Women’s Writing Workshop is a campus organization that not only provides a safe space for students to share and improve their writing, but it has created a interconnected network of women who can learn and grow together.
According to Cassie Luthman, organization president and fourth-year English student, the group began as a casual gathering of students who regularly met up to share their writing. From there, the group began to welcome in new members and eventually established itself as an official campus organization.
Luthman said that part of what she has enjoyed most about the organization is the “safe space,” which it has provided for her and other members to share their work.
“Everybody comes in with all kinds of different writing. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, short stories — literally anything — and everybody feels comfortable talking about it and sharing it,” Luthman said. “And it really helps us to grow as writers, being in a place where we feel comfortable taking critique.”
For member Shania Feliciano, the workshop has allowed her to grow artistically, she said. Although she is primarily a writer of fiction with an emphasis in fantasy, participating in the workshop has led her to explore other writing forms and genres. She said she now feels more confident in her writing abilities and in opening up about her work.
"When I first joined as a freshman, I was very shy about my writing and I hated anyone seeing it because I thought it would be so bad," said Feliciano, a fourth-year English student. "I just think the kind of environment that Cassie helped set up really inspired me to get out of my comfort zone and write more."
The workshop is often about more than just writing, according to Feliciano. Working and sharing together has created deeper bonds between the organization members. Even if the members don't necessarily consider themselves to be friends, they are still very close as women and as individuals.
Luthman shared that this bond is one of the unique benefits to organizations that are entirely made up of women.
“I think that’s a lot of what makes it feel kind of like a safe space. There are days when we get there and it takes us twenty minutes to even get started writing because we’ve all just had a rough time and we just need to talk about whatever and having a group of just women — and we have some non-binary members as well — it just really helps to make everyone feel more comfortable talking about their personal lives."
Peggy Curry, a second-year tourism management student, said she started following the Women's Writing Workshop's Instagram after noticing one of its flyers hung up on campus. She said she initially became interested in the club because of its focus on female members.
"Personally, I like surrounding myself with strong, independent women who are like-minded to me," Curry said.
Although she has not yet had the opportunity to participate in the workshop, she is a member of other women-focused organizations such as Planned Parenthood Generation Action (PPGA) and Her Campus, which Curry describes as a women-led online journal.
Curry believes that participating in women-focused groups such as Women's Writing Workshop, PPGA and Her Campus can give students experiences they wouldn't get elsewhere.
"Forming relationships with other motivated women can motivate you," Curry said.
She said it helps her "to stay on track of academics and branch out, and kind of make the most of the college experience."
Besides the benefits of a safe space and the potential for a support system of like-minded women, Women's Writing Workshop meetings can also be a way to relax and have a good time.
"I really encourage anyone that has any interest in writing, whatsoever, to really consider joining. Come to check out a meeting, because it's so laid back, and it's so fun, and we're always laughing. It's just great," Luthman said.