The Creative Writing Club at UVU has received sufficient clearance that the final stages of planning and the first stages of action are now upon us. To facilitate those efforts, this page will provide documentation on the plans and policies of the Creative Writing Club (CWC).
This segment contains an overview of the club’s purpose and place within the broader student community at UVU.
The CWC is a student organization that aims to:
1) Create a positive, productive, enjoyable community of writers;
2) Help writers refine their craft; and
3) Create an environment that stimulates and encourages creativity.
Brief: The CWC will focus on positive, enjoyable social events centered around the club mission.
While education—and specifically the improvement of the craft of student writers—is a major part of the club, the primary mode of club events focuses on the social element. The belief is that by creating social bonds between students who share a passion for creative writing, the elevation of craft will happen organically. As such, one of the major priorities of CWC events is to ensure that students can have fun.
While the club may also pursue other objectives (work with the literary journals on campus, providing leadership opportunities for students, engage in community outreach, etc.), events and organization will be centered around the core mission.
Brief: Students will not be pitched the educational value of the club. Rather, the CWC will work to support and affirm those who self-identity as writers. In this vein, the CWC will use a social mechanism to help students forge strong connection with a community of writers.
Events themselves will have educational aspect but will remain primarily social. Through these strong social ties and the organizational framework of the club itself, the CWC will facilitate student-driven pursuits such as workshopping, editing, and event attendance.
The Identity Pitch:
Students do not join clubs because they are interested in additional, uncredited work. Further, while some students join organizations for the sake of expanding their CVs, these students tend to be the ones with low or inconsistent participation. Students with high participation are the ones who see the club as supporting an element, not of their academic success, but of their core identity.
The selection of the name “Creative Writing Club,” as well as the narrow focus on creative writing activities, is not careless; it’s important in the club’s spread and success because the currency of all clubs boils down to identity. “Creative Writers” is the broadest level that successfully matches an identity that students connect with in an intimate way.
People will not join this club simply because it is useful and fun: They will join because being a writer is part of who they are.
Social vs Educational:
The CWC’s core concept is that participating students already want to write, improve their craft, and learn more about the writing process. However, most creative writing students are already under a full workload, and many already have substantial production goals as part of their coursework. As such, events focusing on creating a positive community will have greater appeal and stronger impact.
This does not meant that there will not be an educational element. However, past events from similar organizations have shown that any additional coursework (e.g., reading or writing) that takes place outside of the event itself is likely to be completed by only a small portion of the group. It may also have served as a disincentive for attendance (i.e., those who didn’t complete the work felt they may as well not bother to attend).
The social connections forged in the club, beyond their inherent value, serve as a continued incentive for club attendance and participation: The more connected students feel to the community, the more the club will serve as a way to replenish rather than draining their resources.
Framework and Facilitation
While the club may serve to directly fulfill many student needs, the more important goal is to facilitate the pursuits the students choose for themselves. By helping to build strong social connections and provide organizational support, the CWC will help students pursue workshopping, editing, collaborative work, event attendance, and more.
These extra-extra-curricular activities will be facilitated by the club wherever possible. In large part, this will be accomplished naturally through the club’s open communication channels (e.g., a Facebook page, suggestions for events to post on a club newsletter, etc.). The club will also attempt to barter for improved prices / group rates if large portions of the club are interested in attending specific events.
For many regular extra-extra-curricular activities, such as book groups or workshops, the club will provide additional support. See “non-event offerings” for further details.
Brief: The CWC will not attempt to address non–creative writing elements of the English department. However, the club will work actively to support any student organizations that seek to address these other interests.
In the past, professors at UVU have encouraged similar student organizations to take on a more expansive role that includes students from all sectors of the English department. Among other concerns, these professors want to help prevent the divide frequent seen between literature and creative students. This division is further entrenched by club divisions such as the one being made with the Creative Writing Club.
Nevertheless, there are several reasons why the club is not attempting to adopt this expansive strategy. These include the identity pitch (discussed previously), a legitimate difference in interests, and a desire to narrow the club’s breadth so its depth can be increased. A “strategy of everything” prevents such depth, complicates the promotion of the club, and decreases the overall appeal of the club itself.
While the club hopes to serve as an important pillar of UVU’s broader English-department community, the club is not concerned with non–creative writing elements of the English department. However, should a separate English-focused club (e.g., Literature Club, Young Editors Club, etc.) form at UVU, the CWC would work actively to forge connections, spread word about the new club, work cooperatively for events that may appeal to students in both groups, and otherwise work to support the new club.
We will also pursue cooperative work with other departments (for example, work with the theater department for a screen-writing event), but any CWC event will be centered around the core mission of the club. Should other clubs seek out assistance or support from the CWC, we will actively work to provide that support.
At this early stage, it’s difficult to define precise goals for the next semesters. However, some general goals can be established. In the coming months, the CWC aims to:
- Set up organizational infrastructure to aid club communication.
- Establish the Creative Writing Club as a recognized group on campus.
- Reach an average club attendance of 8+.
- Have 25+ officially registered club members.
As an academic institution that’s been around for decades, UVU has a history of creative writing communities too long and complex to go over here. However, the recent history of UVU’s creative writing communities deserves attention.In Fall of 2011, Ammon Medina and David Rummler co-founded the English Club at UVU, having recognized that no student organization for creative writing existed at the school. They were encouraged to make the goals and appeal of the club as expansive as was possible.A solid core of students developed for the English Club, but some debate arose as to the exact direction and name of that club. Many factors played into the eventual choices made by that club, but in Fall of 2012 Cherise Jenkins took on a leading position in the club; she officially became club president in Spring of 2013.Cherise continued a policy of presenting the club as an expansive organization, but club events centered around literature had already been unsuccessful while other non–creative writing events showed diminished turnout.
