6 Organizations That Support And Encourage Writers

Writing is a solitary pursuit that often involves long hours spent alone staring at a computer screen, but that doesn't mean you have to do everything by yourself. These organizations work to connect authors, playwrights, songwriters, and other creatives so they can work together to develop their crafts, advocate on important issues, and support one another as they strive to produce innovative art. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

6 Organizations Offering Help to Writers

Name Headquarters Focus
PEN America New York, NY Works to protect free expression with initiatives on college campuses, in prisons, in nations where artists and journalists are at risk, and in communities around the world
West Coast Songwriters Chapters throughout California Network of local groups where members can build relationships and receive helpful feedback on their work
A Studio in the Woods New Orleans, LA Retreat and learning center providing artists and scholars with a space close to nature where they can pursue their work
Sisters in Crime Lawrence, KS, with chapters across the US and Canada Supports women crime writers, promoting diversity and inclusion through a professional network, quarterly journal, and research grants
PlayPenn Philadelphia, PA Guides playwrights as they craft new works with staged readings, classes, networking opportunities, and the three-year Foundry program
Authors Guild New York, NY Membership organization with resources for authors like contract reviews and legal aid, and a foundation that advocates on behalf of writers on issues like free speech and copyright protection

PEN America's "Dangerous Work: An Evening with Toni Morrison"

Arts Education in America

An Introduction to PlayPenn

Helpful Books for Aspiring Writers

Title Author(s)
1. To Show and to Tell Phillip Lopate
2. How Not to Write a Novel Howard Mittelmark & Sandra Newman
3. Story Genius Lisa Cron
4. Plot Fiction like the Masters Terry Richard Bazes
5. That Should Be a Word Lizzie Skurnick
6. Origins of the Specious Patricia T. O'Conner & Stewart Kellerman
7. How to Write a Murder Mystery Jeffrey Marks
8. Fireflies: A Writer's Notebook Coleen Murtagh Paratore
9. Tiger Writing Gish Jen
10. A Solemn Pleasure Melissa Pritchard
11. Writing Isn't Sexy Katie Rose Guest Pryal

In Depth

Putting pen to paper can be a solitary, difficult experience, and yet so many of our most cherished cultural treasures, whether they be movies, plays, or even books themselves, are the result of the act of writing. Fortunately, many groups that seek to bring authors together exist, focusing on topics like freedom of speech, amplifying minority voices, and creating a supportive community for our country's wordsmiths. If you are interested in learning more about their work, then here are, in no particular order, six organizations that support and encourage writers.

Coming in at #1 is PEN America, formed in 1922. With headquarters in New York City and other offices in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., this nonprofit focuses on literature and human rights, seeking to protect the freedom to write for individuals at home and abroad. The largest organization in the network that comprises PEN International, PEN America maintains a membership of over 7,200 writing professionals, readers, and supporters from all fifty states.

In support of its mission to bring together and defend the rights of writers, PEN America runs a number of free expression and literary programs. The Press Freedom Incentive Fund, for instance, gives financial assistance to initiatives in local communities that create dialogue around freedom of the press. Elsewhere, the Prison Writing Program connects incarcerated writers with resources, mentors, and an audience for their work. Those who wish to get involved with PEN America can attend one of its many events, sign an online petition, or donate directly.

Those who wish to get involved with PEN America can attend one of its many events, sign an online petition, or donate directly.

At #2 is West Coast Songwriters. Founded in 1979, WCS offers its members the opportunity to form meaningful personal and professional relationships, with the goal of improving their development as songwriters and artists. Putting on more than twenty events each month, West Coast Songwriters works to make music less of a solitary endeavor and more of a collaborative process for its members.

To promote a fortifying, communal environment, WCS publicizes several classes and workshops given by industry leaders each year. In addition, it hosts its annual International Song Contest, which awards prizes for original songs in genres such as blues, classical, and metal. The overall winner of the International Song Contest is invited to perform at the organization's annual conference, which is celebrating its fortieth anniversary in 2020. If you are interested in supporting West Coast Songwriters, consider attending a show put on by one of its members or making a contribution.

