AWA affiliate Lynn Bowmaster is the director of Woven Word Young Writers, an 18-year-old program for elementary—high school aged writers based in Hadley, MA.  Woven Word Young Writers offers 3 after school workshops and Summers On The Houseboat.   Gabriella Wilkerson, a Woven Word writer and rising 10th grader at Northampton High School, describes the importance of the program to its members.

A Place for the Writer in Each of Us

It can be disheartening to youth when schools and society look down upon art as a frivolous waste of time and a future. As humans, we possess the incredible gift to use our minds for thinking of things that are and things that have yet to be. Our imaginations have given us the power to create amazing inventions, change world problems, and most importantly, have compassion for others. These indispensable skills are essential in our ever evolving world. It’s imperative that we have an outlet for our creativity in order to become creative, powerful thinkers.

There are little shelters dedicated to housing different arts. Dance studios, theaters, art studios, and, symphony halls, equip themselves to nurture their art. So, where is there a space for creative young writers?

Near a river, in a quaint house with two friendly dogs always ready for a pat or a scratch, there’s a teacher who shares the joy of writing. There’s a circle of inviting chairs and sofas waiting to be filled. This is the home of Woven Word Young Writers. For aspiring authors such as myself, this is just the sort of place we search for.

Woven Word is a bit of a Neverland of writing spaces. It’s warm and inviting. There are no limits on what you write, how you write, or if you write anything good at all. It’s a space where the focus turns from product to process, opening up a world of possibility.

At Woven Word, we always have exciting and helpful prompts which foster all types of writing and can be changed by each writer for themselves at their own discretion. After we write, we take a break for snacks and then writers are encouraged to share their work with the group. We compliment anything from word choice, to plot, to character development. The process not only develops each writer’s voice and style, but also the community of each individual workshop, making each into a kind, friendly and joyful group.

The lovely space, helpful prompts, and friendly community are all important aspects of Woven Word Young Writers. It’s hard to say which is most valuable. Many things work together to create the workshop, bringing new writers in each year and old writers like myself back. Perhaps it is the common ground found between us writers, the joy in creativity, imagination, and process regardless of the perfection of the product. I have been part of Woven Word for many years and it has helped me grow as a writer and develop my own personal writing style. Looking back at my old notebooks from five years ago, my writing has evolved in a way I can’t help but feel proud of.

Woven Word Young Writers feeds the creativeness inside each and every one of us, helping us evolve as writers in our skills and feel confident in the messages we want to deliver and how we deliver them. And don’t we hope for the next generation, to have the strength, confidence, and wealth of original ideas to create a better world? And if that world starts out made of ink and paper? Then all the more power to the young writers out there who aren’t afraid to put their own pen to paper and the people behind them who help them to do so.

—Gabriella Wilkerson

For more about the history and background of how Woven Word Young Writers came to be please see this feature on the MassHumanities website.