A solid core of 3 to 5 students attended the club events on a regular basis. Some major English Club events, including the reading and workshop with guest speaker Melanie Rae Thon, showed strong success. By and large, however, the club saw dwindling turnout—with many of the original club participants losing interest due to the club’s direction—and the club seemed to continue a trend toward remaining a club with strong limitations on reach and appeal. The reputation of the club reflected both the more expansive club values and an expectation of low event turnout.
Starting in Summer of 2012, Rob D Young made efforts to establish the Creative Writing Club according to the values he felt would best support the UVU creative writing community. This included early and continued work with Cherise Jenkins to ensure that any steps made on his part would effectively support UVU’s creative writing community. After extended discussion, Cherise and Rob agreed that the best course of action was to retire the English Club in favor of a Creative Writing Club.
Why This Isn’t the English Club
The possibility of continuing and supporting the English Club—or even re-structuring and re-naming the English Club to suit the standards of the Creative Writing Club—has been brought up by more than one interested party.
The identity pitch (discussed previously) is one of the core reasons why the Creative Writing Club name and focus are important. Further, a continuation as the English Club would associate the new club with a reputation of low event turnout and an expansive set of values that does not reflect the more focused values of the CWC. Stepping away from this reputation and supporting a set of values that is distinct from that supported by the English Club makes a continuation as the English Club less viable.
The possibility of re-naming and re-structuring the previous club (the next standard proposition) is difficult from a policy standpoint; re-chartering the club under a new name but as a continuation of the old club would be a challenging process that required special approval. Further, this re-named version of the previous club would not be eligible for certain club awards that may help to establish the CWC in future years.
The CWC will also have a student-driven core; it will be a student-run organization that aims to benefit the UVU creative writing community. The English Club set a high priority on the goals and vision of English department professors and broader departmental goals. While the CWC’s efforts may frequently involve supporting the goals of professors and the English department as a whole, the CWC emphasizes the importance of student empowerment in student organizations. Stepping away from the English Club name helps to clarify the separation from the English department and the professors who were directly involved with the English Club.
The CWC is different because its mission, focus, events, leadership, and structure are different.Here are a few key ways the Creative Writing Club is different from the English Club:
- The English Club was strongly tied to the goals of the English department and its professors. The Creative Writing Club is a student-driven organization.
- The English Club attempted to address the needs of all elements of the English department (i.e., literature, editing, publishing, academic writing, and creative writing). The Creative Writing Club is focused only on creative writing pursuits.
- The English Club used events for workshopping and reading work. The Creative Writing Club facilitates students who wish to pursue this extra-extra-curricular work, but events do not require additional outside work.
- While both the English Club and Creative Writing Club worked to help writers refine their craft, the Creative Writing Club’s focus is far more social.
- Anticipated attendance at CWC events is substantially higher than the standard attendance of EC events.
Similar events between the CWC and this former club will include open mic nights and guest authors. English Club events that the CWC does not have similarities with include all literature-based events, events focused toward editors or publishers, academic writing events, and workshops.
CWC events that differ substantially from EC events include but are not limited to movie events where popular media will be used to explore writing concepts; nights of writing games and exercises; fundraising for NPOs that work to eradicate illiteracy; special events such as the “Poetic License” event (details above); and work with community groups to host events such as poetry slam.
What’s Been Done
In his work since Summer of 2012, Rob has made some basic structural steps for the club. This includes:
- The purchase and basic setup of this domain (UVUCreativeWriting.com).
- The writing of an initial draft of the club constitution (see below).
- The development of this document.
- The setup of a email list of interested members.
- Networking to find those interested in being officers.
- Finding a faculty advisor.
- Working with English-department faculty to help find connections to interested creative writing students.
As of this writing, 12 people (beyond the club president) have expressed a specific interest in taking on the role of officer in the club, though the exact degree of availability for each of these candidates is currently uncertain. As these 12 individuals were found through existing connections and the discussion of the club in a single summer class, it’s anticipated that more potential officers will be found.
Specific contributors to the club’s success will include Ammon Medina and Heather Duncan. Participation from Cherise Jenkins (soon to have a new last name) is also hoped for. Many of the other candidates have a great deal to offer, and their names will be included once their roles are made official and their availability and commitment have been more fully evaluated.
Given only the known officers of the club, the connections within UVU and to the broader community are still impressive. Organizations that we have “ins” with include:
- Salt City Indie Arts
- Touchstones (UVU Literary Journal)
- Intersections (UVU Literary Journal)
- BYU creative writing organizations
- The Creative Writing Collective (see special note in V.iii)
- Utah State Poetry Society
III. Club Specifics and Plan of Action
While many details of the upcoming semesters are unknown, some initial ideas and some “pillar events” are outlined here to give a more concrete idea of what the club and its events will look like.
Information on the following events is coming soon:
- Lars and the Real Girl event
- Poetry 101 event
- Open Mic Nights
- Utah Valley Poetry Slam
Information on the following is coming soon:
- Workshop facilitation
- The Creative Writing Club card
Information on the following is coming soon:
- Club Rush
- Doubling theory
- Ad ideas
- Digital signage
Information on the following is coming soon:
- Club bazaar
- Lit journal fundraising
Information on the following is coming soon:
- Fundraising for an NPO that works to eradicate illiteracy.
V. The Future of the Club and Community
Potential Hurdles and Pitfalls
Opportunities and Potential
VI. Club Constitution
The full club constitution is coming soon.