Writers’ centres are important establishments to be a part of, as they provide a social element to an industry that can feel very isolating at times. Writing need not be a lonely endeavour, and when you’re feeling out of touch with the rest of the literary world, joining a writers’ centre can be the answer to your writing woes. If you’re in the Wollongong region, you should definitely get around the South Coast Writers Centre.
What is the SCWC?
The South Coast Writers Centre is a not-for-profit organisation that holds professional programs and social events for writers and readers, creating a community of like-minded people in the Illawarra/Wollongong regions of NSW. They’re supported by Arts NSW, Wollongong City Council and the University of Wollongong, and will be moving their premises into the UOW campus in early 2015.
The centre is run by a small number of dedicated people who have been involved in the industry for a number of years, as well as interns and volunteers, all helping to keep the SCWC on its feet and support writers and readers from all stages.
What does the centre offer to writers?
The SCWC run and support various regular workshops and groups that meet every week to discuss and share poetry and fiction. Engaging with others about writing is a great way to become excited and inspired about your own work, and these groups provide a platform, not only for furthering your reading and writing, but for friendships as well.
The centre constantly support and advertise upcoming events around the south coast, from the recent Wollongong Writers Festival in October 2014 and the Rocket Readings as part of the Sydney Writers Festival, to book launches and open mic nights. Upcoming events include the Black Wallaby Indigenous Writers' Night on May 22 2015, launching the second volume of Dreaming Inside. Anyone is welcome at these events, and it’s a great way to get involved in the industry and meet your contemporaries.
Apart from writing workshops, the SCWC also runs writing panels and day courses throughout the year. Here emerging writers and established authors are brought together and you can learn from others’ experiences while perfecting skills. The centre also has quiet places where you can write and read on your own, away from the hassles of the world.
They are also able to provide members with resources and information about the writing and publishing industry, so if you’re ever unsure about how to find an agent or an editor, or even what you should read next, they can point you in the right direction.
In 2012, the South Coast Writers Centre started an internship program to provide professional development to tertiary level creative writing/creative arts students from the University of Wollongong. In collaboration with the Faculty of Laws Humanities and the Arts and the Faculty of Commerce at UOW, interns get training in practical skills pertaining to an arts organisation, such as the SCWC.
An opportunity such as this is a nice transition from studies to a profession in the arts industry, being immersed in a dynamic creative environment where students learn to think critically about the arts, about history, and about contemporary life.
How to get involved
Becoming a member of the South Coast Writers Centre allows you to get the inside scoop on upcoming events, jobs and competitions through their newsletter and quarterly publication, which are easily accessed online. There are also discounts on professional development courses and workshops for members, as well as special invitations to readings and launches.
You can also submit book reviews, enter competitions and apply for initiatives run by the centre, including their ‘Writer of the Month’ position. Putting yourself out there through comps and online features is a great way to increase your web presence and become an active part of the writing community.
The centre also sells books written by members and authors from the south coast, and purchasing these is a great way to support our industry as well as independent publishers and self-published authors. It's all about good karma and learning more about the writers and readers around you.
For those outside of the south coast or even the state, you can still follow the SCWC on Facebook and Twitter with @SCWCentre, as well as their blog, to keep up to date with industry news and inspiring notions.