West Side Story

Club Connection: Writers’ workshop club

Find out more about the Writers’ Workshop Club, a group of passionate young people dedicated to writing.

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In this Club Connection, West Side Story answers the question,

In this Club Connection, West Side Story answers the question, "What is Writers' Workshop Club?"

Ting Gao

Ting Gao

In this Club Connection, West Side Story answers the question, "What is Writers' Workshop Club?"

Ting Gao, Reporter

Each Tuesday after school, a motley group of students gather in an ordinary-looking classroom in the English hallway. Huddled over their Chromebooks, they converse briefly about their latest works, and then commence to spend 30 minutes in near-silence, hardly interacting with each other at all. While this behavior might be considered strange for a social organization, it’s normal for the members of the West High Review/Writers’ Workshop club here at West.

The West High Review/Writers’ Workshop Club, which refers to itself as the Writers’ Workshop Club, succeeded both the old literary magazine club and the old writing workshop club. It was founded this year by English Teacher Tom Lindsey. Lindsey hosts the club in his classroom and helps facilitate the meetings. “The genesis of this club was that I’d been approached by people that want to write and don’t feel like they have time to write,” he said. “Some need guidance and they wanted a place where they could feel safe and maybe work on workshopping some pieces, but more so creating an artificial deadline so they have something to motivate them to write outside of school, namely because everyone’s so busy with school, and it’s so easy to push something that we care about like our own creative writing aside to work on papers, et cetera.”

Mr. Phipps, one of the Writers’ Workshop Club’s faculty supervisors, seen here in his room on Thursday, April 19.

English Teacher Wesley Phipps, the other faculty supervisor of the club, agreed. “I think it’s so important for young writers to have a place to write regularly, and also to be able to collaborate with other writers. And so I really think it’s important to schools to offer that kind of space,” he said. “I think that sometimes it can be really difficult to share a piece of writing, but I think that’s one of the things we learn the most from is after we’ve written something, having the chance to get feedback on that piece from others. And so having a club that’s about workshopping pieces of writing can be a really great opportunity for students to celebrate each other’s writing, and to improve as writers.”

I think it’s so important for young writers to have a place to write regularly, and also to be able to collaborate with other writers. And so I really think it’s important to schools to offer that kind of space.”

— Mr. Phipps

Isabelle Frerichs ‘21, a regular club attendee, echoed this belief. “I feel like if I weren’t in a club, I wouldn’t really find time, ever,” she said.

In addition to the weekly opportunities to write, the Writers’ Workshop Club also offers students a chance to interact with members of the Iowa Youth Writing Project. “It’s been really great to collaborate with the Iowa Youth Writing Project,” said Phipps. “They’ve come in to Writing Club a couple of times to facilitate workshops of pieces of writing that students have submitted, and they also are helping with Spoken Word Poetry Club. I feel really lucky to be able to work with them. They’ve provided such amazing opportunities to students. ”

As a new club, the Writers’ Workshop remains relatively small, with between four to six members attending each week, depending on the circumstances. But the club’s supervisors remain optimistic. When asked for his opinion on the club’s size, Phipps said, “I think it would be great to have more members, but I also think there’s something special about having a group of people that is really familiar with each other.”

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About the Contributor
Ting Gao, Reporter
Ting Gao is a junior at West High and first-year staffer. She works for the online publication as a reporter. When not occupied with school or extracurricular activities, she enjoys photographing nature, reading, wasting time on the Internet, and taking leisurely walks.
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Club Connection: Writers’ workshop club