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Creative Writing Opportunities in Arkansas

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How many times have you heard people say, “I’d really like to write a book.” How many times have you thought about it? Arkansas hosts plenty of opportunities around the state to delve into creative writing, whether you’re new to writing or looking to hone your craft as an author. Check out the range of experiences offered throughout Arkansas in 2020.

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Programs

Photo Courtesy: UCA Flicker

Not everyone is looking for this level of intensity or a writing degree, but for those who want a master’s in Fine Arts in Creative Writing, Arkansas has several excellent programs to consider.

University of Arkansas – The University of Arkansas’s MFA in Creative Writing and Translation Program is nationally recognized as one of the oldest in the nation. Established in 1966, the program has degrees in writing, poetry and translation, with students examining literature and techniques in writing.

University of Central Arkansas – The MFA in Creative Writing offers a three-year program focused on pedagogy and publishing. Graduates have pursued careers at universities and libraries and published in national journals and presses.

University of Arkansas at Monticello – The MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Arkansas – Monticello is a non-residency program designed to offer those interested in obtaining an MFA but without the time to dedicate to a residential program the opportunity to study at their own pace. The program features fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction tracks in a flexible and affordable format.

Photo Courtesy: Arkansas SCBWI by Tanja Wooten

Writing Workshops/Conferences

Writing Workshops and conferences are a good way to jump into writing and decide if the writing life is for you. Check out the exciting opportunities in Arkansas this year.

Writer’s Workshop – Mark your calendar for March 7 at the William F. Laman Public Library in North Little Rock. The Writer’s Workshop is a two and a half hour event that offers both new and veteran authors a chance to take their writing to the next step.

 Springdale Author Academy– The first Tuesday of each month, the Springdale Library hosts a workshop from 6 – 7 p.m. for writers of all levels. The workshop focuses on different elements of craft.

Eureka Springs will host the 54th Ozark Creative Writers Conference on October 8th and includes a writing contest as part of the conference.

The Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators has an active Arkansas chapter that hosts a conference each spring, as well as a fall event and numerous critique groups. Visit SCBWI Arkansas for more information.

The C.D. Wright Women Writers Conference is through the University of Central Arkansas in Conway and held in November. Currently, the 2020 conference is holding a call for proposals, with more information forthcoming.

The Village Writing School was founded by Arkansas author Alison Taylor-Brown to help new and established writers continue to work on their craft. It now exists as a mostly online community with on-demand webinars.

Arkatext is the University of Conway Creative Writing program’s festival to celebrate Arkansas writers. The festival will begin the week of April 6, with workshops and readings available all week on campus.

Writers Groups

Joining a writing group may be the best way to improve your writing. Meeting regularly with other writers to review your work helps hone your story.

The Northwest Arkansas Writers Workshop – This long-standing critique group welcomes new writers as well as veterans each Saturday from 2 – 4 p.m. at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Fayetteville.

Ozark Poets and Writers Collective – This group meets on the last Tuesday of each month at Nightbird Books in Fayetteville. Each meeting features a reader of regional or national prominence and an open mic as well. This is a fun way to meet other readers and writers and hear great work being read aloud by the creators.

White County Creative Writers – This group has met since 1995 and welcomes writers from all over Central Arkansas. They meet the third Monday of each month at Simmons First Bank in Searcy from 6:30- 8:30 p.m. The group also has a writing conference each fall.

Village Writers’ Club – The club meets regularly around Hot Springs for readings, workshops and other events to promote writing and craft. Check the website for the list of 2020 meeting times.

More critique groups can be found at ArkansasWriters.com.

Photo: Flicker Arkansas Highways

Book Festivals

Though not writing opportunities, book festivals can connect you to other local writers and readers and are great ways to support writing in Arkansas.

The Six Bridges Book Festival (formerly the Arkansas Literary Festival) kicks off April 23 and promises a full slate of activities for readers of all ages. From readings to poetry contests, music, and locally and nationally known authors, the conference will take place across 18 venues in Little Rock.

Eureka Springs will hold the Books in Bloom Literary Festival May 17. The festival is a great way for writers and readers to connect and will showcase both local authors and nationally known ones in a full afternoon of presentations and readings.

Every fall the Fayetteville Public Library holds True Lit Fest, a celebration of reading and writing. True Lit Fest holds workshops for creators around a variety of topics and often has a publisher’s panel, where authors find out more about publishing their work. The festival takes place in October.

Writing Retreats

Sometimes the best way to get the creative juices flowing is to get out of the daily routine. These writing retreats offer time away from home to tackle that writing project.

The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow provides residencies all year long at an affordable rate for any creative to get away and devote time to a project. In addition, the colony also has workshops and offers a location for group retreats.

The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center holds two writing retreats each year, guided by professional authors. Attendees have the chance to work closely with the mentors, get to know other writers and have time to work on their projects in Hemingway’s Barn Studio.

The Open Mouth Poetry Retreat will be at Mt. Sequoyah in Fayetteville June 5 through June 8, but applicants can only apply until March 1, 2020. The retreat aims to foster creative work for emerging or established poets in an inclusive, community environment. Open Mouth also hosts poetry readings and generative workshops on a regular basis in Fayetteville.

With so much to offer, Arkansas writers can easily find a space to write and people to help nurture their words.

 

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Kimberly S. Mitchell loves journeys, real or imagined. She has hiked the Inca Trail, walked into Panama on a rickety wooden bridge and once missed the last train of the night in Paris and walked several miles home (with friends). She believes magic can be found in life and books, loves to watch the stars appear, and still dreams of backpacking the world. Now she writes adventures to send her characters on journeys, too. Pen & Quin: International Agents of Intrigue - The Mystery of the Painted Book is her debut novel. Find out more at KSMitchell.com.

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