Writing with the Soul Workshop

Three years ago New York Times bestselling author, Adrienne Young, quietly launched a workshop aimed at writers, but clearly stated she wasn’t going to teach you about story structure or the craft of writing. Say what now? If you find yourself asking why would anyone pay money to NOT learn how to write, you are not alone.

Because the simplest answer is, this workshop will change your life. You will hear some form or echo of that statement throughout writing communities from the people who have taken this workshop. I have been trying to find the words that can accurately describe what this workshop is and what it can do for your writing and I keep coming back to that simple but oh so open ended answer: it will truly change your life.

You can’t hear story magic without thinking of Adrienne Young and that is exactly what this workshop delivers. Its magic will unlock something in your mind and soul that you will carry with you for the rest of your life. It is about uncovering YOUR unique blend of personal experiences, emotional depth, and creative vision. It will trickle into every aspect of your writing and will leave you with a little glowing ember of what if . . .

If you don’t believe me I highly encourage you to watch the introduction to Writing with the Soul from Adrienne Young herself below.

So what does it mean to write with the soul? Ultimately it’s about making the connections to the story magic that already exists within you, the intimate relationship between storytelling and yourself. Adrienne Young compares it to familiar phrases such as bleeding on the page or breathing life into a story. The writing will comes from a sacred place within you, where you follow the threads of your own inner magic, allowing your true essence to guide your storytelling.

To help you achieve this, the workshop is broken down into four weeks, each week focusing on one of the main themes of perspective, voice, conviction, and process. At the start of each week Adrienne Young shares an in depth video of that weeks topic to go along with the workbook. The corresponding section of the workbook includes practical writing exercises and prompts that require an honest look at your past experiences, ideals, and hopes. At the end of each week is a live Q&A on Instagram with Adrienne Young herself.

I was slated to attend the November 2021 round of Writing with the Soul. But it wasn’t until the summer of 2022 that I was finally able to start this workshop. On my own unfortunately. It wasn’t something I had planned for, but sometimes my medical problems and chronic pain decide for me. So my experience may not be the same as yours. However, if for some reason you are not able to attend this live or choose to do it at your own pace, you will still be able to experience the workshop the way it was intended.

Perspective. This is the most important week of the entire workshop and I suggest you set aside as much time as you possible can for this section. Adjust your work/school schedule. Find a babysitter. Go to a coffee shop or library away from home distractions. You need to give this week all of you. It will be worth it. Your perspective is unique to you based on your life experiences, trauma and hurts, your spirituality or beliefs, and so much more.

To get the most out of this week you need to do a deep and honest introspective look at yourself. Do not hold back and do not judge. I found it helpful to journal and asked some close family members for their insights when working through the exercises and prompts. This is the ah-ha moment, where the magic of the workshop first comes to life and you can feel everything falling into place. This is where you understand what Adrienne Young is trying to teach us.

Voice. The workshop is intended for writers with all levels of experience. However, I recommend you come into this week with a polished sample or two from your drafts. It can be the first couple chapters or even 10-15 pages from the middle of your story that you feel good about. Then comes the hardest part of this entire workshop. You need to share them with your group. Do not skip this part. Don’t worry they won’t be critiquing the story itself. They are going to help you discover the most elusive thing of this workshop. Your voice.

Remember, I took this workshop alone and not with my intended group. Queue a rushed version of me hastily throwing together an Instagram story asking for help from alumni who wanted to critique my work. I quickly edited the first chapter from a work in progress, sent it to seven people who were interested in helping, and left for an appointment not really expecting much. BUT PEOPLE LIKED IT. I got the most amazing positive feedback on my voice and in fact one of the alumni asked to be a reader of any future work I wanted to share with her.

Conviction. Stop being afraid to call yourself a writer. I am guilty of calling myself an aspiring writer because I was so scared that people would size me up and determine that I was fake and a wanna-be. I felt like I wasn’t one of the darlings of Instagram and was afraid to speak and take up space there. I didn’t realize I was doing a disservice to myself and my work by not owning up to being a writer. Adrienne Young explains that if your writing lacks conviction then you’ve already sent your book to the afterlife. Dead on arrival. If you write, you are a writer. Own it.

After the soul-searching in week one and the voice feedback of week two you will be ready to develop your writer’s creed. This is probably the most powerful tool you will take away from the workshop. Your creed will serve as the North Star or your compass when you are feeling lost. It’s is your truth that will keep you grounded and you can turn to when you are not feeling confident in who you are or what you are writing. As you develop your creed you will see familiar words and themes from the first two weeks. There it is again, that magic of connecting who you are to your storytelling.

Process. There is no true way and every story has a will of its own. I’d like to think that Adrienne Young purposely placed process as the last week because she makes it very clear that there is no formula to writing a book. That can be a little disheartening for writers to hear. But anyone who tells you differently is simply sharing how they found THEIR way. By this point in the workshop you should have a solid foundation of understanding who you are as a writer and are ready to follow the beat of your own drum.

We have finally made it to the heart of the workshop, the story magic. How you get the story out of your head and onto the page is a process wholly unique to you. You won’t know what your process is until you get there. And how you implement that process is how you determine if you are writing with the soul. Be willing to deviate from what is known to work, hold your story gently and listen to what it needs, and trust in yourself as the storyteller.

This workshop will always hold a special space in my heart. Every morning while it was still dark out, I would sit down with a cup of coffee, scented candles, and music (if you are interested in my playlist it can be found on Spotify). I would recommend journaling throughout the process as well because I love being able to go back and read about my journey. Completing Writing with the Soul is just the beginning, you will continue to grow into the storyteller you are meant to be.

Spots are limited each round of the workshop. If you know this is something you absolutely want to attend please sign up for the waitlist because they fill fast. They also offer grants and scholarships for those with financial barriers. Also, don’t go wild like me and purchase all the merchandise. The look and vibe of Writing with the Soul has changed over the years. So maybe only pick the things that make your heart sing. Something new and different will be always be available down the road.

Today Writing with the Soul has grown into something so much more than just the workshop Adrienne Young started as a way to connect with other writers during the pandemic. It has expanded into writing retreats, research trips, drafting clubs, query camps, mentorships, the Black Heart Society and the brand new Conservatory. It is a community of writers from over 22 countries, many who have signed with literary agents, sold their first books to a publisher, or successfully launched their indie author careers.

At the very least you will walk away from this workshop with a new commitment to YOUR unique story magic and be surrounded by a beautiful community of writers. Even if you end up silently following #wwtsalumni like me (because making friends is hard), you will never be alone. Your fellow storytellers are out there courageously sharing parts of their journey. The good, the bad, and the yes, even the ugly crying. Because they do everything from their hearts and souls.

Come find us when you are ready.

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