Veteran Writing Groups November 1, 2018
Information on Veteran Writing Groups for Military Writers Society of America (MWSA) 2
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospitals 2
Veterans Voices 2
VA Writing Contests 3
Non-Government Veteran Organizations 3
Military Experience & the Arts 3
Veterans Writing Project 3
United States Veterans’ Artists Alliance (USVAA) 3
Veteran Artist Program 4
War Writers 4
Warrior Writers 4
Mil Speak 4
Syracuse Veterans’ Writing Group 5
Writers Guild Foundation (WGF) Veterans Writing Project 6
The Military Writers Guild 7
Other Non-Veteran Writing Organizations 7
Links to Southwest Writers: 7
Also, the Corrales Writing Group link: 7
Link to Writing University [University of Iowa]: 7
The Writer’s Garrett, Dallas, TX 7
Western Writers of America 8
Additional Resources 9
Military Books 9
During the 2017 MWSA Annual Conference’s Board of Directors Meeting, MWSA Vice President Bob Doerr appointed a group of Board members as a committee to compile a list of military and veteran-related writing groups for future outreach efforts. Per the MWSA bylaws:
The organization's goals are:
(a) to improve writing skills of its members, and
(b) to reach out to schools, military organizations and veterans’ groups to foster and encourage an interest in writing, and
(c) to recognize the accomplishments of its members' work in literature and the communication arts.
The committee of Valerie Ormond, Jim Tritten, and Kathleen Rodgers collected the following list from personal experience and research. The MWSA Board recommended this list be shared with MWSA members. We will distribute it to 2018 MWSA Annual Conference attendees and will also reside on the MWSA website. Members, please feel free to make additions to this list based on your knowledge and experience by letting one of your current MWSA Board members know of your suggestions. The committee provides the following thoughts and recommendations.
The VA offers writing groups as a part of recreational therapy. Generally, these are at every VA hospital. A link will be specific to each hospital. The writing groups are generally not highly visible, and a limiting factor is that the writer must have a VA patient identification card. Most hospitals publish the writings of members of the group in a locally produced product distributed locally on campus.
As an example, here is the link for Albuquerque VA Hospital:
The local VA hospitals have a volunteer who selects the best of local stories produced by members of their groups and sends them to a national volunteer organization that publishes the periodic journal called Veterans Voices. Writers do not need to go through the local hospital to be published in Veterans Voices and can submit to them directly.
Links to Veterans Voices:
The VA runs an annual writing contest that is administered by each hospital. To participate, writers must be either an inpatient or outpatient at that hospital. Local winners are eligible to participate in the national contest. National winners are invited and paid to attend the annual National Veterans Creative Arts Festival co-sponsored with the American Legion Auxiliary.
Links to the Creative Arts Festival:
There are non-government veteran organizations that encourage writing by veterans. Some of these are structured and have publications associated with the organization.
Links to Military Experience & the Arts:
The Veterans Writing Project (VWP) based out of Washington, DC, hosts a variety of programs including semester-type courses and a 2-day workshop.
Links to Veterans Writing Project and its publication:
Information from the internet:
The United States Veterans’ Artists Alliance (USVAA) is a 501(c)3, non-profit, multi-disciplinary arts organization. Founded in 2004 by military veterans and artists, USVAA provides opportunities for veterans in the arts by networking with veterans, artists, supportive individuals and organizations within the arts and veterans’ communities to find funding and support for individual artistic projects in theater, film, television, the visual/fine arts and a wide variety of crafts….”
USVAA appears to be a rather large program in the Los Angeles, CA area with corporate support. They have several writing programs including the USVAA Veterans Writing Workshop, and they work with the Writers Guild Foundation. USVAA programs include screenwriting and television writing, literature, and poetry.
Links to USVAA:
Links to Veteran Artist Program:
Link to War Writers:
Links to Warrior Writers:
Based in North Carolina, under new leadership, Tracy Crow (MWSA member) recently took over as President. From MilSpeak’s online information:
MilSpeak Foundation, Inc., is a 501(c)3 public charitable organization that supports, promotes, and celebrates the creative arts endeavors of our military servicemembers, veterans, families, and caregivers through MilSpeak instructional on-site and online seminars and workshops, online publishing platforms, and resource advocacy for the purposes of documenting and preserving military history, increasing public awareness about the cross-generational impact of military experience, recognizing and promoting the wellness connection between arts-related activity and stress management, and fostering a warm community of artists.
But at the core of MilSpeak Foundation is the desire to help unleash YOUR inner artist.
Today, MilSpeak Foundation is led by former Marine Corps officer, Tracy Crow, whose diverse background is rooted in the military, corporate, and academic worlds. Her professional experience includes thirty-eight years of executive leadership expertise, crisis management training and leadership, sales training and management, advertising and marketing, public and media relations, corporate and entrepreneurial business development, publication design and editing, and academic teaching.
Tracy is a former assistant professor of journalism and creative writing and the author of five military-themed books. After leaving academia in 2013, she founded On Point Seminars & Workshops, named after her breakthrough writing text, On Point: A Guide to Writing the Military Story, and leads writing workshops, mostly for veterans and their families, around the country and online. On Point Seminars & Workshops is now a division of MilSpeak Foundation.
