Workshops offer readers & writers the chance to work directly with Festival speakers and other expert faculty for a generative, pre-conference experience.
Taking place on Wednesday, April 10, the day before Festival begins, Workshop Wednesday is an optional day to focus on your writing and personal development—or to try something new.
The number of participants for each workshop is limited to ensure a valuable, personal workshop experience. Workshop spaces are allotted on a first-come, first-served basis with payment.
Workshops & the Festival
All workshops take place the day before Festival begins (Wednesday, April 10) and do not conflict with any Festival events. Workshop participants are not required to attend Festival in the days that follow (April 11-13). However, all registered Festival attendees are eligible for a discounted Workshop rate, so be sure to register for the Festival first if you are planning to attend both the Festival and Workshop Wednesday. For more information about Festival 2024 or to register for the Festival, click here.
Details for each are listed below. Choose from full-day (6 hours with a break for lunch) or half-day (3 hours, AM or PM) workshops.
If you choose to enroll in both a morning and afternoon workshop, please check session times carefully when registering to ensure you do not double-book yourself.
If you are planning to attend both the Festival of Faith & Writing and a Workshop, please register for the Festival first in order to receive a discount on your workshop tuition.
Full Day Workshops
9am-12pm & 2pm-5pm
Join Enneagram Master Suzanne Stabile as she guides you through discerning your particular personality type within the wisdom of this ancient spiritual tool. Know Your Number is a foundational course and is the first step in working with the Enneagram. In this workshop, Suzanne introduces the nine Enneagram Types: Challenger, Peacemaker, Perfectionist, Helper, Performer, Romantic, Investigator, Loyalist, Enthusiast.
Each personality type is reviewed in detail, including an evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the Types, and the likely interpersonal challenges that may be involved in an unhealthy expression of the Type.
This workshop is perfect for those who want to discover their Enneagram number or are still unsure about their Enneagram number. Already know your number? You’ll gain a deeper understanding of your number and learn more about where you go in stress and security.
Sometimes a reader will suggest you revise by simply doing X or Y, like adding salt to a dish; more often, readers chat about the many ways in which your story tasted kind of “off,” but can’t or won’t put a finger on the missing ingredient. How do we develop and trust our own palate, and what are the similarities and differences between “fixing” fiction and fixing a soup?
This class will present and then put into practice techniques for successful fiction revision on three levels: from ruthless line-editing; to moderate alterations, additions, deletions; to wholesale re-envisioning of stalled or stale stories. We’ll use readings, discussion, and a variety of exercises to add to our revision toolboxes. Participants are encouraged to bring two pieces of their own writing: one that’s ready for fine-tuning, and one that might be in need of more serious intervention.
Participants may also be asked to do some pre-workshop reading. If so, more details will be provided closer to the date of the workshop.
Morning Half Day Workshops
This workshop will focus on the acquisitions process for poetry, hybrid work, and prose with a particular emphasis on innovative multicultural writing.
Questions we will consider include: To what extent is selecting work a political act, a form of literary activism, an intervention into the existing canon? How do editors become more aware of (and move beyond) their own limited viewpoints and aesthetic predilections? To what extent does a revolutionary message require new forms of discourse, and how can acquisitions in publishing help facilitate a decolonization of the imagination?
Participants will leave the workshop with new strategies for developing inclusive acquisitions practices, as well as a resource packet and step-by-step guides to implementing several progressive acquisitions models.
Learn the art of making your own well-crafted small books at home, with minimal materials and minimal expense. Discover the joy of being able to share your writing without depending on traditional publishers.
All materials will be provided, and everyone will help make their own copy of a chapbook.
Interested in learning more about the practice of mindfulness within a Christian framework? Based on key concepts from The Mindful Christian: Cultivating a Life of Intentionality, Openness, and Faith, author and psychologist Irene Kraegel will provide an overview of Christian mindfulness that is both theoretical and experiential. Participants will leave with an understanding of how, when, and where mindfulness can be practiced in the life of a Christian—as well as with an experience of mindfulness meditation to help usher them into this year’s Festival of Faith and Writing.
