smaller jpg Unconference

WU Logo by Kristy Condon

We’ve talked about putting together a live event for a few years, but the holler-cry of the community has grown deafening, in the very best of ways. It’s time. And it’s going to be a blast…

The Writer Unboxed Un-Conference is unique. 

Part symposium. Part networking affair. Part workshop. Part retreat.

Unlike other conferences, our hybrid event will not focus on the business of writing; there will be zero (zip, nada) sessions on finding agents or writing query letters or building platform. Instead, our focus will be exclusively on the things WU’ers crave most:

  • drilled-down, interactive conversations on craft topics led by trusted WU contributors, including craft gurus Donald Maass and Lisa Cron, and bestselling authors Brunonia Barry and Meg Rosoff, and mind-stretching sessions to help you understand yourself better as a writer
  • time to interact with peers and group leaders in and outside of sessions, because everyone knows that the best part of a conference happens when the conversation begins
  • time to write

In other words, we’re going to lean on our strengths, the qualities that have made Writer Unboxed such a strong site and community. We’re going to empower you. But this time, we’re going to empower you in person—or as Porter Anderson would say, “IRL.”

Tell me more.

Our sessions will be centered around the theme “Rock, Paper, Scissors.”PSR-1

  • SCISSORS sessions are all about the craft, with topics that go a level deeper than the norm. For example, you might join a session entitled “developing the roots of your story by tapping into your personal history.”
  • ROCK sessions are focused on developing a writer’s inner strength. For example, you may join a session on “wringing the most out of critique while preserving your self-esteem.” Or join a “book therapy” session, where you and other writers will discuss trouble spots in your stories—or even your process—and offer one another suggestions and support.
  • PAPER sessions provide you with time to write. Some of these sessions may involve quiet group writing in the mornings (“morning coffee”), while others provide writing prompts and group sharing. Evenings may find you in the WU green room for story telling (“bedtime stories”)—a great experience for those who want practice with public speaking or simply to gauge the ability of their work-in-progress to keep an audience awake.

When and where?

The Writer Unboxed Un-Conference will kick off on Monday, November 3rd in Salem, Massachusetts, and span the week, culminating in a full-day workshop by Donald Maass on Friday, November 7th, and a cocktail party hosted by the Salem Literary Festival. Sessions will take place in The House of the Seven Gables Visitors Center, the Hawthorne Hotel’s Library and Ballroom, and–for those who want to write–space in one of the oldest membership libraries in the country, The Salem Athenaeum.

What follows is a rough look at the schedule.

  • Monday: check-in between noon and 5 p.m. (EST), followed by an orientation dinner in the ballroom at the Hawthorne Hotel at ~6 p.m. Don’t worry about showing up early and having nothing to do. We’ll plan some ice-breaker activities for the afternoon, or if you’d rather you can always plug in and start writing.
  • Tuesday-Thursday:
    • “Rock, Paper, Scissors” sessions; just like the game, you can choose what you’d like to focus on throughout your day
    • one-on-one meet-ups and small-group lunches between mentors and attendees
  • Friday: Donald Maass’s all-day “21st Century Fiction” workshop, followed by a cocktail party hosted by the Salem Literary Festival

We highly encourage attendees to stay through Saturday and register for the Salem Literary Festival’s fiction event, filled with panels on both the craft and business of fiction, and intended for both writers and readers. Though tickets are not yet available for the Salem Literary Festival, discounts will be offered to WU event attendees.

Photo by James Walsh

Photo by James Walsh

Any extra perks?

Registration will include a tour through The House of the Seven Gables, built in 1667 and inspiration for Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel of the same name. The tour will also include a look at Hawthorne’s birth home.

How many will be there, and how much will it cost?

As this is our first time out of this particular gate, and because we want to preserve a certain intimacy with this event, we’re capping attendance at ~100. If this event is a success, we’ll consider doing it again and possibly doing it bigger. Early support, though, will mean a lot. That’s why we’re attaching an early-bird price tag we think is pretty sweet: $499.

Early registration ends on June 30th, after which costs will increase to $599/registrant for any remaining spots.

Registration will close once we’ve reached 100 registered attendees.

I’m in. Where can I sign up?

Please visit our registration page at Eventbrite HERE to sign up, and for even more information–and a list of FAQs. (Please check that page before asking questions here. Thank you!)

We hope to see you in Salem, where we will all be together. Writing on.



Writer Unboxed began as a collaboration between aspiring novelists Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton in January, 2006. Since then the site has grown to include ~40 regular contributors--including bestselling authors and industry leaders--and frequent guests. You can follow Writer Unboxed on Twitter, or join our thriving Facebook community.