While MilSpeak Foundation, Inc., reorganizes under new leadership, what remains the same is its longstanding commitment toward building bridges between the creative arts and our military communities.
Links to MilSpeak:
From the Syracuse Veterans’ Writing Group website:
There's a reason soldiers make good writers. Under all the stress, they've got to remain composed, have discipline, pay attention to detail, make situational observations as if your life depended on it - and then communicate effectively with your fellow troops." —Andrew Carroll, founder of the Legacy Project
The Syracuse Veterans' Writing group is open to all veterans and their supporters. The focus of our group is on writing nonfiction accounts or "true stories" of life in and out of the military.
Veterans of all ages, branches of the military, and conflicts are welcome. You need not have any prior experience with writing, just a desire to write your stories and share them with others.
Our group meets once a month on Saturdays 10 a.m.-12 noon on the Syracuse University campus in the Writing Center, 1st floor, H.B. Crouse. Refreshments are provided, and the atmosphere is casual and relaxed. The bulk of our meeting time is focused on sharing and commenting on group members' writing. There is no cost or fee associated with the writing group. Just bring a notebook and pen or and be prepared to do some writing.
Writing group sessions focus on:
Learning key techniques for nonfiction writing
Drafting your stories
Sharing your stories and offering feedback to other group members
Encouraging each other as writers
Polishing and preparing your work for publication
The group is co-led by Eileen E. Schell, a writing teacher and writing group leader for over 20 years and Ivy Kleinbart, a poet and writing teacher at Syracuse University.
Link to Syracuse Veterans’ Writing Group:
WGF is screenplay-focused organization in Los Angeles. From the WGF website:
The mission of the Writers Guild Foundation’s Veterans Writing Project is to identify emerging writers from United States military backgrounds and provide them with the tools and insights to nurture their passion for writing and successfully navigate the entertainment industry.
We do this in two phases over a yearlong program: A weekend-long retreat, and monthly follow-up workshops and special events. Each military veteran is paired with WGA members. Our writer-mentors represent some of the most beloved movies and television series of the past and present, and are committed to guiding the voices of the future.”
Link to WGF:
The Military Writers Guild (MWG) is open to servicemembers, civilians, veterans and writers and shares a worldwide membership. Individual MWG members invite new members to join.
Link to MWG:
There are probably hundreds of non-veteran writing organizations with missions similar or identical to that of MWSA. Here is just one, the Southwest Writers in New Mexico, as a sample.
Finally, there are academic organizations that offer free writing classes not limited to veterans but certainly of interest to veterans.
The director has incorporated veterans into their curriculum in the past. MWSA members Jack London and Don Helin taught a class in Waco, TX summer of 2016 working with the Garrett and the VA.
In 2016, former MWSA member Leila Levinson and current MWSA Board member Kathleen Rodgers sat on a panel and spoke about writing about the military. Leila also conducted a two-hour training session for workshop instructors interested in working with veterans.
From the Writer’s Garrett website:
The Writer’s Garret has developed Writing Over War to support military veterans, their families, and others affected by conflict. Your story can change lives. Learn to tell it with skill and power. Share your experiences through writing in a way that will help others to better understand your service.
Writing Over War faculty and presenters are practicing writers: poets, novelists, memoirists, and playwrights; they are spoken-word artists and writers of creative non-fiction, flash fiction, and short stories. Many are themselves veterans, the spouses and sons and daughters of veterans, or refugees from war-torn countries. All are trained workshop facilitators with a heart for serving their communities through sharing their love of the written word.
Our workshops focus on the craft of writing, as well as strategies to help participants process and write about intense experiences in a way that promotes good health. Research exploring the connection between the arts and well-being has found that writing from deep feeling boosts immune function, brings about drops in blood pressure, reduces feelings of depression, and elevates daily moods. Writing makes a difference.
Writing Over War introductory workshops are always free to veterans and their family members. To learn more about bringing a workshop to your organization or community, contact us at WoverW@writersgarret.org
Link to Writing Over War:
From their website:
WWA was incorporated in 1953 to promote the literature of the American West. Like the Western landscape itself, WWA and the books, songs, and stories produced by its members have evolved immensely.
WWA boasts historians, nonfiction authors, young adult, romance writers, songwriters, poets, and screenwriters for film and television. We all have one thing in common—our work in every medium is set in the ever-changing American West.
Today we have more than 650 members who have garnered awards and made The New York Times best-sellers list. Members include C.J. Box, Anne Hillerman, Craig Johnson, Tom Clavin, Nancy Plain, Mark Hall-Patton, Thomas Cobb, Chris Enss, Kat Martin, Kirk Ellis, Lucia St. Clair Robson, Johnny D. Boggs, Paul Andrew Hutton and David Morrell.
Link to Western Writers of America:
Link to The Iowa Review’s collection of Writing Resources for Veterans (some of the above are included.) MWSA is listed:
Link to Article on Writing Groups:
Although not a writing group, The Military Books website offers authors who have served in the United States Military and were honorably discharged the opportunity to list their books at no cost on this site. As of September 2018, the site lists 1499 current and former servicemembers and their 4459 military books. Instructions can be found at the website’s Frequently Asked Questions link.