At the Schnitz last night, writer Elizabeth Strout told her Literary Arts audience that when she became frustrated with her writing she enrolled in a stand-up comedy class. Though this experience helped her find her voice, she claims the stress of it it took a few years off her life. If you want to take a less terrifying route to finding your own voice, consider applying to a summer writing workshop. Throughout the summer months, many of the top writing programs in the country open their campuses to young writers, offering intensive creative workshops mixed with the fun and community of an artsy summer camp. The process of applying to these programs can be, in itself, helpful, as you must gather your favorite pieces and think about why you love to write and how you want to improve your writing. Both of the following programs offer potential scholarships, and your odds for them are heightened the earlier you apply. Ready, set, go!

Kenyon Review Young Writers

The Kenyon Review, run out of Kenyon College in Ohio, is one of the nation’s top literary magazines. Every summer, Kenyon’s staff applies their editing philosophy to this intensive two-week workshop that claims to be a “feast of words,” full of writing, reading, workshops, author readings, and talking with other young writers from across the country and abroad. Past attendees say that the workshop pushed them out of their comfort zones into exciting new realms of writing and overall creativity. The workshop uses many interesting approaches to writing, aiming to help students not only improve their writing skills, but make new friends, find new talents, and develop their minds. Get excited, this is no traditional summer school.

Bard College’s Writing and Thinking Workshops

These workshops were established by Bard’s Institute for Writing and Thinking to provide imaginative and stimulating summer programs for talented high school students. The workshops are based on the course that Bard requires of all its entering students, and involve exploring new forms of writing, playing between genres and practicing thinking through writing. The website notes that far more girls than boys apply for the programs, so guys, get on it, your voice is needed here!

The Writing and Thinking Workshops have branched out into three programs, at Simon’s Rock College in Massachusetts, at Lake Forest College in Illinois, and most importantly, at Lewis and Clark College, right here in Portland. The folks up at Lewis and Clark are aware of the awesomeness that is WITS, so send your writing and application along, asap.

Don’t stop here! There are many more programs like these. TeenInk has an extensive list of other awesome Writing and Pre-College summer camps all over the country.

-Kelly, WITS Intern