ANON writing workshop gives safe space for students to share work

Students gathered together in the Hege Library to share their creative pieces for an Anonymous Writing Workshop (ANON), on Thursday, Sept. 26. Selena Wolf Berkley, the workshop leader, was hoping to bring together writers of different ability to essentially create a “safe space” for students to share and discuss their pieces.

 “Having creative outlets helps to build something in people,” Berkley said.

The normal classroom setting was thrown out the window. Instead, the students created their own rules for sharing and critiquing each other’s manuscripts. Simple respect, honesty and confidence building were decided among the group to be key aspects in this process of evaluating the creative pieces. Each student present in the workshop was there for different accords and reasons.

 “I wanted to make creative writing a habit so I don’t have to write in a journal when I’m depressed,” said Hannah Arnett, a participating student.

This workshop was created to aid in student ability to critique written documents, while also learning to accept the critique and build from it. Some concerns did arise when discussing the goals of the workshop. One student, Caleb Huppert, spoke up about his concerns.

“We are all at different writing levels,” Huppert said. “I’m worried about criticism being incorporated by different levels.” 

Though this seems like an issue, Berkley had previously addressed a similar issue. “Great things and weird things happen in writing workshops. You are actually responding as a reader, not a writer,” Berkley said.

Writing as an art can be somewhat intimidating, but Berkley was adamant about informing the students that sharing your work does not have to be about identifying yourself personally.

“This was for experienced writers and those who were interested in it. It’s not about how much experience a person has, it’s more about the work itself,” Berkley said.

The unfolding of the workshop was constructed to allow the students to provide their own input for their expectations and goals. Surprisingly, Guilford currently does not have a club exclusively for creative writing. When asked about the possibility of joining if offered, the students were very much interested in the notion.

When Huppert was asked if he would be interested in joining a creative writing club, he responded, “Yes, no hesitation,” almost immediately.

This workshop has been constructive in the views of the attending students.  Most threw ideas into the open to aid in the goal setting and adhering process. The students were involved and were engaged with the ideas of sharing and discussing the work they were going to present. Berkley had intrigued the students with discussion of writing what you love and sharing it with others, and they were interested in identifying elements of writing and applying it to their own work.

The workshop will continue to meet every other Thursday at 4 p.m. in the Hege Library. Students of all experiences and backgrounds are welcome to attend. The only requirement is to bring a piece of written work (under six pages) that you would like to be critiqued and discussed. The next scheduled meeting is on Oct. 10 at 4 p.m.


Editor’s note: This story was originally published in Volume 106, Issue 1 of The Guilfordian on Oct. 4, 2019.