Explore Writing Resources in Central Oregon


(Photo | by Kristine Thomas)

Analyzing if it’s obvious who murdered the deceitful golfer, determining if your character’s banter is romantically playful or finding a word to rhyme with “solemnly” are a smattering of tasks a writer probably shouldn’t attempt to do alone.

Thankfully, there are many resources for writers to find what they need to benefit their writing, whether it is joining a critique group, meeting fellow writers, finding an editor or taking classes or workshops to hone their skills.

Mike Cooper is the president of Central Oregon Writers Guild (COWG) and teaches writing at Central Oregon Community College (COCC) and OSU-Cascades, along with creative writing workshops at The Workhouse, Deschutes Public Library and COCC Community Learning.

He said writing groups and classes assist writers in being more productive and educated as a community. “Writers are solitary creatures; we often live inside our own heads, which are sometimes wonderful places.”

Some writers find joy from the act of writing and don’t have a need for anyone to see their work, he added. “But being in our own heads with our own tunnel vision cuts off the reader — the variety of readers — and the potential for feedback and improvement. We not only learn from reading, but by being read, and by giving feedback to our peers. Community is a good thing.”

Cooper recommends workshops offered by Blank Pages, Ellen Santasiero and Sarah Cyr, classes at OSU-Cascades and COCC and reading groups and author presentations at local bookstores in Bend, Redmond, Sunriver and Sisters.

Julie Swearingen is the publicity director of COWG and the event and consignment manager at Roundabout Books in Bend. “I recommend connecting with writer’s guilds and other writers to every author I work with because those are also their readers,” Swearingen said. “They can find critique groups, beta readers, fellow editors and other publishing professionals through those connections.”

Deschutes Public Library

Deschutes Public Library Program Director Liz Goodrich and Program Specialist Paige Ferro invite writers to checkout Write Here, a three-part program created to benefit Central Oregon’s writing community. “The Deschutes Public Library is here to support the writing community in an intentional way by creating space and opportunities for writers to be able to learn and grow in their craft,” Goodrich said.

Write Here’s three pillars are:

  • Writers Writing provides writing workshops for writers to practice their craft, explore working with a new genre or polish a specific writing skill.
  • Writers Working is both a creative and a business endeavor to help writers explore what it takes to be a successful working writer.
  • Writers Reading introduces the local writing community to local and national writers working in various genres.

Ferro said experienced writing instructors facilitate the free programs, which are open to everyone with an interest in cultivating their craft from the beginning to the end of a writing project. “The act of writing is solitary. Our program provides writers with the support, inspiration and feedback to keep going.”

Central Oregon Writers Guild

The Central Oregon Writers Guild’s mission is to provide writers a “forum for mutual support and education through meetings, annual events and workshops. Our goal is to advance growth and success for individual writers of all genres and skill levels.”

Swearingen said COWG members meet the second Tuesday of every month from 5:30-7:30pm. The meetings include a reading from a local author, workshops and presentations. Meetings are free and open to the public. Membership is $25 a year and provides a discount on workshops offered several times a year. “COWG is a great way to network,” she said. “Roundabout Books has hosted various events with local writers and will continue to partner with COWG to support the writing community.

Swearingen said COWG members wear multiple hats in the writing sphere. “We have editors, publicists, interior designers, cover designers and more to help a writer with any stage of their process.”

Swearingen added that COWG’s leadership board is inclusive and welcoming, which was helpful to her when she moved back to Bend from Portland. “COWG has developed a great group of members, and we are always looking for new faces and ways to expand.”

Sarah Cyr’s Workshops

Sarah Cyr’s work includes articles in Newsweek, The Boston Globe, Boston Magazine and Cosmopolitan. In 2014, she read Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down to the Bones and began a daily writing practice. She has studied with Goldberg including a year-long program at the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe.

Sarah teaches writing practice, emphasizing the importance of making writing a regular habit and developing a writing routine that can grow to other writing projects such as a novel, essay or memoir. This fall, she is teaching an eight-week class to help writers unravel their own stories by paying attention to their senses. “I teach writing as a practice,” she said. “It’s a confluence of writing along with studying mindfulness.”

She will provide her students with a prompt and encourage them to keep the pen moving to get down what they are thinking without editing. “Everyone has a great story to tell,” she said. “I help writers who are starting and those who have been doing it for a while. Writers need someone to listen to what they write as well as benefiting from listening and learning to what others have written.”

There are many resources for writers in Central Oregon. Here are the ones listed in the story:


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