Write By The Lake

Write-by-the-lake writer’s workshop and retreat

"By the time the week is done, you’ve learned so much and laughed and grown together so much that you want to keep going. You become driven after a week here."

Jabe Stafford, Lansing, MI [Referring to Angela Rydell’s session]

Help Support the Continuing Studies Writing Programs!


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The 21st Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat is scheduled for June 17-21, 2019

The material you see here is from the 2018 retreat. We’re already planning new workshops, and will post the new lineup in early January 2019. Our retreat features 9:30am-12:30pm class time with optional critique led by professionals.

Plus, reserve your afternoon time to attend workshop “Extras,” included in your fee.

We look forward to seeing you in June!


Join writers from across the country in a professional, friendly, creative atmosphere. For beginning writers & those near publication. Early-bird fee by May 14 is $395 ($445 after) except for Master Classes; UW English credits extra.

The Writer magazine applauds our June retreat!

The September 2017 issue of The Writer magazine features the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat in a colorful two-page spread. The Writer said: “It’s like two semesters of an MFA program. You work so hard and get so much to take home with you.” The article features an extensive interview with Christine DeSmet, director, and instructor of one of the event’s novel Master Classes. Writers from across the country and working in every form of writing attend the program held in June. It offers sections for all levels.

The 20th edition will be held June 11-15, 2018 on the UW-Madison campus. Registrations begin in January, but Master Class applicants can apply any time of year. Thanks to The Writer magazine for its support of this program!

At A Glance

What? 5 days of professional instruction for writers of all levels
When? June 11-15, 2018 • 9:30a-12:30p each day
Who? Taught by leading educators and writers from UW-Madison and across the country
CEUs: Continuing education units available, including optional graduate credits in English. See fees & credits for more information.


Contact Christine DeSmet at christine.desmet@wisc.edu or 608-262-3447

Our Writers Get Published

Sweet Wisdoms (Shanti Arts Publishing of Maine), a nonfiction self-help book by Angeline Haen of Sobieski, Wis., was released in paperback and e-book versions in February of 2017. Angeline worked on her book at the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat with instructor Julie Tallard Johnson. Here’s the blurb: Not all wisdom is siphoned from bitter life experiences; wisdom has a sweet side. For Angeline Haen, wisdom is revealed through a natural curiosity about the mystical messages in our everyday circumstances: a van full of preschoolers, daily walks with Wally, ponderings over split-pea soup, and every pause of wonder in between. This charming and sublime book is an easy, big-hearted read, and it will inspire its readers to recognize and acknowledge the simple sweet wisdoms in their own life experiences.

Says Angeline on dealing with resistance and worry: “Doubt and fear stalled my creative engine. I fell into a sputtered writing pattern of starts and stops. For me, the way to drive through fear’s heavy fog was to shine the bright light of writer’s love on the road ahead. I participated in the retreat…where writers supported the unfolding maps of other writers.

As a writer, you will inevitably turn onto a few bumpy roads. When you do, find people and places that can smooth over the surface. Keep driving the dream and you will never feel like you can’t get where you want to go and for goodness sakes don’t forget to enjoy the ride!”

See more Success Stories from Write-by-the-Lake

Our Writers Can Help You Get Published Too

Write-by-the-Lake alum Jabe Stafford has a new blog post about steps to take to get the writing done despite all of life’s distractions. Check out his post at the website Visit Jabe Stafford’s websiteWrite Plan  . . . then get back to your writing!

Jabe is currently marketing a science fiction novel manuscript and also writes a Visit fantasy science fiction blogfantasy & science fiction blog  that’s a lot of fun.

2018 sections and speakers

A new, expanded array of sessions and topics to choose from plus several new instructors, as well as our back-by-popular-demand returning instructors. See the full list of sessions here

Keynote speaker

Our keynote speaker for 2018 is Laurel Yourke, founder, “Transform Your Writing from First Draft to Deep Revision.”

Guest workshop leader

Chloe Benjamin is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Immortalists, a #1 Indie Next Pick, #1 Library Reads pick, Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection, Amazon Best Book of the Month, and an iBooks Favorite.

Her first novel, The Anatomy of Dreams, received the Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award and was long-listed for the 2014 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize.

Her novels have been translated into over 23 languages. Originally from San Francisco, CA, Chloe is a graduate of Vassar College and has her MFA in fiction from the University of Wisconsin. She lives with her husband in Madison, WI.

You can find her online at chloebenjaminbooks.com.​

NEW Tim Storm’s BONUS for attendees: “Bubble-over Tips and Workshop” 9 am-1 pm, Sat., June 16, Limit: 15

Ever seen one of those cascading champagne towers? The retreat will fill your glass, but sometimes writers at the end of the week need a way to catch the overflow. This session—for anyone eager to unpack the week’s lessons, to put them to practice, and to assemble a plan going forward—will allow you a bit more time among kindred spirits to decompress and get excited about your next steps after your retreat. Includes critiques, sharing of best tips from all section and instructors, and Tim’s follow-up the week after you go home. Fee: $100. Must be enrolled in the June 11-15 retreat before signing up for Saturday.

How it works and what we offer

Choose the one section you’re most interested in. Limit of 15 participants per section unless noted. (Master Class #12 has a limit of 8 participants, Master Class #13 has a limit of 6, and Section #10 Advanced Memoir has a limit of 10.)

Sections for beginning writers as well as those at publication level.

Optional: 1-3 graduate credits in English (offered in a partnership with UW-Madison Dept. of English).

Special low fees for nontraditional credit students. Plus, some grants may be available. See fees & credits page

Meet Your Director

Author and scriptwriter Christine DeSmet teaches writing online and in person. She is the director of the annual June Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat and coordinator of Critique Services for writers.