By Robin Gericke

Between research papers and reflective essays, creative writing can be a great way for students to express themselves through writing without having to worry about page counts or citations. The Asbury Review offers Creative Writing Workshops for students who want to receive feedback on their writing, read other pieces and meet fellow writers.

The workshops are a time of food, fellowship and discussion. Since the 90s, the workshops have been organized by the Asbury Review, Asbury’s literature and art journal. They were previously held in the Old Asbury building, and now they are currently held in the cafeteria. Offered several times a semester, these Saturday morning workshops provide students with the opportunity to improve their writing and spend time with other students who also have a passion for writing.

Dr. Marcia Hurlow is the advisor of The Asbury Review. She said that the first goal of the workshop is for students to make their writing better. “It’s very hard to do that by yourself,” she said. “It’s very easy to leave part of the poem or story or creative non-fiction in your head. We help writers get everything down that they need to get down on paper to help them communicate with their readers.”

An email is sent out to the student body about a week before a workshop, calling for writing from those who want to attend the workshop. Then the editor collates the pieces and sends them back out to those interested so they have time to read people’s work. At a workshop, the writers make introductions and get to know one another. Then a writer reads his or her work out loud, unless it’s a really long piece. “Another person may also read it aloud for the writer to hear it in somebody’s else’s voice,” explained Hurlow. Following the reading, everyone discusses the piece. During the discussion, “the writer has to keep their mouth shut. Just sit there and take notes on what everybody says,” said Hurlow. “Usually at the end of the discussion, the writer can ask questions.”

Asbury Review editor Claire Hill’s favorite part of the workshops is getting to spend time with other writers. “I love seeing what they’re working on and discussing their pieces and helping them make them better. I feel like it builds friendship and community,” she said. “Getting to know the other writers in the Asbury community is great because it works to grow you and sharpen you, and you give feedback to others, like iron sharpening iron.”

Everyone is welcomed at the workshops, not just creative writing majors. In fact, it is a good way to connect with writers from all majors. “It’s great to get a fresh perspective,” said Hill, “especially if you maybe aren’t in a creative writing class during a particular semester. I originally started going to workshops because I wasn’t enrolled in a creative writing class, yet but I wanted to get to know the other writers on campus.”

Sophomore Catie Lien believes students can make the most of the workshops by participating. “Come prepared to talk,” she advised. “Workshop doesn’t work without discussion. Feel free to share your ideas and be open to receiving honest criticism.” Participants shouldn’t be afraid of judgment, as they will only be given helpful feedback and constructive criticism. “Your ideas and writing skills can only grow from attending workshops,” said Lien.

Hurlow agreed that everyone must be willing to share. “I have very few rules for workshops, but one of them is you can’t play unless you’re putting out your work too,” she said. “You can’t just be an observer; you’ve got to be on the same level of vulnerability.”

All students are welcome to attend the workshops and enjoy food, fellowship and discussion. “If you like writing and being with creative people, it’s a great place to be,” said Hurlow.