker, instructor, and, in her own words, media goddess. She’s authored Creative Careers in Hollywood and The Writer’s Advantage: A Toolkit for Mastering Your Genre.

Scheer gave Brava the following advice for writers: “If you think you want to write, write. There’s a lot of people that have the questions, ‘Do I have a book in me, do I have a memoir in me, do I have a short story in me, do I have a poem in me?’ Just that thought of ‘I think I might like to be a writer’ is a good place to start.”

For information on the Writers’ Institute, go to the conference website, or contact Scheer at 608-265-3972 or laurie.scheer@wisc.edu.