creative writing community, craft and inspiration
We are tickled that The Writers Circle is the subject of this lovely article by one of our students, Isabella DeFranceschi, who wrote it for her high school journalism class. Not only does it show a fine grasp of journalistic form, but she relates the experience of our workshop from the perspective of our students. We are truly honored! Everyone, please enjoy:
SUMMIT, SOUTH ORANGE, & MAPLEWOOD, NJ- During the first week of October, the fall session of The Writers Circle Creative Writing Workshops began, to the delight of a large number of kids and adults who come together weekly to discuss and share their work in over twenty writing workshops.
The sessions, led by fifteen teachers including workshop directors Judith Lindbergh and Michelle Cameron, will last eleven weeks. Judith Lindbergh, the founder and director of The Writers Circle, states her main goal for students to achieve is to absolutely love writing. “In general, writing is a lonely life,” said Lindbergh. “Workshops are invaluable and keep you writing. Some are soul-sucking, but others help you find yourself.”
Students learn to catch inspiration when it comes, share their writing with others, and respond to compliments and critique in the workshops. The instructors share their positive and negative experiences with writing and publishing their work. “Writing isn’t easy, but it is always fun,” said Lindbergh.
The Young Storymakers workshop is invitation-only. Those who desire to join this group must submit writing samples to Lindbergh, the class instructor, in order for her to determine whether or not they fit the criteria for the class. When reviewing the submissions, Lindbergh looks for enthusiasm, creativity, willingness to go with an idea unexpectedly, and the volume of the work that the student submits.
“It’s very laid-back, and a good writing environment,” said Olivia Bishop, a student in the Young Storymakers workshop, in reference to the structure and atmosphere of the classes. “Everyone is friendly and supportive.”
Most students in the workshops are eager to write, and find inspirations to lift them up when they cannot find the strength to continue writing. “My friends wanting to read what I have next keeps me writing,” said Bishop.
Although creative writing is considered a fun process to many of those involved, there are a number of obstacles that must be surmounted before moving forward. Lindbergh has encountered students who have great ideas but cannot get them onto the page, try to do what their teachers request without pausing to think outside the box, and mimic existing characters from the media. In order to help them better express their creativity, Lindbergh puts the words on paper for them or tells them to write down their exact thoughts, gives them crazy prompts that allow them to do their own thing, and jokes with them and nudges them away from the idea of copying existing characters.
When Lindbergh’s son Colin came home from third grade with a geography report to complete, he had problems following the rigid instructions that provided exact requirements for each sentence of the assignment. After she was asked for assistance with the report, Lindbergh realized it did not accurately reflect or teach how writers should work. She spoke with other mothers of children at Gregory Elementary School, and began teaching a few writing classes. “It grew from there,” said Lindbergh with a smile. She did not have expectations, and had no idea that The Writers Circle would grow into such a large community.
“[The class] is perfect; there’s nothing to change,” said Bishop. The Writers Circle is planning to continue its seasonal classes, and a digital copy of The Writers Circle Journal will soon be joining its published counterpart in stores. Lindbergh has stated her advice for aspiring writers: “Don’t allow your imagination to stop at anyone else’s boundary.”