Celebrating Writers in Progress: The Guide to Organizing a Quick but Fabulous Exhibition

writing celebrationIt’s important for young writers to share their work with audiences who are truly interested in receiving it, yet time for exhibition is often tight, and when it comes time to let something go, it’s this phase of the process that often falls by the wayside.

During my conversations with middle school teachers this spring, someone asked if I could recommend a quick but fabulous approach for organizing a writing celebration. I can, and I’m happy to share a quick guide here. I hope that if you use it, you’ll return and let me know how it worked. I’d love to know more about how you adapted this structure to situate it within your own parameters a bit better.

An important note: something wonderful happens when we shift our stance around celebration a bit. Rather than emphasizing publication, we could invite students to exhibit their works in process instead. Rather than rewarding writers for getting stuff done, we could invite them to reflect aloud on the process, the challenges faced and met, and how they would continue to improve the work, if given the choice.

When I listen in on conversations like these, I discover so much about what writers are learning. I also gain great clarity into their growing expertise, which I tap in future lessons and sessions. I love connecting writers together this way as well. If writers approach me requesting feedback on certain elements of craft or for help resolving particular dilemmas, it’s powerful for me to pair them with a peer who has talents that can serve them well.

This is not to say that publication is without value. Rather, it’s an invitation to reap the rewards provided by exhibition prior to the pursuit of publication. This is how we become writers. It’s how we become a writing community too.

At the WNY Young Writer’s Studio, we host an installation each spring. Much like artists exhibit their work, our writers make their learning visible beside their final products and strive to give more than their work away. We open the space to the public, and friends, families, and community members drop in to get to know who we are and what we do together. It’s one of my favorite days of the year. I begin curating ideas early each year. If you’re interested in doing something similar, you might want to dig around in my links and pins.

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