Submission Guidelines

Journal of Creative Writing Studies (JCWS) is an academic journal. We publish research and scholarship on the subject of creative writing. We do not publish works in any of the four genres of creative writing. We are looking for articles that are well written, well researched, theoretically grounded, and connected to current conversations in the field.

Submissions should be no longer than 10,000 words, including Works Cited and Notes, and should be accompanied by a 100-word abstract. JCWS uses MLA Style citations.

While most JCWS articles are converted to PDFs for easy download, we can also publish articles as web pages, allowing authors to employ video, audio, image, or other digital media. Multimodal/multimedia work should include a one-page written summary of the form and content of the media used. Such submissions should follow the style guide established by Digital Humanities Quarterly (DHQ), which we refer to here with the editors' permission.

We expect that all submitted research will conform to the highest standards of ethical conduct as outlined by the Institutional Review Board of the scholar’s home university. This includes obtaining consent from human subjects (i.e. students, colleagues, or other people) prior to conducting your research.

We do occasionally issue Calls For Papers on special topics; however, we are always open to submissions in the sections below. The interests of these sections often overlap, and some submissions may be relevant to more than one of the sections below. Authors of such articles should be assured that their subject is of interest to JCWS and that the General Editors will direct their paper to an appropriate section.

  1. Research: Qualitative and Quantitative
  2. Social Action
  3. Theory, Culture, and Craft
  4. Diversity and Inclusion
  5. History
  6. Pedagogy
  7. Professionalization and Labor
  8. Digital and Multimedia/Multimodal
  9. Reviews
  10. Reprints/Rethinks


The Research section of JCWS publishes articles that investigate the practice, pedagogy, and history of creative writing based on empirical research. We are also open to receiving work that is grounded in research while also challenging the assumptions and conventions of academic discourse in narrative, lyrical, dramatic, avant-garde, theoretical, or meta-theoretical modes. Additionally, we are interested in submissions that interrogate the definition and practice of creative writing research itself.
Submissions to the Research section of JCWS should demonstrate an understanding of previous scholarship on the subject under investigation and should aim to create new knowledge and/or challenge disciplinary conceptions and practices. Articles based solely on the author’s own experience may be appropriate if they are the results of well-defined action research.
We are interested in submissions drawing on a variety of research approaches including:

  1. archival research
  2. qualitative research, including case studies, ethnographies, phenomenographic studies, and textual analyses
  3. quantitative research, including surveys,  questionnaires, Q methodology, and experimental studies
  4. practice-led research
  5. fictocriticism
  6. mixed-methods research

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The Social Action section of JCWS grapples with questions such as what is creative writing’s impact on the world? and what are specific community and academic programs doing that highlight this impact? For example, Cal State Monterey Bay’s program in Creative Writing and Social Action reinvents the writing workshop as a form of community outreach. Eve Ensler’s V-Day campaign seeks to end violence against women while raising funds for women’s shelters across the globe. The Yes Men’s interventionist theater relies on multi- and mass-media platforms to demand corporate accountability for unethical business practices. As these examples suggest, diverse approaches to creative writing link the art of the word with consequential actions in the world. In this section of JCWS, we are looking for work that examines this very relationship: the connection between creative writing and its role in the public sphere. More specifically, we seek scholarly essays that reveal how creative writing is being used to engender social change, promote community activism, or intervene in culture in ways that reconnect poetics and politics, form and function, innovation and action, play and protest, artfulness and utility. 
Subjects for consideration might include creative writing and/as

  1. activism
  2. service learning
  3. social justice
  4. community partnership
  5. culture jamming
  6. philanthropy/social work
  7. political practice
  8. propaganda
  9. human/animal rights
  10. institutional reform
  11. environmentalism and sustainability

The editors also welcome the following:

  1. histories of creative writing and social action
  2. studies of the social, cultural, and material effects of individual or collective authors
  3. analyses of creative writing and social action in the context of race, class, and gender

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For years, creative writers have taught "craft" as if it were a transparent set of values—fixed and universally agreed-upon in how it defines a particular genre.  But creative writing is always embedded in particular cultural, aesthetic, critical, and (often) institutional contexts. The Theory, Culture, and Craft section focuses on work that investigates the relationship between authors and these respective contexts, particularly as it stands to theoretically ground creative writing studies in the humanities at large and to further enrich what we talk about when we talk about "craft." This section of the JCWS identifies craft as always in process and always affected by its particular rhetorical circumstances. With this in mind, the editors welcome articles that:

  1. explore theoretically grounded approaches toward craft and/or craft criticism
  2. address gaps in the theoretical account of creative writing studies and practice
  3. analyze how aesthetic trends, institutionalization, cultural and rhetorical contexts, and critical theory inform the field of creative writing
  4. explore the material, social, cultural, and institutional forces at work on the production of imaginative texts

Submissions should demonstrate relevance to the larger connections creative writing shares with neighboring fields of cultural studies and/or critical theory and engage with existent scholarship. Authors are encouraged to explore the production of imaginative texts through such links.

