The Veterans Writing Workshop at Jericho Project was a great success. The participants came, unsure of what the workshop would be like, but curious and motivated to explore the possibilities that writing might have for them.
We began by making it clear to the participants that although they were welcome to write about their military experience, they did not have to, and that they were welcome to write about other periods of their lives. We also made it clear that the workshop was for all levels of writing experience, and that lots of prior writing experience or “being good at writing in school” were not requirements.
The first writing activity encouraged the participants to rely on their own experience (sensory and emotional) to provide strong material for writing descriptions of places and people who had been important in their lives. The participants’ response to the writing techniques was positive and enthusiastic, and they were all surprised and excited by the results.
“I didn’t know I could write this way,” one vet said, “This really just brings it out of you.”
Best of all, the participants truly bonded with each other and became a real workshop. After a few sessions, they started commenting excitedly about each other’s work, complimenting each other and offering positive, constructive comments. The energy in the room was high and positive.
Perhaps the most positive sign of how successful the workshop was occurred when the participants realized that the workshop sessions were drawing to an end, and one participant turned to his fellow workshop-members and said, “But we can still keep meeting on Wednesdays to write and talk about writing, right?” This shows the group’s strong momentum and commitment to the writing process and to each other. I look forward to watching (and helping) it grow.
To learn more about the Veterans Writing Workshop program, click here.