The Writers Guild Initiative was born out of a desire on the part of several writers to use their talents to give a voice to populations not being heard. It was 2008, and while wars were raging in Iraq and Afghanistan, veterans of those wars got little attention back home.
Our first writing workshop was with the National Guard in Columbus, Ohio. It was such a success we were soon approached by the Wounded Warrior Project to partner with them on writing workshops within the spectrum of military populations, including: family caregivers, wounded soldiers, and doctors at the Landstuhl Hospital in Germany suffering from “compassion fatigue.”
Since then we have continued to work with veterans while expanding our reach to other unseen populations. You can read more about the groups we’ve worked with and our partner organizations here.
In our workshops, participants learn to develop their writing skills and share their life experiences. Over the course of two weekend intensives, participants delve into writing in all of its forms. The spirit in the rooms is one of trust, collaboration, and humor, and the result is participants growing in confidence in their writing skills and an enhanced ability to process their lives and the world around them as they discover their own unique voice. These workshops are entirely free for participants and we do this work with our extraordinary roster of volunteer mentors, including some of the finest writers in the country from a variety of disciplines.
And we continue to grow – over the past three years we’ve started free online workshop seminars where past participants from our various groups around the country can continue to collaborate with our mentors and each other; often resulting in completing and publishing work. We’ve also started our micro-workshops with smaller populations and a few mentors so we can respond quickly and efficiently to urgent situations, such as suicide among veterans.
There is still so much to do!
While the Writers Guild Initiative has gone far beyond what we imagined when we conceived of it in 2008, it’s clear that our most important work is ahead of us.
We invite you to be a part of this effort. Please give generously to support what we do and volunteer your time to be an active part in it. Our goal is always to share this amazing gift and craft of writing wherever there are groups whose voice is not being heard. We strive to help others to find their voice and tell their story.
President, Writers Guild Initiative
Volunteer with the WGI
Opportunities to volunteer for WGI Programs are open for all Writer’s Guild Members.
As a member of the Guild, you have personal experience of the power of a story to change lives. Our mission is to bring the power of storytelling to the lives of people who need to tell their story.It’s not altruism, by the way; I am as self-interested as the next guy. The fact it, I have been consistently blown away, humbled, and moved to both tears and screams of laughter by the stories I’ve heard… You would not believe the stories!
Read more from Susan Kim, Mentor
As Michael Weller writes:
What these people share is an experience of life heightened by exposure to extreme events. What we bring is a conviction that writing is a way to honor the most deeply subjective parts of one’s being that may have been bruised or wounded in coping with these events.
What we gain is a sense that our skills (writing) are enormously valuable to people hungry to learn them, and even more significantly, from a writer’s point of view, we are granted a chance to share other people’s personal experience, and as writers to expand our understanding of the world.
You can read about Michael Weller’s experience with the WGI here.
And discover from writer Andrew Bergman how volunteering for the WGI is a little bit like sex.
If you’re a member of the Writer’s Guild and are interested in volunteering, please contact us here.