It’s always exciting to begin a new partnership, and this month we are grateful to start writing with Hope Sheds Light, a nonprofit whose mission is “to raise awareness and educate individuals, families, and the community about the impact of addiction.” Together, we provide weekly writing workshops to students in grades 9 through 12 on Wednesday evenings (7 to 8:30 p.m.).
Already the students have been diving deep with their writing. During one session, we wrote to the questions: “What can’t people tell by looking at you?” “What things do others not see?” “What do people assume about you and get wrong?” During another session, we wrote about our first concert experience using all five senses. Then we focused on someone special in our lives. We described this someone special in detail, made a playlist for them, and wrote in present tense about the perfect day spent with this person sharing these songs.
Writing our stories empowers us, building self-awareness, confidence, and resilience. Sharing our stories helps us understand one another better, generating compassion, empathy, and love.
21st Century Community Learning Center (Long Branch)
This month, we focused our writing with the 3rd graders in the after-school program on emotions and using our senses. Inspired by the chain of kindness poems used during the month of February, students wrote their own lines about a time they experienced kindness. The next session, the students discovered how including their different senses could make a story come to life! They made lists about how their favorite things look, smell, sound, feel, and taste—and then they turned these lists into stories! Next month, we begin with a new group of students and look forward to seeing what they come up with!
Friday Lunchtime Write-In
Every Friday, we meet on Zoom from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. to write in response to prompts on a designated theme. This month we’ve explored themes on “Lists,” “Setting,” and “Spring.” Some writers join to write poetry, others write longer narrative prose, and some just come to journal. Nothing is off-limits! We always enjoy hearing one another’s pieces and have formed an incredible, supportive community of writers. Join us for our next Lunchtime Write-In to discover what our upcoming themes will be!
Garden State Film Festival Table Read
We were excited to partner with the Garden State Film Festival and host the virtual table read of the winning screenplay, The Boy Roach, written by Jersey native Rob Thorp. Thorp’s screenplay, which was selected among hundreds of entries, tells the story of Ethan Roach, who, after being ejected from commune life, returns home to Asbury Park, N.J., where he confronts his past, finds unexpected love, and questions his current lifestyle choices. Project Write Now worked with casting agent Meg Bloom Glasser to fill the roles with professional actors, who brought the script to life for attendees. This was the third virtual table read Project Write Now has hosted through our Screenwriting Academy. Click here for more information on our Screenwriting Academy.
Red Bank Public Library
This month, the writers of Red Bank Public Library wrote in response to Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “Kindness.” We shared stories of loss and grief and closed the group writing about hope and what keeps us moving forward. It’s always a deep and gratifying conversation. Thank you, writers, for sharing your words and your stories with us!
Shore House (Long Branch)
With the Shore House writers, we did some introspective writing, asking ourselves: What are some things we are still learning right now? We used the power of visualization to imagine what our lives would look like if the work was done. We also thought about what it would mean if our writing landed in the hands of our intended audiences. Then we had some fun after reading and being inspired by the flash fiction piece “Ways to Take Your Coffee,” by Leath Tonino. And we ended the month by writing letters to welcome the spring season. We’re thrilled that some of our writers are now sharing their work with us so we can share it with you on our social media channels! Make sure to follow us on Facebook & Instagram to get a glimpse into these creative talents!
Spoken Word Project at Asbury Park High School
We had an incredible month with the students in the creative writing class at Asbury Park High School. Led by spoken word artist and writer Christian Elijah, we spent time discussing the impact vulnerability has on our words and in the sharing of our stories. Then spoken word artist Philip J. Curtis zoomed in from Colorado to share strategies for revising our pieces for performance. One of his tips—using Haikus to create imagery—inspired us all so much that we spent the rest of the class analyzing how impactful these short poems can be. We are gearing up for performances in April and will have more exciting news about how you can see some of their work.
Teacher Writing Collaborative
Our teachers came together this month to share writing activities that have been working with their students, including a super fun March “Poetry” Madness project, pitting poems against one another for voting by the students similar to how the NCAA bracket works. We also welcomed two new teachers to the group! We are starting a new session on Thursday, April 8, that will run every other week until June 3. You are welcome to join anytime. Learn more and register here.
Teen Writing Group
Our teen leaders always come up with fun, inspiring prompts for the students in Teen Writing Group. This month, they decided to steal an idea from our adult programming and had their own “CringeFest,” where they read pieces they wrote when they were much younger to see their progress and take a moment to laugh at and with themselves. We loved seeing how far they’ve come! Some of our other favorite prompts they’ve completed this month include: “Things you think about when” … “Sensory Lists” … “Redefine vulnerability in your own words” … and “Metamorphosis.” Join us for Teen Writing Group to see what our teen leaders will come up with next!
“Womyn’s Worth” at Lunch Break
This month, we talked about self care and wrote a letter to our bodies with the hope of making an emotional as well as cognitive connection to better enhance self care. We framed it as the need to start a conversation, a letter of gratitude, and a promise of becoming. Becoming centered, becoming committed, becoming kinder. Because we are always becoming. Becoming is the journey of life. We are grateful that we can do such deep reflection through writing with these incredible women.
Zoom Open Mic
Fifteen writers arrived for our monthly Zoom Open Mic this March, sharing original works of poetry, fiction, memoir, and even rap! The pieces shared moved us to tears, made us belly laugh, and everything in-between. We are so proud of the community that has formed with our writers. Join us for our next Zoom Open Mic on April 23 at 5 p.m. ET!
Through our mission as a nonprofit organization, we assist in removing barriers to participating in our studio classes by providing full and partial scholarship seats as well as payment plans. Since the pandemic began, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the need for financial assistance and therefore have met that need by offering more scholarship seats. In 2020, we provided 48 adult and 28 youth/teen seats totaling nearly $15,000 in scholarships. Since January 2021, we have provided 25 adult and 9 youth/teen seats totaling $5,265. For information about our scholarship program or to become a valuable donor providing these seats, please email Jennifer Chauhan at firstname.lastname@example.org.