“I never really know what I think about anything unless I’ve written about it. So although I sometimes sort through happenings in my spiritual life in conversation, I more often sort through them on paper. In my book, Still, for example, I have a chapter examining my coming to a place in life where I couldn’t or wouldn’t pray. I didn’t really understand why that had happened—why I had stopped praying—until I had written about it and rewritten. I came into real understanding well after 10 drafts of that chapter. Similarly, I never get very far with Scripture if I’m just reading it or hearing it read aloud. I get further if I am writing about a passage of Scripture.”
What makes for compelling spiritual writing—writing that opens up the ordinary, yet sometimes dramatic tensions between spiritual faith and human life?
In this workshop, we’ll explore the genre of spiritual writing at the level of craft and technique—and we’ll also talk about what inspires us, and how to publish what we write. We will ask questions such as: How do I write about spiritual or religious experiences without lapsing into cliché? How do I craft a believable and trustworthy narrator? How can I transform life experience into an elegantly shaped essay?
We will meet five times as a group to workshop one another’s prose, discuss sterling examples of spiritual writing, and explore writing exercises designed to improve craft. We will also reserve large chunks of the day for writing, so come with a project or two that you want to start, revise, rethink, play with, or polish.
This workshop, co-sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina, will be hosted at the Lake Logan Conference Center. The workshop is limited to 12 participants.
It’s hard for me not to gush. Lauren is punctual, strong, witty, commanding, and powerful. The writing exercises were lively and creative, like little literary firestarters; her instruction on the structure and architecture of a book tied seamlessly with her instruction about words, sentences, and voice. This seems like a first-rate MFA-level seminar from a generous, masterful instructor.
—participant in “Revision, Christian Spirituality, and the Writing Life: A Week with Lauren Winner,” Summer 2017
Participants will be expected to have a 15- to 25-page piece of creative non-fiction prose ready by September 1 to share with other workshop participants. These pages should be something that you are in the midst of working on and want feedback on. This can be an essay, a book chapter, a series of linked flash pieces, or it might be a sustained piece of writing whose shape you don’t yet know (but not a sermon, disconnected or previously posted blog posts, or an academic journal article). It does not need to be the writing sample you submitted for admission. This piece will be read and discussed by everyone in the workshop. It should be a piece that you do not imagine revising substantially between the time of submission and the workshop.
Some advance reading and/or writing may be required in preparation for the workshop.
The application deadline for this workshop has now passed.