In the #3 spot is A Studio in the Woods. Once serving as the homestead and studios of Lucianne and Joe Carmichael, this non-profit retreat and learning center has a dual mission: to ensure the continued health of the Mississippi River bottomland hardwood forest and to give artists and scholars a creative space connected to the natural world where they can pursue their work. Located in New Orleans, the compound was donated to Tulane University in 2004.

Once serving as the homestead and studios of Lucianne and Joe Carmichael, this non-profit retreat and learning center has a dual mission: to ensure the continued health of the Mississippi River bottomland hardwood forest and to give artists and scholars a creative space connected to the natural world where they can pursue their work.

A Studio in the Woods provides several residencies for both established and emerging scholars and creatives, working in disciplines such as performance, new media, and composition. It also occasionally teams up with outside organizations to create collaborative residencies, with past partners including Prospect New Orleans and Newcomb Art Museum. Furthermore, it runs other programs throughout the year, like FORESTival: A Celebration of Art and Nature and a summer camp called Kids in the Woods. Those who wish to get involved with this nonprofit can attend one of its upcoming events or make a donation online.

At #4 is Sisters in Crime. With roots going back to 1986, this organization, boasting more than 4000 members and over fifty chapters around the world, strives to support women crime writers, promoting diversity, inclusion, and equality. Bringing together a network of writers, readers, agents, publishers, and other bibliophiles, it advances its mission through four main areas: community and connection, education, spreading the news, and advocacy and outreach.

Examples of Sisters in Crime's initiatives include its series of informational webinars, which often feature advice from industry professionals, and its Academic Research Grants, which annually provide financial support to individuals purchasing books for research projects. It also offers the Dorothy Cannell Scholarship, which gives funding to enable one member to attend the Malice Domestic Conference. If you are interested in getting involved with Sisters in Crime, you can check out its quarterly journal or consider joining as an official member.

Examples of Sisters in Crime's initiatives include its series of informational webinars, which often feature advice from industry professionals, and its Academic Research Grants, which annually provide financial support to individuals purchasing books for research projects.

Coming in at #5 is PlayPenn. Based in Philadelphia, this artist-driven organization supports the development of playwrights and their new works. While it does not produce plays itself, it does offer dramatists creative freedom and access to a network of knowledgeable experts through a variety of programs. Each year, PlayPenn's efforts contribute to staged readings of at least ten plays, and since 2005, it has had a hand in the development of more than 140 new plays.

PlayPenn has a robust educational department, running classes both in person and online; past ones have covered topics such as the art of rewriting and unleashing the writer within. Other offerings include the Rent A Dramaturg program and a four-step Application Review service. Furthermore, the Foundry, a three-year program, connects emerging playwrights with opportunities to improve their craft and meet other people in the industry. Those who wish to show their support for PlayPenn can make donations online or inquire about internships with the organization.

Last but not least, at #6 is the Authors Guild. Founded in 1912, this nonprofit, the oldest and largest professional organization of writers, is committed to defending the rights of authors through its support of free speech, fair contracts, and copyright; it also seeks to create a nurturing community for writers of all genres. Dedicated to the principles of fair payment, the right to distribute, proper attribution, and author retention of ownership, the Authors Guild comprises two separate parts: a membership organization, which provides benefits to those who pay dues, and a foundation, which advocates on behalf of writers everywhere.

Dedicated to the principles of fair payment, the right to distribute, proper attribution, and author retention of ownership, the Authors Guild comprises two separate parts: a membership organization, which provides benefits to those who pay dues, and a foundation, which advocates on behalf of writers everywhere.

For its members, the Authors Guild provides a variety of services. It offers assistance for writers publishing books, giving them access to legal expertise when dealing with contracts. Elsewhere, it helps authors build their own websites, furnishing them with a personalized domain name and ongoing support. Members also get first and often exclusive access to seminars, panels, webinars, and other gatherings throughout the year. If you are interested in getting involved with the Authors Guild, you can sign up to receive its free newsletter or check out its policy stances online.