John Tolley, January 11, 2017

Putting pen to paper - or, more commonly, fingers to keyboard - can be one of the most arduous tasks surrounding the writing process. Ideas swirl in the mind, but executing on that vision sometimes seems like an impossibility.

And that?s just getting started. Writing is fraught with hurdles - both real and imagined - that can sideline the most dedicated of scribes.

Enter the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where, for the past 27 years, writers have been gathering to trade tips, workshop ideas, and meet industry insiders. The university?s annual Writing Institute, which convenes for its 28th year March 23-26, offers classes on dialogue, seminars on pitching manuscripts, and opportunities to interface with literary agents. Speakers range from memoirists to playwrights to video game writers.

?With this conference, UW-Madison reaches out to the community in the best tradition of the Wisconsin Idea,? says Laurie Scheer, director of the Writers? Institute, speaking to the UW-Madison News. ?It?s designed for anyone who needs help starting a book, finishing one, or exploring the publishing process. Our participants range from people who write as a hobby to those who aspire to a number-one bestseller.?

A number of writers who have participated in the Writing Institute have seen their work published, including Chicago-based author Bibi Belford who calls the Institute a ?cornerstone of [her] writing career.?

2017 will see several new additions to the Writing Institute?s lineup. The Poem and Page Luncheon offers entrants to the poem and essay contests a chance to have their works read aloud and possibly published in The Midwest Review Journal. There will also be master classes with faculty of the Division of Continuing Studies? writing department.

For more information on the Writing Institute, visit: