Workshops

We are primarily a teaching organization. We’ve run workshops of one kind or another in 25 states and had more than 3500 participants come through our programs. Our writing instructors are veterans who are also working writers, and who hold graduate writing credentials. We welcome any veteran, and service member, and any of their adult family members to our no-cost workshops.

Creative Writing

This is our core programming. We offer two-day intensive seminars covering the principal elements of creative writing including scene, setting, dialogue, narrative structure, plot, and point of view. Whether you’re a poet, playwright, novelist, memoirist, the elements of the craft remain the same: A scene is a scene, dialogue is dialogue. We also offer genre specific workshops in creative non-fiction, memoir, poetry, fiction, and playwriting. In all of our workshops participants will have the opportunity to create new work based on prompts. In our genre specific workshops participants are invited to share work (new or existing) among the group and get feedback from peers and professional writers.

Songwriting

We also offer songwriting workshops. Our workshops are structured for veterans and family members who have some familiarity with an instrument, but we welcome anyone with an interest in songwriting or learning an instrument (guitar or ukelele) to join. The seminars in the workshop cover music theory, song structures, melody, harmony, and lyrics. These are hands-on workshops where participants will learn strategies and techniques of the craft of songwriting, and then put those into practice to create their own songs.

We use our own curriculum but we also partner with Soldier Songs and Voices, a collective of professional songwriters and veterans based out of Austin and Nashville, to bring the best songwriters and teachers possible to our workshops. SSV has chapters across the country, and we’re proud to lead the chapter in Damariscotta, Maine along with our partner there, The Peace Gallery.

Therapeutic

Almost since our inception we have worked alongside medical professionals to develop and present expressive/therapeutic writing programs in research and treatment facilities around the country. With the help of research and medical professionals like James Pennebaker, Robert Sapolsky, Jonathan Shay, and Ron Koshes we created an expressive writing curriculum for use at the Department of Defense’s premier research and treatment facility for PTSD and TBI, the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center—it’s now in use at more than a dozen DoD and VA treatment facilities around the country. From 2012 to 2019 we  facilitated weekly workshops alongside creative arts therapists at NICoE and other facilities for DoD, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Our work in expressive writing has been informed, guided, evaluated, and overseen by medical doctors, researchers, recreational and creative arts therapists, and integrative medicine professionals. And our director and curriculum developer is trained as a recreational therapist and integrative health specialist. We would be happy to discuss expanding our work to include additional medical, research, and therapeutic programs. You can contact our director at ron@veteranswriting.org for more information.

Outdoor

If you find yourself bouncing off the walls, remove the walls.

Medical research from around the world takes note of the health benefits of being outside. In some countries doctors can actually prescribe a trip to the forest for a patient. But medicine is just catching up to what artists have known pretty much forever. Hiking, paddling, or simply being in nature can help us gain a sense proportion. Staring in the face of a coming storm, watching an eagle soar and swoop on the hunt, or taking in a sunrise atop a hill or on the beach remind us that there are forces at work larger than those inside our heads. Among a group of people who once dedicated their lives to something greater than themselves, some of whom came home disillusioned, or with moral injuries, this sense of perspective—of awe—can illuminate new paths to creativity and to peace.

So we run some of our workshops in natural or wilderness environments. We’ve partnered in the past with The Wilderness Society and are working to continue our outdoor programming. If your organization is interested in partnering with us in this, please reach out to our director Ron Capps, at ron@veteranswriting.org.