A five-week-long Community Writers’ Workshop hosted by the ACU Writing Center will start Nov. 6 to help participants improve their writing skills. The workshop will take place Nov. 6, Nov. 13, Nov. 20 and Dec. 4 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Dr. Shelly Sanders, assistant professor of English, will teach the class.
Several different methods of writing are covered in the workshop. In one exercise, Sanders will give five random words, and students are asked to use these words to write a short piece. In another exercise, participants will write a story with the first line given to them. Sanders will help participants work on descriptive writing, learn literary techniques like plot, character and style, and try other exercises to focus on the craft of writing. She may invite a guest speaker to the class. Al Haley, writer-in-residence at ACU and associate professor of English, spoke at the 2008 workshop.
Participants will share their works with each other and give feedback on other writers’ stories. Participants are given the opportunity to invite friends and families to join a class and share their writing. Sanders said that she feels it is really important to show the ACU Writing Center is hospitable to the Abilene community. It not only promotes awareness of ACU, the Writing Center and the English department, but it’s also a fun way of meeting new people, and hearing about their plans for their stories.
“People working in all professions came to the workshop (in 2008),” Sanders said. “It’s been a blessing to me on many different levels. I am not only able to tell people what I’m passionate about, but I get to meet all kinds of people I will never get to meet working on campus. It helps me to know that there are a lot of people working other jobs who are interested in writing. I hope I will help them to be able to tell their stories and be proud of it.”
The first writing workshop took place in 2008. This is the second time the ACU English Department, in partnership with the ACU Writing Center, is hosting the program.
“Everyone liked it. The response we had was encouraging, and students became more confident in writing,” Sanders said. “They all learned some new writing techniques.”
Drew Winters is one community member who attended the workshop two years ago.
“I found the workshop surprisingly productive and enjoyable,” Winters said. “Dr. Sanders herself is a lovely woman, and she knows her craft. Sharing creations can be intimidating, but her disarming manner and confident leadership ought to relax even the most nervous students. I would recommend the workshop to anyone interested in creative writing.”
Bethany Bradshaw, senior English major from Henderson, helped Sanders as an assistant with the workshop in 2008.
“People really enjoyed the workshop,” Bradshaw said. “They were so eager. I was amazed by their enthusiasm. I remember a guy who came every week and had so many questions; he was really open to feedback. I also remember this old lady who wanted to write about her family memories. It was so interesting to hear different perspectives about life.”
About 50 students participated in the 2008 workshops, but this year, enrollment for the single workshop is limited to only 15 participants. Sanders said a smaller group is better for creating a workshop atmosphere and makes it easier for students to share their works.
The session is free. All people in the Abilene community over 18 years of age can apply for the fall workshop. If they are not accepted, they can apply again for a spring 2011 session. Those interested in the workshop must submit an application with a writing sample under five pages before Oct. 23. Those interested can pick up an application at the ACU Writing Center or contact Sanders at 325-674-4833 or firstname.lastname@example.org.