Celebration is a cornerstone of traditional writing workshop models. Here, writers share their work with eager audiences, typically in their local school communities. Exhibition differs celebration in important ways. Here, learners are encouraged to share works in process instead of completed products. Rather than rewarding writers for their work, we invite them to reflect aloud on their process, the challenges they faced and met, and how they would continue to improve the work, if given the choice. Most importantly, writers share the strategies and tools they’ve come to value most, in order to contribute to the group’s growing expertise. I make time for exhibition during every workshop session.
I’ve organized public writing exhibitions at the WNY Young Writer’s Studio each spring for the last seven years as well. This is when we open our space to family, friends, and community members. We spend an entire day learning from one another and enjoying a variety of other writing centers and activities as well. Need some ideas? Take a peek at this WNY Young Writers Studio Installation Idea Board on Pinterest.
Each time writers engage in exhibition, I discover much about what they are learning. I also gain great clarity into their growing expertise, which I tap in future lessons and sessions. This is not to say that publication and celebration are without value. They simply happen at a different time and for a very different purpose. Exhibition is about paying our learning forward so that others might benefit from it. This is how we become writers. It’s how we become a writing community too.
Interested in organizing an exhibition of your own?
This tool can help you, and if you have trouble downloading, just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll happily mail you the pdf.
This photo album includes pictures from previous exhibitions, including photos of writers preparing to share and others in the process of doing so. I’ll add more to this collection over time.
Many of our writers share their thinking and their work in online networks as well. We exhibit our learning here, on the WNY Young Writers Studio blog, in our Facebook group, on Twitter, and in other spaces almost daily. Take a peek at what Studio fellows are teaching writers about notebook keeping at Amy Ludwig Vanderwater’s beautiful home on the web: Sharing Our Notebooks. You’ll want to curl up with your device and stay a while once you arrive.