Help for D.C. Writers from the Writer's Center

Washington, D.C. based Writer's Center has been in operation since 1976 with a goal of cultivating "the creation, publication, presentation, and dissemination of literary work" with the belief that "the craft of writing is open to people of all backgrounds and ages." They are an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit with global connections that offer an assortment of fellowships, scholarships, and prizes to writers living in the D.C. area and beyond.

The Writer's Center has developed a solid reputation in the decades it's been offering its various programs of education, support, and outreach. It has a distinguished Board of Directors and Honorary Board, which includes notables such as PBS news anchor Jim Lehrer and poet and chairman for the National Endowment for the Arts Dana Gioia. Many of The Writer's Center's services are of immediate benefit to writers living directly in the D.C. area like many of the different workshops to choose from, the professional development seminars, the classroom, reading room, and theater rentals, and the various readings they offer. But The Writer's Center also offers an interesting handful of fellowships, scholarships, and prizes, all available to writers who are in their begining stages.

The Emerging Writer Fellowship is available to fiction, nonfiction, and poetry writers with no more than two books published in a single genre and includes a featured reading at the center and a $250 honorarium for those writers living within a 250-mile radius of the center ($500 for all others). The Undiscovered Voices Scholarship is designed specifically for writers living in the D.C. area who earn less than $25,000 annually. It provides free workshops at the center for up to a year to recipients. The First Novel Prize is a $500 yearly award given to writers who have published their first novel (obviously) in the previous year.

None of these are going to make anyone rich, but a little help and recognition from an organization like the Writer's Center can only serve to benefit beginning writers trying to get a foothold in the industry. The exposure and connections these services provide can be just as beneficial and valuable as the awards themselves if not more so. Even if you aren't within the Washington, D.C. area, it's worth looking into.