Friday 5: The Benefits of Leading NYWC Workshops

The NY Writers Coalition is looking for volunteers to lead creative writing workshops that provide a safe, supportive environment in which writers can find and expand their voices, take risks in writing, and be part of a non-competitive writing community. Once trained, volunteer workshop leaders participate fully in all workshops they lead: writing, reading aloud, and providing supportive feedback to workshop participants. Workshop leaders gain leadership skills while being part of a rewarding process of personal and interpersonal discovery. Want to know more about what it is like to be a workshop leader? Here are 5 benefits of becoming a writing workshop leader from current workshop leaders themselves…

As a workshop leader you:

1. Are a member of a community of experienced writers …

I became 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 

 2. Confront the scariest moments in life and capture and celebrate the most wonderful moments

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

3. Listen to diverse perspectives …

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

 4. Empower others as much as the writing itself …

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

5. Become a better person …

 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

The Spring 2013 Workshop Leader Training will take place over the weekend of Friday, April 26 to Sunday, April 28 and the evening of Thursday, May 2. Trainees must attend all sessions. So if you are interested in becoming a NYWC volunteer creative writing workshop leader, you must complete and submit an application no later than February 15, 2013. Please note that for the Spring 2013 training we are specifically looking for applicants who are interested and available to lead workshops with youth, and those who have a flexible schedule/daytime availability. We are also giving special consideration to applicants who are bi-lingual, and to those who reside in the NYC boroughs of the Bronx and Staten Island.

Jump in and apply ….

It seemed more pipe-dream than possible, but I decided to jump in and apply. Some [years] 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

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