Writers enter Advent season in “Waiting For Words” December 11, 2023 By Collegeville Institute 1 Comment From December 4-8, the Collegeville Institute hosted Waiting For Words: An Advent Writing Workshop at the Avila Center for Community Leadership in Durham, NC. In this five-day workshop led by Lauren Winner, writers entered the season of Advent with prayerful attention and focus, and a variety of creative exercises designed to summon their words. This workshop emphasized creation rather than critique: each day, participants were given prompts, exercises, time to write, and opportunities to make play and experimentation a part of their process. “I loved that it was a generative workshop rather than an editorial one. It really helped to break open my practice again,” wrote one participant in their workshop evaluation. “I learned that it’s all right just to try!” wrote another. As part of its focus on exploration, this workshop also incorporated art and music, with the understanding that engaging with other forms of creative work can spark creativity in our writing. Inspired by the Benedictine spiritual practice of Lectio Divina (holy reading), the group visited the Nasher Art Museum to experience Visio Divina (sacred seeing) by looking at several pieces of art specific to the Advent Season and considering what the art brought forth in them. The group also attended a concert by The King’s Singers with the idea of thinking about rhythm—an important element of both music and writing. As a facilitator, Lauren created space for genuine creative growth. “She has a way of drawing the very best work out of people,” wrote one workshop participant. She is “an expert writing guide,” wrote another, “patient, generous, firm, and intending for our growth and nourishment.” A third wrote, “She’s the best writing instructor I’ve ever had. Her ability to weave the creative writing pieces with the spiritual pieces is genius.” Participants learned much that they’ll take with them. Several commented that they plan to utilize specific exercises from the workshop, like using prompts and writing haiku, as a regular part of their writing practice. Others described making breakthroughs on essays and manuscripts they’d previously felt stuck on. Finally, participants expressed gratitude for the community formed in this retreat: “I feel like I’ve gained a small army of help and love that will stay with me beyond even this week.” Like this post? Subscribe to have new posts sent to you by email the same day they are posted.