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Skidmore College
NYS Summer Young Writers Institute


NYS Summer Young Writers Institute

2020 Institute Information Coming Soon!

July 1 - 13, 2019

The New York State Summer Young Writers Institute will be held at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York from July 1 - 13, 2019.

Participants in the Summer Young Writers Institute receive instruction in poetry, fiction, and dramatic writing (screenwriting, playwriting, and dramatic monologue) and engage in the critical evaluation of each other’s work. By bringing top high school student writers together to work extensively with professional writers, the Institute provides young artists with recognition, respect, opportunities for artistic development, and peer support.

The Institute is open to any high school student entering the 10th, 11th, or 12th grade in the fall of 2019, who is a resident of the United States. Approximately 40 students will be chosen, based on the submission of creative writing samples (see application for details). Full and partial scholarships are available to participants based on financial need.

The New York State Summer Young Writers Institute celebrates its 21th annual creative writing workshop for high school students in conjunction with the Office of Special Programs at Skidmore College and the New York State Writers Institute at the State University of New York at Albany.  The Institute was founded by its Director, William Patrick, in 1998 and held on the shores of Lake George in Silver Bay, prior to moving to its current location at Skidmore College in 2008.
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Top reasons to attend the Summer Young Writers Institute from former participants

  • This program has been such a blast from the very beginning! From reading at Cafe Lena to coming up with 14 (!!!) new pieces to dorking around in the dorms at 2 A.M. with all my friends, it was such a great time. The group became very close very quickly, and the two weeks zipped by so fast. Thank you to all the amazing teachers – Bill, Bob, Elaine, Kathy and Richard – and of course the RAs – Samara, Nick, and Camila.
  • My time here has been marked by powerful, cathartic experiences and an overwhelming sense of belonging. Being part of this program doesn’t just mean that I am a talented writer; it means that I am a writer with the potential to grow and evolve. Through this program, I have learned that open-mindedness and commitment are the unforgettable keys to becoming a memorable and relatable author.
  • I’ve had an amazing last two weeks at the New York State Summer Young Writers Institute. I made some very close friends despite the short time we spent together, and I got to spend each day doing the thing I love the most – writing. And I learned new styles of writing, like screenwriting and villanelles, and I made new pieces in the process. I’ve emerged as both a better person, thanks to my friends, and a better writer, thanks to this program.
  • Beyond the vast amount I learned about writing, the connections and friendships that have been made here will be etched into my memory forever. My friends and I have already been talking about coming back next summer.
  • Being a part of this program has proven to be very helpful for my writing work. The classes and professors were very specific and detailed as to what makes a good story. The most amazing thing about this place was the food – just kidding! But that was really good too. I ended up making more friends than I expected. And all the free time was excellent – it allowed me to get so much work done. This program was only two weeks long but I could have stayed here for a month.
  • The people and the experiences I have had here are better than anything I have done in the past. My writing abilities have grown and my love for words is more apparent to me now than ever before. The teachers and the other students have really made this a memorable experience for me. Everyone here was so passionate about their writing! And they were all so willing to help out someone if they needed it. This has shown me how much writing actually means to me and how my words can truly touch someone. This has been an adventure I will never forget.
  • The Summer Young Writer’s Institute was a lovely experience that helped me grow as a writer. It was very inspirational, and I learned a lot here.
  • If for nothing else, come here for the 24/7 soft-serve ice cream.
  • This was such a wonderful and unique experience. I’m so grateful for this opportunity, and I can’t remember the last time that I was this happy. I met so many amazing people and had so much fun.
  • Being part of this Summer Young Writer’s Institute has been really amazing for me, both as a writer and as a person. I have never been with so many people who have such similar interests yet are so different that I can learn a lot from them. For the past two weeks or so, I have been treated as a writer, as someone who has something meaningful and important to say, and that has been an awesome experience that has cured a lot of my doubts about this craft of writing. The people are awesome, the teachers are amazing, and I am very happy that I got to come here.
  • This program is a healthy and constructive way to nurture your love for writing. It’s great that each form of writing gets its exclusive time each day. The teachers and students here are all very accepting, and they critique so well. There is time for work and there is time for fun with your dorm-mates. It is an experience that you can benefit from professionally and socially. This program can be – or feel – a bit intense at times, but that just means it’s a good challenge. Also, living in dorms with other writers is a fun experience.
  • While the beginning of my time here was not entirely as I had hoped, it got better over time for the most part. People were accepting of everyone’s work, and in my time here I became more and more comfortable sharing my work. I found that I would sometimes even be excited to share my work in class because it was such a great environment in which to do so. I also met people who enjoyed writing as much as I do, and we would sometimes help each other with our work. Overall, there were many aspects of this program I enjoyed. It was fun. 
  • I think I learned a lot here about writing that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. There was a lot of trying new things. For example, I had never written a screenplay, dramatic monologue, or a play, but I’ve always wanted to, and I got the chance to try them here and I’m glad I did. This program has given me confidence in my own writing and, at the same time, has shown me that I have a lot more to learn.
  • My time at the New York State Summer Young Writers Institute has not only taught me how to further enhance my skills as a writer, but it has also taught me how to give and to receive feedback. I have learned from many other young writers in this program, and my writing has improved over the past two weeks by listening to other writers’ work and by experimenting with many different forms of writing. My time here has been transformative, and the skills I have learned are ones I am going to keep with me forever.
