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Events for Writers in Wisconsin

This list of events for writers in Wisconsin includes retreats, contests, conferences, and more. Many of the events are annual events.

Events for Writers

Wisconsin writers, 2020 is your year to shine. Get started with this calendar of writing contests, retreats, conferences, and conventions in Wisconsin. Many of these events for writers take place annually. If you have an event you’d like us to list, please Contact us or comment below.

January-March events for writers

RETREAT: The Weekend Writers’ Retreat at the Oxbox, Eau Claire, Feb 8-9

Held at the Oxbow Hotel in downtown Eau Claire, this weekend workshop has three writers-in-residence: fiction writer Christina Clancy, poet Dorothy Chan, and nonfiction writer/editor Mary Morgan. The events are hosted by writer B.J. Hollars and includes a series of craft talks and exercises. The early bird rate is $215.95/$240.95 until December 31, then $235.95/$260.95. Get more info at the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild website.

People at Oxbow writing retreat

WRITING CONTEST:  Wisconsin People & Ideas Fiction & Poetry Contest

The contest opens January 15 for work between 2,000 and 5,000 words. All submissions must be received by March 15, 2020. Winners will be announced in July and the first place winner will be published in the fall 2020 issue of Wisconsin People & Ideas as well as receive a one-week artist residency at Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts. Second and third place winners will be published in subsequent issues and there are cash prizes for first through third place. Read more about the contest here.

WRITING CONTEST: The Jade Ring Writing Contest

The Wisconsin Writers’ Association hosts an annual writing contest in the categories of fiction, humor, nonfiction, and poetry. The contest will open spring of 2020 and the award ceremony will take place in the fall. First place winners receive a jade ring or cash prize, a certificate, and recognition at the ceremony. Other finalists receive a cash award. All winners will be published in the Creative Wisconsin Anthology. You can learn more at the Association website.

April-June events for writers


The 2020 Hal Prize offers publication to a readership of more than 18,000, cash awards, and a week stay at Write On, Door County. The deadline for submissions in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and photography is Friday, May 1, 2020. Winners will be notified August 7, 2020. Work should be previously unpublished and fiction and nonfiction should be under 2,000 words. There’s a $5 submission fee. Find out more at the The Hal Prize submittable page.

CONFERENCE AND WRITING CONTEST: Lakefly Writers Conference, Oshkosh, May 8-9

This two-day conference held at the Premier Waterfront Hotel and Convention Center in Oshkosh offers a variety of sessions, craft talks, writing contests, and a keynote speaker. The fee for 2020 is $65 until March 31, then goes up to $75. The writing contests will open January 6, 2020, with a deadline of March 13, 2020. There’s four categories, no entry fee, and cash prizes. Winners must be able to attend the awards ceremony on Saturday, May 9. Get more at the Lakefly Writers Confrence webpage. Photo credit: Vicky Schettl.

RETREAT: NIP Bookcamp & Writing Retreat, Cedar Valley, May 17-23

The Novel-in-Progress Bookcamp is held at a 100-acre retreat center in southeast Wisconsin. There’s morning instruction, an afternoon editing clinic, group critique sessions, one-on-one consultations with staff, pitch sessions with literary agents, and presentations on writing and publishing topics. Enrollment is capped at 15 and the cost for the retreat, lodging, and food is $1,475.

RETREAT: Summer Solstice at Stout’s Island Retreat, Birchwood, June 14-19

This year will be the eighth annual Summer Solstice retreat for writing and yoga. Each day will have two workshops, three yoga sessions, evening presentations, and delicious meals.  Writing workshops are guided by Jeannine Ouellette, and yoga and meditation by Zoe Kingman. The $2,295 price includes a private room at Stout Island Lodge WI and all meals and activities. You can learn more at Elephant Rock Retreats.

RETREAT: Write by the Lake, Madison, June 15-19

Write by the Lake is led by educators and writers from UW-Madison and more to bring top notch instruction to writers of all levels. The Writer magazine says, “It’s like two semesters of an MFA program. You work so hard and get so much to take home with you.” Enrollment is limited to 15 participants per section. The 2019 sessions cost $425+, not including food and lodging. Watch their website for registration opening in January 2020.

Person at w

RETREAT: The Priory Writers’ Retreat, Eau Clair, June 25-28

Applications for The Priory will open February 1. Last year’s costs were around $450 for lodging, food, and supplies. Though information is not yet available, you can follow the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild on social media and bookmark their website.

July-September events for writers

CONVENTION: Conquer Con, Appleton, Sept 19

Conquer Con is a brand new science fiction and fantasy convention to be hosted at the Fox Cities Exhibition Center. The convention is committed to supporting the local creative economy and will offer writing workshops, author talks and panels, and a marketplace for interested vendors. You can learn more on the Conquer Con website.

Conquer Con logo

WRITING CONTEST: The Mill Prize for Short Fiction

This local Fox Cities contest accepts short stories up to 4,500 words. They begin accepting submissions in August and close in September. One winner will receive a $200 prize. The winner and other honorees will be announced at a Fox Cities Book Festival event. You can learn more here.

RETREAT: Bjorklunden, Door County

2020 sessions and dates are not yet available, but this northern campus of Lawrence University offers week-long classes on a variety of topics, often including literature, poetry, and writing. There’s morning classes, optional afternoon activities, and plenty of open time to write in the lodge or explore the 441-acre estate on Lake Michigan. The cost is $925 or $465 for daily commuters. Get more info at Lawrence’s website.

October-December events for writers

FESTIVAL: Fox Cities Book Festival, Fox Cities, October

The Fox Cities Book Festival brings 55+ authors to speak at libraries, schools, and book stores in Appleton and the Fox Cities. There is a variety of author talks, craft workshops, and literary events. All events are free and open to the public. Watch the festival website for announcements about next year’s event. Interested authors can also apply to speak now.

CONFERENCE: Great Lakes Writer’s Festival, Sheboygan

The Great Lakes Writer’s Festival is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Hosted by Karl Elder, Lakeland’s Fessler Professor of Creative Writing, writers have access to talks, workshops, and readings. The dates for the 2020 festival have not yet been released so check back on their website.

RETREAT: Weekend with Your Novel, Madison, October 23-25

This three-day retreat will be held at the Pyle Center in Madison. It offers the opportunity to work with an acclaimed author in a small group with time for reading, writing, and networking. There’s also opportunity for a ten page critique for an added price. The cost is $345 plus lodging. Get more info on their webpage.


RETREAT: Write On, Door County

If none of these events for writers fit your schedule, you can plan your own writing retreat, anywhere from one week to one month in length, but you will have to plan far in advance and submit writing samples to become a resident writer at Write On, Door County. Residents are provided a bedroom on the second floor of the Write On house surrounded by 40 acres of wilderness. Behind the house is The Coop, the writing studio of late writer Norbert Blei. There’s a $40 application fee and writers are responsible for their own food and agree to lead a community workshop. Learn more, including openings on the schedule at their website.

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