Writer Development Program

The Austin Stone Institute’s Writer Development Program (in person and online) trains writers to create compelling work for the glory of God and the flourishing of people. Through writing in multiple genres, in a collaborative cohort environment, program participants are equipped to write what is good, beautiful, and true in their particular contexts—whether that’s the boardroom, classroom, or home. 

  • Program Length: September 2023–April 2024
  • Program Style: Cohort
  • Program Cost: $399 (in person)

If you want to learn to steward your writing, hone your craft, and grow in your faith in a collaborative and supportive community, apply for the Writer Development Program. Applicants to the in-person program need to be local to Central Texas. If you live outside the Austin metroplex, you can purchase access to our online program.

Who Should Apply for WriterDev?

We’re not looking for expert writers. We’re looking for people who are curious, humble, and hungry to grow in their faith. If you:

  • want to be a better teacher or public speaker, WriterDev will teach you to organize your ideas so that they can be understood by an audience.
  • want to take your next steps with a short story, novel, devotional, serial blog, or newsletter, WriterDev will train you to write clearly, compellingly, and beautifully.
  • want to add greater nuance to your fictional characters or nonfictional concepts, WriterDev will help you address complexity with clarity and kindness.
  • want to get better at giving and receiving feedback, WriterDev will give you critique skills that apply in any context.
  • want to grow in Christlikeness through the discipline of writing, WriterDev will require you to read and write and meet deadlines.

As writers, teachers, and thinkers who believe in Jesus, we have a calling to care for our words. With them, we can comfort the hurting, free the captive, give sight to the blind, and proclaim the good news of our great God, no matter if we’re writing a Bible study, a short story, or training materials for our employees. We can influence culture in life-giving ways through the thoughtful and compelling work of our minds, hearts, and hands. 

If any of that stirs your curiosity or imagination, we invite you to apply for the Writer Development Program!

Program Vision

Because the Writer Development Program trains writers to create compelling work for the glory of God and the flourishing of people, it emphasizes holistic formation. The program helps you learn truths about God and incorporate them into your writing. It emphasizes discipline through assignments and cohorts, both of which benefit your writing and spiritual life. Finally, the program instructors—experienced writers, teachers, and other industry professionals—cover a range of topics, from writing the first draft to revising the third, and from collaborating with others to giving and receiving feedback.

The robust nature of the Writer Development Program condenses a multi-year writing program into eight months. In those eight months, you will learn to refine your ideas, cross-train in multiple writing genres, establish a habit of reading and writing, critique and be critiqued in turn, and develop goals that nurture not only your ideas and plans but also your faith in Christ and your commitment to His people.

If all that sounds intriguing, apply for the Writer Development Program today!

Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve never really written before, but I want to learn to write. Is the Writer Development Program for me?

While we do ask all applicants to submit a 500-word writing sample, all skill levels are welcome to apply! Some basic knowledge of writing form and function will be helpful but isn't required.

Who should apply to the Writer Development Program?

The Writer Development Program is for adults over 18 years old. We strongly encourage applicants to have completed The Austin Stone Development Program or a similarly rigorous theological training program before participating in Writer Development, though it’s not required. Participants must commit to actively engaging in class and cohort discussions and to completing all assigned coursework. Participants must be local to the Austin area. If you’re interested but live outside Austin, please contact Lindsay Funkhouser.

Who do I contact with questions about the Writer Development Program?

Please email Erin Feldman with any specific questions not addressed on this page.

What does the program fee cover?

The program fee covers resources and costs associated with the program, such as facility rental, events, and curriculum. We never want finances to be an inhibitor of participation, so please contact Erin Feldman to discuss any concerns regarding the program fee.

How is the online Writer Development program different than the in-person program?

The online program (WriterDev Foundations) is a 10-session, self-paced condensed version of our in-person program geared toward those who would be unable to participate otherwise.

Unlike the in-person Writer Development Program, WriterDev Foundations doesn’t have an application period and is available for anyone to purchase. It also allows for students to interact with one another and with course leaders and to share work. Once you’ve purchased the course, the content is yours to go through as you like.

When is the application deadline for the program?

Our next application deadline will be 11:59pm on May 31, 2023. Applications open March 20, 2023.

Can you tell me more about the program structure?

The Writer Development Program is holistic in its approach. Regular rhythms include lecture-style teaching and interactive group sessions, individual assignments, and cohort critique. Be prepared to share your work with others and to give and receive feedback so that you can grow as a writer.

We'll also gather as a creative community at various times throughout the year for meetups with other writers and creatives, panels and writing-related discussions, meals, and events with the larger Austin creative community.

When will I receive a reply regarding my acceptance to the program?

You'll receive a confirmation email on receipt of your application. All applicants to the program will receive a final response regarding program acceptance by August 31, 2023.

Are there any opportunities for discounts or scholarships for the program?

In some cases, financial assistance is available. Participants interested in applying for a scholarship will be given an opportunity to complete a needs-based application upon the completion of the general program application.