Imagine a week filled with authors and other guest speakers and peers who share your passion for writing, and leaders to guide you through the week. Well, you’d be imagining Project Write’s summer workshop, where rising fourth graders and up come together.
Director Rhonda Lancaster has created a safe and accepting environment for these aspiring authors. They can feel comfortable being themselves and sharing their writing. “It’s just a big group of people who all love writing as well, and we can just bounce ideas off each other. Being in a big group of people that are also writing is very helpful,” said Pidge, a rising sophomore at Fauquier High School. They have been attending Project Write’s summer workshop for four years.
Alicia D Williams presents at Project Write Summer Workshop 2022.
Project Write has always had multiple guest speakers come throughout the week. This year, however, they had more than ever before. There were six different speakers, four of which were published authors. Alicia D. Williams, author of Genesis Begins Again, was a favorite because of her enthusiasm. “Their energy was up there. They were positive, and they were fun,” said Emmy, a homeschooled 7th grader who has attended Project Write for three years.
Her lesson also made her a fan favorite. Williams had the writers create five lists about people, places, objects, secrets (kept or told), and events important to them. Each list was created quickly with a timer set for three minutes for each topic. Then, participants chose one thing from the lists to expand in a piece of writing. “I liked the discussion we were having. I liked making all of those lists. It was a lot of fun for me. I really enjoyed it,” said Emmylou, an eighth grader from Frederick County Middle School attending Project Write’s summer workshop for the first time.
The young writers learned many lessons during the summer program. When asked what was one thing they learned this week. The majority replied with the old adage, “show, don’t tell,” which means that instead of saying how a character feels, the writer shows the emotion through their actions. An example would be, instead of saying, “He’s angry” or “She’s sad,” the writer describes, “He clenched his fists so tight, his knuckles turned white” or “Her jaw tightened as she shook her head.”
One other lesson taught was you should lock up your inner critic. On the first day, Lancaster had all the kids draw what they thought their inner critic looked like; once they had finished, Lancaster made a make-shift paper jail and locked them all up. The point was to show that you don’t need to edit until the end. Just write. She left them locked up until revision day. When writers were finally able to edit their work. Locking up your inner critic is a lesson Lancaster teaches her James Wood High School students, too.
Project Write’s summer workshop may be an excellent opportunity for young writers that are interested in growing and developing their writing skills. If registered and paid by December 31st the cost for the whole week is $300, by June 10th it’s $400, or $450 anytime after June 10th (space permitting). There is a daily cost option for anyone who might be interested in only attending for a couple of days at $100 per day.