By Hope Bolinger, a professional writing student at Taylor University
Graduating in January, I find myself already nostalgic for the professional writing program at Taylor (even though I have yet to leave it). By far, this group will make it hardest to drive away from Upland in two months.
This program has allowed me to make indelible friendships, grow a thicker skin when it comes to writing, and have a little fun amidst mountains of homework from Gen Eds. As I traverse past the Indiana flatlands into the rolling hills of Ohio (and who knows whence forth after?), I hope to carry with me a remnant of the following traditions.
1. Professional Writing Retreats
Although, yes, writing retreats exist elsewhere, I have an inkling they don’t happen quite like they do at Taylor. Which retreats allow you to dress up as dwarves from the Lord of the Rings Universe or play Star Wars mafia?
Professional writing retreats mimic writer’s conferences, without the pressure of pitching to agents and editors, allowing for us grown adults to come in themed costumes to learn about writing. Not to mention, writing competitions and dancing games interspersed throughout the day make these events easy to look forward to after a long week.
2. Professional Writing Dinners
“Oh, looks like the prowrites are having dinner tonight.”
I hear some version of this every Wednesday night at the Taylor University dining commons as a group of us pull together three circular tables. Clustering in huddles, we play madlibs and discuss how we’ve recently killed or tortured our characters. It makes for some great reactions from surrounding tables and a fantastic night to unwind from stress.
3. The Coalition of Chaos
We have our own version of the Inklings: a group with a brand name and t-shirts that declare, “We words well.” Although I’m not a part of the Coalition, I love that we have one.
4. Professional Writing Critique Groups
Critique groups exist anywhere writers do, but not quite like the ones at Taylor. These ones tend to have the writer’s best interests at heart because of the friendships embedded within. Not to mention, most weeks, no critique happens. As we get lost in the vortex of YouTube videos and silliness, we learn that camaraderie and uncontrollable giggling can often help a writer’s journey far more than a red pen can.
5. PWR YouTube Channel
An excuse to wear a unicorn onesie? Yes please.
Our own version of Studio C takes place on alternating Fridays, and I haven’t laughed as much in my life as I do on those nights. Videos alternate between themes of how not to pitch to agents to what it looks like to actually give birth to a novel. Although silly, we tend to learn and teach a great deal through it.