A couple of months ago, I had the privilege of attending the annual Poets & Writers‘ Workshop Leaders Retreat at our very own 826LA in Echo Park. It was an inspiring workshop attended by prominent Southern Californian writers and writing workshop leaders. Over the course of a day, we got to share our creative practices and hear each others’ approach to teaching and writing.
Here is what I learned from other writers about supporting and encouraging students in their writing process:
Write with students
It is easy to forget how hard writing can be when you’re presenting a prompt or encouraging students to write. Writing while students are writing helps them see that you’re invested in the prompt just as much as they are.
Writing can be healing
This workshop reminded me of why I write, especially in difficult times. Writing is a form of expression that sometimes looks colorful and imaginative, and other times looks raw and tender.
Frank Escamilla opened up the workshop by reciting one of his poems. He was vulnerable with us before asking us to be vulnerable in the space. Vulnerability is powerful when it comes to writing.
Students, no matter what their age is, can tell when you’re not being authentic in the workshop space or in the classroom. Being yourself and being vulnerable go hand in hand when it comes to building rapport with student writers.
This workshop reminded me that one of the best things about writing is meeting other writers, learning about the work they’re passionate about, and writing together. Building community in the workshop space or in the classroom is crucial to making writing fun, social, and supportive.
Founded in 1970, Poets & Writers is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization serving creative writers.
Poets & Writers’ work is rooted in the belief that literature is vital to sustaining a vibrant culture. We focus on nurturing literature’s source: creative writers. Our mission is to foster the professional development of poets and writers, to promote communication throughout the literary community, and to help create an environment in which literature can be appreciated by the widest possible public.