At the Young Writers Workshop students explore new directions in their writing in an informal, relaxed environment. Daily creative writing activities become the basis for weekly portfolios and conferences. Being part of a playful, supportive community helps students begin to trust their own voices as writers.
The Young Writers Workshop was established at Bard College at Simon's Rock in 1983 and is part of the Bard College Institute for Writing and Thinking, which is nationally known for its innovative writing workshops for both teachers and students. Each year 84 students are selected to participate. Unlike conventional workshops in creative or expository writing, Simon’s Rock’s focuses on using informal, playful expressive writing as a way to strengthen skills of language and thinking. The subjects range from stories and poems the group has read, to personal experience, natural phenomena, music, and works of art.
Out of this informal writing, using techniques of peer response, students develop more polished pieces, from poems and stories to personal narratives and reflective essays. Classes are small and emphasize an atmosphere of trust and collaboration. Emphasis is given to discovering one's personal voice as a writer. Former students have gone on to enroll in such colleges as Amherst, Bard, Harvard, Haverford, Princeton, Simon’s Rock, Smith, Stanford, Williams, and Yale.
The Young Writers Workshop is not a traditional creative writing workshop. That is, we are not directly concerned with teaching the “dos and don’ts” of writing particular genres. Instead, Bard writing workshops provide students the opportunity to explore various genres and styles of writing while focusing on the connections between language, thinking, and creativity. In addition, we believe that the best way to grow as a writer is by writing rather than by listening to teachers give lectures, no matter how inspirational. What this means is that we spend a good part of each day doing various kinds of informal, playful writing activities together (the prompts may range from creative and exploratory responses to various readings, to observations of nature and works of art, to innovative kinds of fiction and poetry play). In each case, our aim is to engage your imagination, encourage you to take some risks with words and ideas, and expand your awareness of the writer's creative process.
During the three weeks students have the opportunity to attend plays and other cultural activities that are part of summer life in the Berkshires. Rolling admissions take place from January into mid-May. Early application is encouraged. Both a personal narrative and a teacher's recommendation are required.