The Internet Writing Workshop's History
The Internet Writing Workshop (IWW) administrators are very proud that
this writers' workshop is the oldest continuous writers' group on the
Internet. Over the years, there have been many changes, especially changes
in ownership. The basic design of the workshop, though (writers send in
submissions for critique by other writers), has remained constant.
According to Perry Caro, a founding member, the workshop was started in
late 1986 by Chuq Von Rospach. At that time, it was known as the
Science Fiction Writers List. It lasted a bit over two years when it nearly
collapsed due to flaming.
Perry Metzger took over administration of the "Science Fiction Writers List"
in 1989, resurrected it, and administered it for a short period. Then he lost
computing resources. Yes, back in '89, we actually could lose our computing
Doug Roberts stepped in late '89. The name of the list was changed to
"Writers List," and it began to move away from strictly science fiction.
In 1990, Doug added the Novels list. The machine that hosted this list was
called "studguppy"--thus the informal appellation Studguppies (referring to
list members). This was a very happy and productive time for us.
In 1992, our name was changed to the Internet Fiction Writers Workshop under
the administration of Doug Helbling. He remained in charge only one year when
Christopher Mark Conn came on board. Conn was able to hook the list up with
Listserv at Penn State. The existing lists were renamed to "Writing," the
discussion list, and "Fiction," for submission of fiction of any length.
At this point, internet use was growing significantly, particularly when AOL
came online. Membership more than blossomed. The Internet, it seemed, was here
The rest of this history is written by Lani Kraus (with a great deal of input
from Rhéal Nadeau.)
Rhéal Nadeau became the Workshop owner, and changed our name to Internet Writers
Workshop. The workshop expanded dramatically, and new policies were implemented.
For the first time, the list had a minimum participation requirement, which was
very controversial at first. By the end of 1993, Rhéal added three new lists:
NFiction, Poetry-W, and Novels-L. The fiction list was now designated for short
In 1993, other policies were developed. Well, since Rhéal ran the thing by himself,
he could develop any policy he wanted. But, being the good guy he is, he wrote the
"Guidelines for Prospective Members" and the workshop FAQ, then proceeded to
administer the list fairly and evenhandedly.
During this period, Gayle Surrette was operating her own workshop for writers of
children's literature: YAWrite. Recognizing the redundancy in efforts, she brought her
workshop into the Internet Writing Workshop, making YAWrite the fourth IWW list.
In 1994, Rhéal invited Lani Kraus to assist him in administering the Novels workshop.
Several weeks later, he found another active member to become the administrator of
At about this time, the workshop ran into a problem of "noise-to-signal ratio"
on the Writing List. More and more messages were personal in nature rather than
writing-related. Granted, the friendships developed changed this from a mailing
list to a true community of writers. Such a dilemma! Deb Shinder, a dynamic
list member, solved the problem by creating WritingChat, a separate list for
personal chit-chat and friendships. Now called the Writing list, it became a more focused group
without sacrificing friendships.
The Workshop continued to grow. Script-W was added in 1995. In 1995, Rhéal
decided to "retire" as the administrator. Lani took over the job for the
next 2-1/2 years.
Under Lani's ownership, more new lists were added: TeenWrite (developed by
Shayla Mollohan, Nature-W, and FemWrite (which each lasted about 1 year),
Lovestory-L (for romance writers, developed by Sandra Smith), and Prose-P
for flash fiction and prose poetry. Lani also created the initial web site
for the Workshop, including the Showcase of many of the successes in the group.
The sub-groups were all administered by different individuals, so administration
of the Workshop became a full-fledged team effort. The TeenWrite list survived
for five years until it was finally shut down because the kids grew up.
In 1998, Lani semi-retired, and Rhéal reassumed primary ownership of the
In January, 2001, Lani and Rhéal joined forces to create the "Practice-W"
list, a mailing list for writing lessons and assignments. It has since proven
to be one of our most popular lists.
In September of 2005, Rhéal created our first web page,
In June of 2006, Greg Gunther, the workshop's Technical Support Volunteer
since 1996, took over the workshop's leadership, allowing Rhéal to focus on his
busy life with his family, work, and passion for dog agility training. One of
Greg's first jobs in this new role was to expand the website, including
instructions for joining the workshop and pages to provide answers and
instructions for members' most common requests.
Like Lani, Rhéal still hangs around, available for ideas, support, and
At this time (summer, 2008), the workshop consists of 13 lists serving
approximately 400 members from around the world. The composition of the
list is constantly changing as new members come on board and experienced
members move on.
The next chapter of the History will be written when something new and
Thanks for your interest.
Web site created by
Rhéal Nadeau and
the administrators of the Internet Writing Workshop.
Modified by Gayle Surrette.