NYWC Leaders: Why we do what we do

Last call, folks! Last call!  Today is the last day to apply to be a NY Writers Coalition workshop leader, a sharp group of folks on the front lines of the work that we do.

Workshop leaders are often the public’s first contact with the organization — at a free workshop in the park, in a school, or in the corner of the public library — and NYWC’s mission to “galvanize the voices of the marginalized and create opportunities for all writers to connect with the larger community” couldn’t happen without our army of  talented leaders.

We’ve gotten a nice stack of incredible applications so far, but we’re still waiting to hear from you! If you’re still on the fence about applying (or simply procrastinating), a few of our current workshop leaders would like to share why they do what they do. A final nudge never hurts, right?

I became a workshop leader because…

I became a workshop leader because writing has helped me name and confront the scariest moments in my life and capture and celebrate the most wonderful moments. I wanted to share that with people who, too often, think that writing is a trick they never learned in school, not something within them waiting to come out. Workshops can show our writers that stories can help solve problems and can help stretch joy a little bit farther. 

Tim Dalton,  Workshop leader at Tanya Towers

I become a NYWC workshop leader in 2010 because I wanted to be a member of a community of experienced writers who offered writing workshops to others who may benefit from supportive writing experiences. I now look forward to my weekly writing workshop with homeless individuals who are inspired by the NYWC workshop approach, which encourages all levels of writing ability, supports a newly formed identity as a writer, and provides a creative writing environment that honors the commitment to self as a writer.  
 Angela Lockhart-Arnoff,  Workshop leader at Stepping Stones Community Residence
It seemed more pipe-dream than possible, but I decided to jump in and apply. Some eighteen months of workshops later, I’m still floored they let me do this. I work with teens down in Coney Island. We’re based in the public library there, rain or shine or snow-capped Cyclone. My kids are amazing people, full of truth and bold writing, bad jokes and trust. They remind me all people are capable of unlocking beauty and laughter, myself included, if given the chance. Working with NYWC is one of the best things I’ve ever been a part of. Apply even if you don’t think you have a shot. You never know what they’re looking for – and you can’t imagine all you’ll find. 
 — Cait Weiss,  Workshop leader at  Coney Island Public Library

Participants share words and wit at Brooklyn Borough Hall during NYWC Day on May 18. Photo credit: Patrick Mathieu

…We witness some of the craft’s most beautiful moments.

While discussing a workshop member’s writing about the topic of personal growth at unexpected times, one particularly wise and lovely member said, “Well, you know, we bloom when we bloom. And then sometimes, we bloom again.” 
— Rebecca McCray,  Workshop leader at College and Community Fellowship

I participated in a NYWC workshop at Fortune Society which revealed to me the magic of creative writing – something academia was unable to do – so when the opportunity was presented, I enthusiastically began leading three NYWC workshops, one at Fortune Society. A special moment at that workshop was during a five minute break when a young man exclaimed: “I never thought I would like writing.” 

— Patrick Mathieu,  Workshop leader at Fortune Society

If you become a NYWC workshop leader, just remember…
Be patient, selfless, and most of all, open. This experience will change you, and if you’re patient, you will certainly change everyone you encounter. You will become a better person through this work — from honing your ability to listen to sharing your art’s deepest self. 
— Kristina Villarini,  Workshop leader at SAGE

What keeps me looking forward to leading workshops month after month, is listening to the diverse perspectives from a one-word prompt, such as “money,” and moments like when Yasmel Pimentel, who chose to ignore the prompt, and wrote: “It’s not enough to add years to your life, you have to add life to your years.” My advice to future NYWC workshop leaders is: Relax! Have fun!  

— Patrick Mathieu,  Workshop leader at the Fortune Society

I keep leading workshops because I love watching groups mature and make connections with each other. I would advise future leaders to meet the writers where they are, and see where they take the workshop. Giving the members autonomy over the group will empower them as much as the writing itself. Also, bring healthy snacks, even if the kids whine. 

— Tim Dalton,  Workshop leader at  Tanya Towers

Applications for NYWC workshop leader positions are due today.  Applicants with daytime availability or interest in writing with kids are strongly urged to apply. Click here for more information and our online application. Good luck!


  1. I just read this “TWEET” and it sounds amazing. I missed the date and would have definitely applied. Would you tell me more about the workshop even though it is too late, I’m interested in learning what I can anyway. Thank you. P.S. I have been in 2 excellent writing workshops, one of which was with Angela Lockhart-Arnoff.