Writing the Tough Stuff for Teens

In fall 2019, Creative Nonfiction hosted an intensive writing workshop, “Writing the Tough Stuff,” for young people to write about challenges that concern them, such as sexuality, gender identity, bullying, mental illness, and more. This project expanded and built on the successes of Creative Nonfiction’s 2018 “Writing Away the Stigma” program.

Lead teacher Julie Albright and teaching assistant Bekezela Mguni worked with a cohort of 12 participants during 8 weekly sessions held at the Creative Nonfiction office in Pittsburgh.

The writing workshop goals were to ...

  • create a workshop space in which each writer felt heard, safe, and valued
  • develop a sense of community and connection among workshop members
  • talk about our place in our broader communities and our roles as writers
  • help participants develop tools for stronger storytelling
  • create a body of drafts & final pieces to share at the graduation reading
  • honor pain and allow for humor

The curriculum also included lessons focused on giving an engaging reading in preparation for a “graduation” reading. That event, held at White Whale Bookstore on December 13, was an opportunity for participants to share their work with each other and their families as well as with the larger community.

Listen to some of the workshop participants read from their works-in-process at The Saturday Light Brigade: NOV 30 and DEC 14