If you’re a writer, you’ve experienced the heated frenzy of creation, the joyful and/or grueling experience of distilling your ideas and visions into language. Now, how do you turn what you’ve written into art? Being a writer is also about revising, or re-viewing, your work. Several things can assist the process: having blocks of time to focus on writing and nothing else; meeting peers with whom you can share ideas and discuss challenges; finding teachers who can help you to see your work in new ways; and finding readers who can offer not just praise but constructive criticism. The Studio is not just a place, but a writing community in which you and your writing will grow. Every summer, over 130 students from all over the United States and beyond come to the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio to immerse themselves in the writing life and to study fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction with graduates of the world-famous Iowa Writers’ Workshop and other fine graduate writing programs. Writers themselves, our faculty and staff have concrete ideas about how you can make your own writing more successful. If you come to the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio, you’ll see what a huge difference two weeks of intensive focus can bring to your work.
The seminar and workshop are the most important parts of a student’s day, but there’s a lot more to the Studio experience. We walk a careful line between giving our students enough structured events during which to learn from their teachers and counselors and from each other—seminars, workshops, readings, activities—and giving students the free time they need to write. When we’ve got “words down” and it’s time for a break, we have some fun.
Each day begins with Morning Reports, a meeting at which the entire program is assembled (students & staff) and whose purpose is to make sure everyone is up to speed and in sync. We make announcements, alert students to upcoming events, pass out mail, give a weather report, and conduct other Studio business.
After Morning Reports we have Stretch, a group writing exercise led by a faculty member. Stretch isn’t a somber grind; it’s an engaging and entertaining activity, and gets your brain up and running for the writing day.
Every Tuesday and Thursday morning, in place of seminar, you’ll be shuffled into a different group of students for a Mission Inscribable. Missions Inscribable are writing excursions, usually outdoors, field exercises during which you’ll take your writing, and your creativity, out into the streets. You’ll also get a chance to meet students you haven’t spent time with before. This time is designed to help you delve deeper into your creative voice, to take risks, and to work from sources of inspiration you may not have discovered on your own.
Every night we have a reading, which takes place on campus or at Prairie Lights Bookstore downtown, and usually features a prominent published fiction writer, nonfiction writer, or poet. Sometimes we’ll bring in MFA students from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop or a visiting writer from the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. We offer less literary activities in the evening for students who need a break from the life of the mind: games, movies, outings, and impromptu gatherings. And, of course, there’s always time to write.
On the mid-session Saturday we offer “Dunk Tanks” or total immersion elective classes that allow students to explore a form of writing or art off their beaten path. Dunk Tanks in previous years have included screenwriting, songwriting, printmaking, book design, graphic novel, solo performance, blogging, kung fu writing, food writing, poetry/book trailer production, and sweding.
Housing & Meals
Studio participants live in Burge Hall on the University of Iowa’s campus. Burge Hall is a large, comfortable dormitory located on a tree-lined street near the heart of the University’s campus, and features a sprawling main lobby with a café. There are also vending machines and laundry facilities. The residence hall and its surroundings are well lit. Burge’s doors are locked each night and University security officers make regular rounds of each floor. Each student room can be locked from the inside. A Residence Hall Manager is available 24 hours a day. Since the rooms in Burge are doubles, participants are assigned roommates. Students fill out a questionnaire to help the Studio in choosing compatible roommates.
Burge Market Place, located in Burge Hall, is one of the largest University of Iowa dining halls, and offers a wide variety of breakfast, lunch, and dinner items, including continental and hot breakfast, specialty grilled burgers and sandwiches, soups, salads, pizza, breads, and ethnic cuisine. Burge Market Place is also experienced in accommodating special dietary needs (celiac/gluten-free, allergies, vegetarian, etc).