The Midwest’s Premiere Writing Event

Welcome writers! The UW-Madison Writers’ Institute is now in its 29th year.

This is it. This is the big newly extended weekend as we begin sessions on Thursday afternoon and run through Sunday afternoon this year. We look forward to another conference experience chocked full of information with much more emphasis on the publishing industry – both traditional and self-publishing – this year.

In April of 2017, Michael Popke of the Madison Isthmus, wrote a wonderful article describing the Writers’ Institute experience outlining the joys of writing, the anticipation of pitching to agents, and the wonderment found when networking with other writers. Read that article here >>.

Because of that celebrated article, we heard from quite a few of our writers – and the community at large. Writers’ Institute has truly established itself as the Midwest’s premier writing conference. In addition, we listened to your suggestions of how to improve this event from year to year. We know that writing and publishing books are the main writing goals of most writers, and to address these main goals, we are offering HOW TO WRITE and HOW TO PUBLISH tracks for you to follow to enhance your conference experience this year. Additionally, we hope you will want to continue your conference experience and join us in a new learning track after the conference entitled Pathway to Publication.

As the director of the Writers’ Institute, I hope you will find the new additions to our conference, along with our tried and true events to be beneficial to you and your writing goals. Please peruse this website for the details of all of these events.

New This Year:

Traditional vs. Self-Publishing

Throughout the last 29 years of the conference, writers have for the most part succeeded with their goals of being published through the traditional path of pitching to and working with an agent and then securing a publisher for their books. In the past five to ten years, we have seen a shift in the many publishing options that are available to writers. It is now possible to also self-publish your books and many of our writers have celebrated their successes in this arena.

Therefore, this year’s conference will feature a Pathway to Publication Keynote Panel on Saturday morning. Representatives from both a traditional agency and self-publishing companies will be on hand to walk us through the advantages – and disadvantages – of each type of publishing path. You will walk away armed with much more knowledge about your book’s future – do not miss this exciting Keynote event.


Pathway to Publication

Take advantage of our EXCLUSIVE publishing opportunity for attendees of the 2018 Writers’ Institute.
In 2019, Writer’s Institute celebrates its 30th year and we want writers to celebrate with us.

Register now; this program is open to 30 exclusive writers.

We are looking for 30 writers who want to work with our writing coaches every 30 days as we celebrate Writers’ Institute 30th Anniversary Celebration.

We are offering an exclusive program for attendees of the 2018 Writers’ Institute entitled PATHWAY TO PUBLICATION. This opportunity is available as a 6-month or one-year program. There are two prerequisites; the first is that you attend the 2018 Writers’ Institute, April 12-15th, 2018, and the second is that you have a strong will and desire to complete, edit, and polish your manuscript and prepare the selling materials for the publishing marketplace.

Those who take advantage of these pledges and plans of action will be part of our PATHWAY TO PUBLICATION SUCCESS PANEL at the 2019 Writers’ Institute.

We want to celebrate our 30 writers, do not miss out, and sign up today.

This special panel features those who have successfully completed their publishing pathway. The tried and true Writers’ Institute Success Panel is a separate panel.

Learn more >>


Start Fast on Your Path

This year we are opening our conference on Thursday afternoon with four outstanding sessions beginning at 2:00PM. Registration will be open from 1:30PM to 7:30PM that day also. Expand your learning during our expanded conference hours.


New to the Conference?

New this year, Writers’ Institute director Laurie Scheer will present What to Expect at A Writing Conference – Introduction to Writers’ Institute, Thursday afternoon beginning at 4:10PM.

For those who are new to attending a writing conference – and for those who have joined us previously – Writers’ Institute director Laurie Scheer walks you through the overall general logistics of the complete four-day event. Included is a run-down of the conference schedule, the sessions and tracks, the hotel layout, pitching procedures and more… Questions are welcomed and encouraged. Be there to be sure your 2018 Writers’ Institute experience is the best that it can be.


A Madison Public Library System Special Presentation

Join us on Thursday from 5:30-6:30PM with Community Engagement Librarians Kylee Stoor and Laura Damon-Moore as they present HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR BEST FREE RESOURCE: YOUR PUBLIC LIBRARY.


Paperless Conference

You will receive your PDF of the conference the week of April 9th. Please be sure to make copies or download the conference handouts before attending the event. You will receive information about your schedule, session room location information, and conference sponsorship opportunities when you register, but know that we are saving a nice number of trees by offering our conference handouts via a PDF version. Please make copies or download the PDF information before the conference. NO COPIES OF THE HAND-OUTS WILL BE AVAILABLE ON SITE AT THE CONFERENCE.

Returning This Year:

Master Classes at the Conference

This year we are offering Master Classes with two of our Writing Department Continuing Studies Faculty, Christine DeSmet and Christopher Chambers. These workshops are limited to 12 writers. The cost is $65.00.
Do not miss this opportunity to write with these incredibly talented writers.


Poem or Page Luncheon

Join us on Saturday at the beginning of our networking lunch when winners of our Poem or Page Contest are announced. First place winners of our Poem or Page Contest will be published in the 2019 issue of The Midwest Review Journal.


The Third Annual Live Literary Event happens on Saturday


The Fourth Annual Writing Mixer event happens on Friday

–meet your fellow writers, speakers and agents in an informal setting

Meet with the Writing Doctor and Check In about your Writing

Back by acclaimed popular demand, Dr. Kevin Mullen has scheduled office hours and will meet with you for a 30 minute consultation about your writing. Do you have questions about your characters? Are you unsure of your plot? Are you thinking of moving to another genre? Are you wondering if you are ready to pitch your work to agents? Dr. Mullen offers advice for all writers and their questions – all types of questions – about their work. Don’t miss your appointment with The Writing Doctor. Register today.


Advanced Manuscript Critiques

–take advantage of these opportunities to work
one-on-one with instructors specializing in fiction, nonfiction, book proposals, memoir and other genres.


Remember that First Place winning Poem or Page Contest submissions will be included within the 2019 issue of The Midwest Review Journal.

Not only will you receive accolades and prizes for this contest, you will also be published in our journal so do not hesitate to submit your work!

The sixth edition of the Midwest Review journal premieres at the conference.

Tried & True:

Agent pitches, workshops, book-signing event, networking, practice pitch sessions, critiques, and our success panel and Meet the Agents panel.

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. We are not only celebrating 29 years of writing, but also 29 years of being part of the best writing community in the Midwest. We hope you will join us and be part of this community if you have not already.

Join our mailing list to receive information about our programs.

We invite all writers to experience our conference – 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 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 29+ years of writing excellence!

Laurie Scheer