Girls Write Now Q&A


We make writing fun! Join us this summer for a creative, enriching writing experience that allows children to explore their imaginations while building confidence and literacy skills.

We spoke with Jennifer Shields, who is co-teaching our “Girls Write Now” summer workshop (July 22 – 26, 1 to 4 p.m.; ages 12-14) to find out more about why this is a great program for teen writers.

Register for Girls Write Now here.

PWN: Why do you think this camp is important, especially now?

JEN: There are so many layers to the recent phenomena of women speaking out (for example, #metoo). Girls learn at an early age about the inherent dangers of being female in our society. They learn to distrust their environment and guard their feelings. This is the indelible guideline for coming of age. In Girls Write Now, we talk about our intuitive strengths and pick apart the perceived weaknesses our culture has bestowed upon us. Through writing exercises and lively discussions, we examine the big influencers, such as peers, social media (Snapchat, Instagram), school, Netflix, parents, siblings, etc. We gather knowledge and strength through sharing our writing in a positive and encouraging environment.

PWN: What do you love about having grown up as a girl?

JEN: What I loved most about growing up as a girl was the intensity and closeness of my friendships with other girls. Liza, Sarah, and Lori—my besties. At that time, girls were allowed much more freedom to love in our friendships. With Girls Write Now, we acknowledge and foster this closeness but also explore ways to support and encourage boys to form similar relationships. I am thankful for the bonds I’ve shared during those difficult years of middle school and high school. I have never laughed as hard as I did with Liza, Sarah, and Lori. Sisterhood—that is what I love about being a girl!

PWN: What moment in the classroom (in this camp) gets you excited as an instructor?

JEN: Seeing a bond of friendship quickly form among a group of strangers. To watch girls come in on the first day and apprehensively choose their seat at the table—shy smiles and a pulling inward of their bodies as they await instruction. Lisa and I jump right in with the invitation to write freely, speak freely. We commend them for coming and appreciate the bravery in showing up to a room full of strangers. Every word is confidential and stays within our circle. We give them permission to be seen and heard. By the end of the week, they are talking over one another because they are so excited to share their stories. Their shy smiles have transformed into magnificent grins and their bodies now shake with belly laughs.

PWN: Why do you write?

JEN: As an introvert, I am inexplicably compelled to write. So much of my experience of the world takes place internally. Writing—whether journaling, working on my memoir, or putting line fragments together to make a poem—is a major component of my mental health. The process of reflection and a slowing down of the world brings me to a place of calm and understanding. Writing allows me to be a better therapist, wife, friend, and mom. I would be lost without this practice.

Register for Girls Write Now here.

Jennifer Shields is a Writing Instructor & Counselor for Project Write Now.