IYWS Student Testimonials

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A paradise for writers.
-- George S., Connecticut

Attending the Young Writers Studio really allowed me, a boy from a small town an hour and a half away from Iowa City, to get a glimpse and learn about how diverse and wonderful the world of writing really is. It allowed me the once in a life time opportunity to meet with people from all over the country (and world), all gathered together to share in a similar love for writing. The meeting of so many different people with so many different backgrounds, cultures, and personalities really influenced and changed my writing style and outlook on the world as a whole and prepared me for later one when I would come back to the University of Iowa for college. The Young Writer's studio is not only a wonderful opportunity to culture yourself, but also to culture your writing.
-- Johnny M., Iowa

The Iowa Young Writers’ Studio, indubitably, has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Not only do I believe more in the future of writing, I believe in my own voice. I have learnt to embrace my roots and know that my dreams are valid.
-- Devanshi K., India    

My time at the Iowa Young Writers Studio was incredibly valuable to me, not just for the knowledge or exposure to various writing practices, but the most valuable part of the young writer's studio is the personal connections. To this day I have friends and teachers I met in the Studio that I regularly talk to and stay in contact with today.
-- Nick C., Iowa

Iowa made me a better writer.
-- Leonel M., New York

I don't think that teenage writers, especially teenage girls, are always taken seriously as writers, but at the Studio it was a given. So that went a long way towards helping me take myself seriously and think of myself as a writer. And it was a chance to critically engage with the craft of writing in a way that I still really enjoy! When I came back to high school, I had some wonderful English teachers, who were themselves creative writers, and who knew I had been to the Studio and pushed me to build on the skills I had learned there. So in the span of those two weeks and then another year of high school, my writing really, concretely, improved. Those experiences very much changed how I write and think about writing now. Funnily enough, I am currently in a PhD program in history, where I am very lucky to have an advisor who thinks that even academic writing should be both beautifully argued and beautifully written-- we talk about craft as much as argument, story as much as history. So I find myself, in the process of writing about very obscure historical topics, thinking about characters and settings. I think about what well-chosen details will not just further my argument, but will show, really show, the reader the ideas I'm trying to convey. I think about sentences not just as vehicles for complex ideas but also because I want to write sentences as gorgeous as the ones I read. Being a fiction writer has made me a better academic writer, but time will only tell if it goes the other way!
-- Catherine B., Iowa

I spent two weeks honing my craft in ways I didn’t even knew I could. I spent two weeks learning to find the stories around me, to write the ghosts in characters without ever mentioning their troubles, to hear the poetry in the noise, to turn a city into a sonnet. Every night I went to sleep having written something I wanted to keep, or having read something I never wanted to forget…I fell in love with my workshop, a group of people who inspired me and transformed the way that I write, who provided me with a reading list that will last me until my final days.
-- Sarisha K., California

Iowa started the process of reclaiming me, from secret fears, from self-doubt, from the cage I had put myself in. Of course I still struggle, but I’m stronger now. More confident. And it’s a magnificent feeling.
-- Kayla B., Wisconsin

I think the most meaningful part of the experience for me was the chance to be inspired by my fellow students, both in and out of the classroom. I went in to the Studio terrified of letting anyone, let alone a room of strangers, read my work, but I don’t think I could have learned a fraction as much as I did if I hadn’t listened to my classmates suggestions. As well as being completely brilliant writers, the other students in my session were the most creative, clever, quirky group I have ever met—I know I made some lifelong friends. Between writing a poem based on random lines from the dust-jackets, buying several copies of Brideshead Revisited, sharing work with my roommate, and our bizarre eighties-style prom, I can truthfully say that I had the best two weeks of my life!
-- Miranda G., Maryland

I don’t think I’ve ever known a more intelligent, sensitive, well-read and incredibly talented group of people than in the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio. These people were writers, just like me, and I couldn’t have felt more safe and at home.
-- Willa C., New York

The (Iowa Young Writers’ Studio) model is similar to the one employed by the famous graduate-level program, and it worked incredibly well for me. I was in a class with a broad focus (“creative writing”) and my eleven classmates made up an intimate group with whom I felt comfortable sharing and discussing very private work…we had the opportunity to meet writers our age – strangers from far-off regions of the country tied together by a common interest and a determination to pursue that interest. Being together practically every waking moment helped these friendships bloom remarkably fast. Between the counselors and teachers and many live readings, we were also lucky enough to talk to older writers – people who are making a living out of writing and who let us imagine how we could eventually pursue the craft professionally or at least make it a part of our lives.
-- Jacob P., Iowa

The Iowa Young Writers’ Studio changed the way I read and write because its amazing students and teachers know what it is to be unabashedly in love with fiction and poetry and everything else, and they understand why other people are as well.
-- Milo D., New York

The friends I made at IYWS are my people. They thought about things I thought about, and they cared about things I cared about. I’ve never seen writing respected and revered and considered important the way it was at IYWS. The teachers/counselors were artists, and that was so incredible to me. I have also never seen people so passionate about their jobs. The teachers/counselors at IYWS believe in what they are doing. They believe they are contributing meaning and beauty to the world, and they are right.
-- Cara M., Texas

I made surprisingly tight bonds with a group of people I never would have met otherwise. We were all very different—in musical taste, writing style, reading preferences, etc.—but were also all, in some small way, the same. IYWS really did open a creative space in my mind and my surroundings, and exceeded my every expectation in terms of a community and a learning experience.
-- Liam B., California

IYWS taught me, in essence, how to learn how to write.
-- Ruth S., Oklahoma

The Iowa Young Writer’s Studio helped me find my writing voice and connected me to others with a shared passion, and I will never forget my time spent in Iowa City.
-- David O., California

What we did talk about at the studio was writing, and it was an experience like no other. I had before never been surrounded by people who were so different from and similar to me at the same time. The one beautiful thing that bonded us was our love of words.
-- Siqi L., Illinois

Iowa City gave me what my hometown of seventeen years never could: solitude (when desired) and a close network of writers who both mentored me and encouraged me to keep writing.
-- Meg B., California

Being surrounded by so many passionate, simultaneously like-minded and diverse people for a fortnight not only inspired new ideas, but also galvanized me to write better—and above all, to write more, and to write everywhere.
-- Elaine T., Texas

What I’ve experienced of the IYWS is not so much an overpowering workload, but rather an intense emotional and intellectual stimulation. Your teachers will push you, but ultimately your decisions about what to make of your experience are yours. But the thing is, in this community, I’ve never met a person who didn’t want to write or read or talk about reading and writing, because ultimately, we are all here to get better. I’ve never made such good friends so quickly.
-- Julia S., California

Within just my first few days of classes, I have enjoyed some of the most analytical and captivating conversations about everything ranging from the practicalities of battle strategies to the different types of zombies and their effectiveness as sympathetic characters.
-- Madeleine R., Virginia

Where linear living splits open for a small, sacred while.
-- Elena S., New Mexico