  • Honestly, at first, I didn’t think spending two weeks upstate would dramatically impact my writing. How wrong I was! Now even the way I read pieces of writing has changed. I never would have been given the opportunity to write and write nearly all day long anywhere else. I have been surrounded by so many other people who love to write as well. I know I will never forget what I have learned here.
  • My first week at the New York State Summer Young Writers Institute was, to put it bluntly, rough. I hadn’t made many friends and I felt like my writing was terrible compared to my peers. But with time, I made a small group of friends and slowly began to feel more confident in my writing abilities. We explored new genres that I had never written in and I discovered that I really like playwriting. I’m glad I was a part of the NYSSYWI and I hope I can keep the connections I made while I was here.
  • This program is amazing! The professors are all so kind and encouraging. You get experience in all different styles and forms of literature. However, I think the best part of the program is the students. Everyone wants to be here, they really try their best, and give each class their all. It’s a very supportive environment, the type of place where you get the opportunity to share in a community of writers. The New York State Summer Young Writers Institute is truly a one-of-a-kind experience.
  • At the New York State Summer Young Writers Institute, I finally met my people: creative-minded, kind, funny, and interesting kids who I could spend all my time with. From sharing our pieces out loud to playing games after dinner, I loved hanging out with the other writers. I created some lifelong friendships. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed harder in my life.
  • I’ve definitely seen a shift in myself during these past two weeks. The first few days, I spent classes staring at the clock, waiting to get out. I got to my room and finished homework as quickly as I could, not really paying attention to the words I was writing or the stories I was creating. But after about a week, I started spending classes laughing and telling my friends at home about funny stories I had heard. I spent lunches wanting to hear from my new friends. I woke up and, even though I strongly dislike mornings, I loved waking up in my room with a sense of independence. I only wrote two poems during the first week, but I’ve written five new poems just in the past few days. My sudden increase in writing is because of how inspired and surrounded with writing I am. I’ve definitely felt homesick at times, but I’ve also definitely spent way more time almost crying from laughter, speed-writing poems, and brainstorming stories.
  • This has been an important social and learning experience for me. The friendships I’ve made here are some of the closest and most trusting ones I have ever made. They have shown me support and compassion and understanding that I have never really felt before. It has been very useful to be surrounded by so many like-minded people with whom I could collaborate and felt sure enough to share my work with. I learned a lot about myself and about others during these two weeks that I don’t think I would have otherwise. The relationships I have made here will be lasting and I’m very grateful for this.
  • It’s amazing how drastically my writing ability has evolved and grown in these two weeks. Being here, surrounded by amazing teachers and students, has allowed me to do what I love in a comforting and supportive environment. I wish I could stay here forever.
  • I came into this bitter, as per usual. I was homesick the moment my dad left me alone in the dorm and apprehensive about making friends who I figured would all be the same. I was defensive. Reserved. Over time, though, I realized I had so much in common with these kids. There was something so indescribably wonderful about meeting kids from all over the country who came here because they like to write. Such an intimate setting made for fast bonding. I have grown closer to people from Philly, from New Jersey, and from New York City in two weeks than I have where I live in Rhode Island. I have developed such a loving and accepting group of friends here that I look forward to spending time with every morning. I never had close friends like this at home, and it’s a wonderful feeling that everybody deserves to experience. I have never felt more comfortable and more welcomed by other kids – young adults – and it has inspired me to work hard. This program, despite being just two weeks, has helped me grow as a writer and a person and has helped prepare me for college life. This is something I will be eternally grateful for.
  • I was unsure of how much people would like or appreciate my writing before coming here. When I write, I am very vulnerable, and I often feel the need to compare my pieces and my writing style with others. However, since being part of the New York State Summer Young Writers Institute, I have learned to push myself to share my writing even when I don’t want to. Every time I read, I was nervous because I felt like everyone else’s pieces were much better than mine, but people were always extremely supportive and gave me helpful feedback on my work. When I first arrived here, I wasn’t sure how well I would fit into this group of people but now I realize that I’ve found some really great friends and writers in everyone. I’m going to miss the creative and vibrant energy in this place, and I know everyone will do great things.
  • The New York State Summer Young Writers Institute was quite possibly two of the best weeks of my life. I learned so much from the professors, and discovered a love of poetry I didn’t know I had. I was able to write and to engage in my work in a way that I could never do in school. But most importantly, this Institute gave me a family. We all came from different backgrounds, with different talents, but were able to come together through our love for writing. From game nights in the basement to running in the rain to the dorms, I’ve made memories here that I will never forget. I love the campus, the staff, and the people who made every day an adventure. Thank you.
  • It really was awesome – unlike any other program I’ve been to. I made lots of friends who shared my passion and was basically given two weeks to write to my heart’s content. Seriously, before this, I had never tried screenwriting or playwriting and now I have, so that’s cool. I’ve written more stories and more poetry here, and I’ve gotten lots of ideas. I’d like to think that my writing has improved as well. Unfortunately, I am a senior, so this year is probably my first and my last time here, but I’ll carry these wonderful memories and experiences with me. Wow, that sounded really sappy, didn’t it?
  • What my time at the New York State Summer Young Writers Institute has meant to me – a fine question, I suppose. A better question might be, why is this guy’s handwriting so bad? But to answer your question, my time here has felt like a free trial for college life – the freedom, the lack of responsibility (not a bad thing!), the homesickness (quite bad!). Here, I felt at least a little alive, like I could do whatever I wanted. If your intention was to combine a lite-school system with a home-like environment, you didn’t fail. 