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Although JCWS as a whole is committed to supporting submissions in all sections by writers from multiple perspectives, this section is specifically devoted to work that directly address race, ability, culture, class, language, and gender/sexuality difference as experienced and studied in the creative writing academic arena. Topics might include:

  1. thriving in PhD, MFA, and undergraduate programs as an “other”
  2. observations/reflections on workshop or peer-review dynamics and conflicts related to issues of difference
  3. pedagogy and praxis for supporting multiple identities and perspectives creatively
  4. technology and reading accessibility in creative writing classrooms
  5. case studies of inclusive teaching
  6. addressing diversity issues in the workshop and on the page
  7. administrative actions concerning diversity and inclusion
  8. academic status and paradigms; writing creatively in academia as an act of privilege
  9. adjunct and tenure politics as they concern issues of difference
  10. authority, identity, and power in creative writing studies
  11. history and current state of diversity and inclusion in academic creative writing settings
  12. the rise of the culture-specific writing retreat vs. the MFA
  13. globalization and immigration in the creative writing classroom
  14. code-switching, language, and literacy for non-traditional writers and readers

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The History section of the JCWS welcomes articles exploring the histories of creative writing and: individuals, groups, and communities; institutions (broadly defined); and texts related to creative writing as a process, taught subject, or cultural practice. We seek to address gaps in the historical account of creative writing, expanding beyond the known stories of origin to include unknown moments in the evolution of creative writing, both inside and outside formal school settings. The History section will also consider historiographic studies which examine how we research and relay the histories of creative writing.
Authors are encouraged to examine histories of imaginative literate practice both in and outside the United States, from any time period and geographic location, including periods and locations in which the term “creative writing” was not used per se. We seek essays that make use of a range of research methods including archival studies, interview, and textual analysis.

We are interested in:

  1. definitions and controversies
  2. explorations of creative writing historiography
  3. developments in pedagogy
  4. changes in articulation
  5. publication and methods of circulation
  6. developments in genre
  7. cultural perception / reception of creative writing
  8. explorations of socio-economic issues of class, gender, and race
  9. reconfigurations of known histories

We discourage the submission of biographies of individual creative writers and literary analysis although we are interested in historical accounts of individual creative writing instructors and theorists--those who have been involved in the instruction, advancement, or production of creative writing. Articles should demonstrate relevance to the larger story of creative writing or its instruction and engage with existent scholarship.

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The Pedagogy section operates under with two key premises: Creative writing can be taught, and creative writing studies offers a rich historical and theoretical grounding for pedagogical practices that move beyond mere anecdotal teaching techniques and lore. We seek articles on creative writing pedagogies that offer both a theoretical and historical background as well as practical applications to engage and reinvigorate the creative process for both students and teachers. We also welcome articles that advance and enlarge theoretical perspectives for creative writing pedagogy scholarship.

We seek articles that:

  1. build and sustain compelling conversations around pedagogical issues surrounding teaching and creative writing studies pedagogies
  2. draw on research and theories from a broad range of humanistic disciplines while maintaining creative writing studies as its own scholarly enterprise
  3. address students and teachers who engage in creative writing practices in a variety of spaces—secondary, first-year, upper-division courses, community-based, and graduate
  4. deploy various critical lenses to articulate pedagogical practices

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Teaching creative writing in the university or college intersects employment and institutional issues that often go unexamined. These issues include:
  1. adjunct/contingent or professorial status, including power relations based on category or status
  2. exploitative and/or uneven workloads, including size and number of courses
  3. pay equity of multiple kinds (e.g., salary, stipend, thesis project teaching credit, course release)
  4. professional development opportunities
  5. teacher training particular to creative writing graduate students
  6. diversity requirements (or lack thereof)
  7. co-curricular offerings, including interdisciplinary and off-campus partnerships
  8. pros and cons of overlaps with rhetoric/composition and literature programs/methodologies
  9. challenges to funding for arts and humanities programs (and concomitant administrative demands for changes)
  10. faculty and program assessment methodologies
  11. work-life balance, including conflicts between teaching and writing demands

The editors of the Professionalization and Labor section seek essays that move beyond the anecdotal but we respect personal experience as a basis for analysis.

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JCWS’ Digital and Multimodal/Multimedia section seeks critical pieces that address creative writing as it intersects with digital and multimodal/multimedia concerns and contexts. We welcome the examination of, and engagement with, changes in the technologies--especially digital technologies--that affect the composition, publication, and distribution of creative writing of all genres.

Topics might include but are not limited to:

  1. uses of digital tools in creative writing [CW] classrooms and pedagogy
  2. CW digital experiments that worked or failed
  3. how CW overlaps with other modes and genres such as video games and code
  4. how creative writers design interactive and haptic pieces
  5. uses of digital tools in CW classrooms and pedagogy
  6. how digital contexts change and complicate issues of publication and copyright
  7. documentation of CW digital installations in social media and other digitally interactive platforms
  8. documentation of CW communities of practice that connect in digital spaces

Both text-only and multimodal pieces are welcome. We encourage collaborative authorship.

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JCWS publishes reviews of recent books and projects that are of interest to authors, teachers, and scholars of creative writing. Reviewed titles may include craft-criticism, theory, pedagogy, history, and research that contribute to conversations about creative writing praxis. JCWS does not publish reviews of creative works. Single reviews are generally 1,500 words. Review essays, which synthesize two to four titles, are approximately 2,500 words. If you are interested in writing a review or wish to suggest a title, contact book review editor Janelle Adsit (Janelle.adsit@humboldt.edu).
Publishers may submit books and projects for review consideration to:

Janelle Adsit
Department of English
Humboldt State University
1 Harpst Street
Arcata, CA 95521

While anyone may suggest a book or project for review, JCWS will select reviewers that have no personal relationship with the editors or authors of the work.

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The senior editors will entertain reprinting previously published pieces, either from journals or book chapters, that relate to any of the sections above. Authors must include a short introductory explanation of why the piece merits reprinting (reprints) as well as any reflections, amendments, or retractions they have on the piece as it was originally printed (rethinks).
The author is solely responsible for obtaining any and all rights from the original publisher. JCWS will need written proof that this consent has been obtained prior to publishing any reprint.