Dear Friends of Project Write Now:
We LOVE October because it means we are back writing with students in schools!
We started our 8th year with Red Bank Middle School, continuing to provide an in-school expressive writing program to students in AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) and two after-school creative writing clubs. We started our third year with the creative writing class at Asbury Park High School, providing “The Spoken Word Project.” And we are journaling with 11th graders in the Alliance for Success Program at Red Bank Regional High School as well as helping 12th graders with their college essays.
In all of these programs, we create supportive spaces where we come as we are, express our thoughts and feelings, write our stories, and develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of self.
But we could not do any of this without YOU! Whether you’ve taken a class, signed your child up for a class, participated in one of our events, or given a generous gift, YOU help us provide meaningful writing experiences that foster authenticity, connection, and empathy.
The Project Write Now Team
Here’s what else we’ve been up to this month. If you are interested in bringing a program to your school or organization, email executive director Jennifer Chauhan at email@example.com.
Asbury Park High School Boys & Girls Club
We are so excited to be partnering once again with the creative writing class at Asbury Park High School providing “The Spoken Word Project.” We’ve enjoyed getting to know the students and creating a supportive space for them to explore their authentic voices and stories. At the end of each class, we ask students to jot down a favorite line they wrote on a Post-it note and then we’ve been taking their lines and creating a collaborative poem. We are inspired by the students’ energy and creativity!
Lunch Break: Alliance for Success
We are grateful to be part of Lunch Break’s Alliance for Success program, providing a journaling component to the 11th graders. We’ve been writing in response to poetry, finding lines and phrases that resonate and help us reflect on our experiences. We are also helping 12th graders with their college essays.
Every Friday, we host a one-hour writing workshop on Zoom during which we write in response to prompts on a designated theme. This month, we explored spooky Halloween themes—“Witch,” “Nightmare,” and “Monster.” Though writers never have to share, we always enjoy hearing one another’s pieces and have formed an incredible, supportive community. Join us for our next Lunchtime Write-In to see what our upcoming themes will be!
PWN India (Adults)
Our adult students have loved writing with us so much that we’ve extended our journaling program! This month, we read the flash memoir “Il Nocciolo De Pesca,” by Anna Farro Henderson, and wrote to prompts exploring our inner and outer beauty. We also read the poem “Per aspera ad astra,” by Huascar Medina, and wrote to the prompts: “We were lost … ” “I’ve admired … ” “I’ve always felt … ” and “And I was exactly where … ” We all agreed how much we enjoy taking this hour to ourselves each week to just write and reconnect with ourselves.
Red Bank Middle School
– 4th & 5th Grade
This month we had the 4th and 5th grade AVID students write mini “I Remember” books, inspired by the technique of “automatic writing” and Joe Brainard’s memoir, “I Remember.” We began by brainstorming memories from holidays, trips, birthdays, first times, special people and places, school, hobbies, and sports. Then the students were free to do this “automatic writing” exercise on their own. The only “rule” was they had to write their own memories, beginning each one with “I remember … ” The students were encouraged to allow their minds to explore all of the years of their life in no particular order. The results were amazing!
– 6th Grade
We were so excited to work with our first round of 6th grade AVID students this month! We read “Driving in the Rain” by Christopher Shipman and looked at the art that inspired the poem: “Blueprint of a Dream” by Jaundré van Breda. Then we talked about what ekphrastic writing is—writing inspired by art—and started brainstorming ideas for stories that we could see emerging from “Blueprint of a Dream.” We then read “Nighthawks” by Anne Carson as another example and then we used our own art as launching points for creative stories. One student wrote about a deep sea adventure inspired by a magazine clipping of a boat. Another wrote about a birthday memory with her family using an old photo as inspiration. We loved how unique and imaginative each story was!
7th & 8th Grade
This month with our 7th and 8th AVID writers, we discussed why our stories matter. We watched the video, “The Power of Story: The Unfolding of a Spoken Word Poet” by Imani Woomera, and then we identified how we are walking stories with our clothes, bags, shoes, haircuts, and all of the things we carry every day. We also read “I Am” by Ava Schicke and then we took starting lines from the poem to freewrite from—”I am … I wonder … I want … I pretend … I feel … I dream … I try … I hope … ” When we shared our work, we began to notice just how many things we have in common. For instance, three students wrote about basketball, and four students wrote almost exactly the same line—”I pretend to be happy when I am sad”—which was a big win for authenticity and vulnerability. We concluded the month writing spooky stories for Halloween.
– After-School Writing Clubs
This month, we kicked off our PWN Writing Club for 4th and 5th graders and our PWN Quest Club for 6th-8th graders. In both clubs, we gifted students journals and gave them time to decorate them and make them their own. We also did a lot of getting-to-know-one-another writing prompts. Already, students are opening up, excited to share their stories!
Red Bank Public Library
With the writers of the Red Bank Public Library this month, we wrote about the weather using all five senses and then we traveled back in time, asking ourselves the questions: “When else did the weather feel as perfect as today? What was happening at that moment? Who were you with? How were you feeling? Is it a memory you cherish or a memory that haunts you?” Then we wrote and shared those stories. We also read some essays from Lit Reactor, “How 15 Horror Writers Celebrate Halloween,” and we wrote about all things Halloween—our best-ever costumes, parties, and of course, the superior house in all neighborhoods that gave out full-size candy bars.
This month with Senior Space, we read the poem, “Night at the Roller Palace,” by January Gill O’Neil, and then we reminisced about times where we lived hard and took chances. We also read the beginning pages of Annie Ernaux’s memoir, The Frozen Woman. Ernaux won the Nobel Prize for literature this year for her body of work depicting the many challenges of women in society. We wrote about the women who shaped us in our own lives and then wrote to the prompts, “How will you be remembered in your generational tree? What legacy or character traits will be discussed when you are long gone?”
Shore House (Long Branch)
We had a blast celebrating the spooky season at Shore House this month! We began by reading R. L. Stine’s Twitter story, “What’s in my Sandwich?” Then we passed around a witch’s hat to pull ideas (objects such as bats and rats) from her head. We used those ideas as launching points for our own scary stories. And then we shared our work with a flashlight and our scariest voices!
Teacher Writing Collaborative
We are honored to have built a community of teachers who meet every other week during the school year to write together. Using poems as inspiration, we read and then we pull favorite lines, words, or ideas and see where our minds and hearts take us. We’ve been so inspired by the stories and reflections that emerge during these freewrites. The Teacher Writing Collaborative is open to all teachers and you are welcome to join anytime. Our next TWC is scheduled for Thursday, November 17, from 5 to 6 p.m. ET. Join us!
Teen Writing Group
We are constantly in awe of the writers in our Teen Writing Group! Our teen leaders have been doing a fantastic job encouraging the group as they write and share their pieces. They’ve also delved into deep literary discussions that help enrich their writing. Be sure to join our teen-led global writing community for Fall Session II!
Write Out Loud
We had a fun time writing Halloween-themed pieces during our October Write Out Loud event. After writing, we took turns sharing both pieces we had just drafted and original work we brought in. We love the range of voices and styles and the storytelling community we are building! Thank you to the Asbury Book Cooperative for partnering with us and providing such an inspiring space. We hope you join us for our next Write Out Loud event on Tuesday, November 8!
Through our mission as a nonprofit organization, we remove barriers to participating in our fee-based 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. So far this year, we’ve awarded 66 seats totaling $13,940! For information about our scholarship program or to become a valuable donor providing these seats, please email Jennifer Chauhan at firstname.lastname@example.org.