    At the same time, though, I did miss my family and my x-box – for the record, I am most definitely someone who doesn’t invest in material possessions, and it made me invest in my future – and to think that in three or four years, this is how I’ll be living. Makes a guy think. But enough of that. As I once said after eating a full tub of ice cream, “Man, I could really use a healthy diet.”

  • I loved it. This program helped me expand my writing and my thoughts, as well as getting me to work on the complexity of my language. Kathi helped me understand the meaning of show, don’t tell. I was also taught (by, I think, Elaine), that you can’t show everything. Some things you can only tell. In other words, it’s trade-off. I was also shown how to compose interesting dialogue that can come out of a vivid character that a reader can relate to. Aside from the writing itself, I was treated as an equal by Bob, Elaine, Bill, Kathi, and Richard. I was told that the only thing separating me from these teachers was experience. It wasn’t that I was less talented or less skilled – it was simply the matter of experience – and that gave me hope that I was talented enough to learn and experience just like all my teachers had. The program gave me confidence to grow as a writer and to enjoy my writing.
  • The energy in the New York State Summer Young Writers Institute classes was an experience like no other. I’ve learned to feel my emotions and experience words more deeply here. This is a nurturing environment where there is no competition – only support from your peers and the teachers. We are viewed more as young colleagues than as students by the teachers, and that gives us the freedom to think and write freely. Not to mention that it also makes you feel respected and important. The lifelong friends I’ve made, and the unforgettable advice I’ve received, have made this place more than worthwhile.