“What Can You Pen?” 2015 Contest Results

After over 50 submissions and 2 rounds of judging, we’re excited to announce the winners for the third annual “What Can You Pen?” creative writing contest!

First, though, we’d like to give credit where credit is due. The following individuals and organizations were instrumental in helping us put on this year’s contest:

  • Westwind, for publishing the first-place winners and judging the preliminary round.
  • UCLA Professors Robert Watson, Brian Stefans, and Christopher Mott, for judging the final round.
  • Artists Jacqueline Mak, Monica Pan, Angela Hu, Autumn Chang, and Erin Sakaji, for illustrating the winning pieces as prizes.

Now, on to the winners:


First place: Rebecca Tang (“hair day”)

Second place: Nicole Penrod (“Prometheus”)

Honorable Mention: Lyndsey Silveira (“Odin the wandering recycling man”)



First Place: Annie Yu (“Jane”)

Second Place: Ari Reider (“The Comedian”)

Honorable Mention: Jessica Waite (“Something Good Can Work”)

Winners will be recognized at our spring open mic night on Thursday, April 9 from 6-8pm in Powell Library’s Rose Gilbert Reading Room. After readings from the winning pieces, the mic will open up to any who wish to read. You can sign up to read in advance at this form or at the event.

(a previous version of this blog post stated that the open mic night was on Tuesday, April 7, but it will be on Thursday!)


The Third Annual “What Can You Pen?” Creative Writing Contest

We’re excited to announce our third annual creative writing contest for UCLA students, co-sponsored by Westwind, UCLA’s journal of the arts!

This year’s theme is “Before and After.”

Submission Guidelines

Prizes are awarded in both poetry and prose categories. Prose entries may include short stories, flash fiction, creative nonfiction, and excerpts of plays, screenplays, and novels. Only one entry per student. Entries in prose or poetry cannot exceed 10 double-spaced pages.

Email your submission to thewritersden@ucla.edu by FRIDAY OF 5th WEEK (February 6, 2015) at 11:59pm with the subject “Poetry Contest Submission” or “Prose Contest Submission.” Please include the following in your email:

  • your full name
  • student ID number
  • major


First place in each category will receive an illustration of the author’s winning piece, to be presented at our open mic night in April, plus publication in Westwind.

Second place in each category will receive an illustration of the author’s piece, to be presented at our open mic night in April.


Judging will take place in two rounds: first, the finalists will be determined by a panel of Westwind editors, and second, the winners will be chosen by a panel of faculty judges. Both rounds will be blind selection processes.

Submissions will be judged based on the following criteria:

  • Theme interpretation (“Before and After”)
  • Impact/engagement
  • Style & presentation

If you have any questions, feel free to email us at thewritersden@ucla.edu.

A Fantastic First Day


On Friday, we had a fantastic first day at our middle school volunteering sites! Veteran volunteers Hristiana (pointing) and Cameron (not pictured) did a phenomenal job as our newest site leaders. We’re expecting great things from them 🙂

If you are interested in joining our team of volunteers, attend our volunteering meetings on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. (following our 7 p.m. general meeting) and sign up here.

In other news, Kevin continues to foil my attempts at candid shots.

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

Volunteer Day 2014: Think on Your Feet


We don’t have any golden rules in the Writer’s Den (…why would we?), but if we did, it would be to stay flexible. Our seven task captains made yesterday a success by doing just that. From start to finish, our project plan went through four or five revisions, and three or four of them were made after we arrived on-site. Some things may have almost gone wrong, but hey, it makes for a great story—and that’s what we’re about.

The rest of this post is dedicated to Superstar Task Captain Kevin’s uncanny ability to pose well for every single photo he’s in—even when I was attempting to discreetly take candid shots.

Continue reading “Volunteer Day 2014: Think on Your Feet”


I’ve decided to make “In Pursuit of Productivity” a biweekly series because it gives me more time to effectively observe and analyze each strategy in order to capture the essence of each…uh…

Okay, so I didn’t write last week.

But–but–I was busy with roommates moving in and out and then cleaning out the apartment and then there’s this giant project for a summer class and it’s too hot in LA to do anything and I hosted a summer Writer’s Den event and there were these really good books I couldn’t put down and…and…and I really meant to get writing done! It’s the thought that counts, right?

I can make all the excuses I want, but the reality is I didn’t write because it wasn’t a priority.

Maybe I could have gotten up a little earlier, or taken a break from working on the school project, or dragged myself to an air-conditioned library to work on a story. But I didn’t.

Sometimes life happens and we just can’t prioritize writing, but for the most part we have room in our schedules for just a little bit each day—before going to bed, maybe, or during that awkward hour between classes. The problem is we don’t fit it in and the stories never get written.

Here’s a challenge: Pick a day this weekend and make writing a priority. I’m choosing Sunday. Care to join?

In Pursuit of Productivity: Intro

There’s a lot of advice floating around on the Internet about being a productive writer: Have a routine. Don’t have a routine. Write early in the morning. Write late at night. Have a daily goal. Have a weekly goal. Research first. Focus on the story first. Tell people about your story. Don’t tell people about your story. Write standing up. Write upside down. Write in a super complicated multi-person yoga pose while chanting in Latin to summon the muses. (Just kidding. You really should be using Greek for best results.)

So…what methods should a writer use? It’s difficult figuring out what works and what doesn’t. The only way of knowing is to try everything out—so, in the name of science, I’m embarking on a series of experiments to determine the best productivity tips out there.

Leave your tips in the comments below. I’ll be back next Friday with a report on my first test.
On a scale of 1 to Stephen King, how much did you write today? In Pursuit of Productivity is a biweekly series in which an apologetically unproductive writer goes on a quest to test-drive all of the productivity tips on the Internet. Join her on this journey—or you could use the time to write instead. Your choice.