Participants filled out surveys after 6 and 8 week workshops, including the question "What did you enjoy most?"
"I feel like I've been living under fairy dust. The workshop has been so much fun - fascinating to hear the other writers, and to hear the strengthening of their voices."
"Sharing the same deep interest with others I just met. Self-expression, connection with others and myself, joy, peace, writing, sharing, getting feedback."
"Having an open space where I really felt comfortable sharing my writing and thoughts. Overall I really enjoyed the experience. Ellen was a great facilitator and really had an easy-going personality that made the session better and more relaxed."
"The way that only positive reinforcement was allowed."
"The sharing and the feedback. And the bread!"
"Leaving my inner critic behind and relaxing to write what I wanted - the prompts really helped. ... Loved the bread!"
"I loved the ritual, the ways in which the assignments were relayed, the breathing exercise."
"The notion of responding in only positive ways is, I think, very helpful and teaches us to look for and remember what speaks to us. I also find the randomness of ages, genders, backgrounds, etc. to contribute to depth and breadth of expression. Thank you!"
"Hearing the various voices in the room. The overall method of listening to one another."
"The volunteer sharing."
"I really enjoyed (and found very helpful) your "games," reading aloud to the group and receiving feedback, and probably especially the prompts you gave. I also really appreciated not being forced to read aloud. ... I really enjoyed your workshop and wish it was longer!! I think my writing will definitely be better as a result. Thank you for being such a good teacher!"
"Listening to others' writing."
"The assignments were good inspiration hearing the other writings. The bread! I liked the chance to socialize before and after."
"The structure and instruction taking "personal" and emotional pressures away from the author. Lasting a bit longer would be nice!"
"Sharing stories, great prompts, bread. Loved the group dynamics, very positive."
"Writing about anything and not being judged!"
"The comfortable environment provided by the facilitator. Simply great! Enjoyed a lot! Thank you."
"The 'focus' beginning was especially intriguing and will serve to 'prep' me in a more consistent way. ... I liked the variations of the prompts in that no importance, per se, was placed on the style, content or pertinence but the exercise mindset was established and reinforced. This will definitely help me coordinate a productive approach to some ideas I have. ... Ellen was far more supportive than she let on. She targeted the love of writing first, then casually kept the flow moving through pregnant pauses and other situations that might have been awkward for anyone else. I liked her creative personality and I wish her well."
"Ellen was wonderful at explaining the process, providing the prompts and in creating a calm and productive environment. Loved the chimes."
"Style of quick feedback. Open setting."
"Hearing others' work was inspiring and fun. The safe environment really allowed for that. (Thanks to Ellen for making it so!) ... I really appreciated the advice offered to help me overcome my "block" - it really seemed to work for me."
"The sharing aspect of the writings we wrote. It helped to encourage; the ability to write what I have within. ... I liked the teacher's personable nature. You could really relate to her and made writing feel like everyone could do it."
Q: Do I have to share my writing?
A: Absolutely not! Most participants are, however, surprised at how easy it becomes to share their raw writing efforts. The security and trust in groups is palpable, but the choice is always yours, with every write.