In every form of communication, what you say is deeply formed by who you are speaking to. And yet, many aspiring and accomplished writers have never created a personal and comprehensive profile of their target audience at their own peril.
As critically-acclaimed authors Margaret Feinberg and Jonathan Merritt say, "If you fail to define your audience, you'll end up without one." In this workshop, these veteran writing coaches will lead participants in a unique process to create individualized audience profiles, hone their writing voice, and communicate with empathy, compassion, and authority.
At the opposite end of the epic is the single breath. The challenge of the very, very short short story—known by many names, from “flash fiction” to “twitterature”—is to embody all the essential elements of story into very few words. Doing so hones one’s skills and sensibility for much longer works of fiction.
This workshop will explore this story-telling form, including the writing of such stories together, to deepen both our understanding of fiction and our ability to tell stories well.
Too often, those of us who want to write struggle against the blockades in our own heads: Writing is selfish. I'm not smart enough. I don't have enough followers. There's laundry to do. Some of us are overwhelmed with the stories burning holes in our hearts but don't know how or where to begin writing them.
Then there are those who would rather do anything other than write: elementary students just learning to read, middle school students who insist they hate to write, college students who are only taking Freshman English because they have to.
Using picture books, poetry, newspaper articles, writing prompts and discussion, veteran teacher and writer Callie Feyen will share strategies to help writers in both of these groups get unstuck.
Whether you feel like you are stuck yourself, or you’re a teacher who wants to help your students, you’ll walk away with a toolbox of reading and writing tips, and a renewed belief that even when writing is not easy, we all have stories to share.
Want to discover what delights the hearts of agents and publishers when they’re reading a book proposal? Learn the most effective ways to communicate that you will deliver what they want and need to see: a concept that’s unique, a growing platform, and a well-structured book with well-chosen words that serve the reader. And you’ll have the opportunity to hone, workshop, and share a few pieces of the proposal for the book that’s in your heart. When we finish, you’ll know how to dazzle an agent or publisher!
What historical character have you wanted to hear from? What Biblical characters could you bring to life? Native American voices and Biblical women are two disconnected areas from which author Diane Glancy writes, though there are many similarities. In her work, Glancy gives voice to those that have been bypassed by history, seeking to find the erased voices and explore what they could have said.
This workshop gives a perusal of the tools needed to give voice to those who did not have a chance to speak.
In her reflection on the parable of the Good Samaritan, philosopher Simone Weil writes that “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” The stories and images that garner our attention can also grow (or constrict) our capacity to be more lovingly attentive to our neighbor.
In this interactive workshop, Dr. Elissa Weichbrodt and Dr. Mary McCampbell will lead us in an exploration of the ways that the arts can help cultivate an empathetic imagination. Our workshop time will focus on both theory (theological impetus) and practice (methodology/engagement).
For many years, writers have defined nonfiction by what it isn’t: it’s not fiction. Recently, though, there’s been a move towards wondering what else nonfiction can do.
In this workshop, we’ll consider what happens when nonfiction veers away from fictional techniques (scene, character, and setting in memoir; reflection and telling in essays) and towards borrowing what’s usually considered the “stuff” of poetry: gaps and silences, interesting structures, and lyrical language.
Alongside discussing how the poetic can be used in nonfiction, participants in this workshop will have a chance to craft their own lyric essays.
In this workshop Kenneth will explain his own process for writing and illustrating picture books, give a primer on navigating the children's publishing industry and discuss common pitfalls (artistic, emotional and professional).
Bring your questions. There may also be time to have your work-in-progress read. If you have a manuscript or book dummy that you would be comfortable discussing in front of the group - bring a copy with identifiers removed.
This will be a fun, relaxed discussion about all that goes into making picture books.
Hike-ku, anyone? A feet-on-the-ground writing workshop for lovers of nature in all literary genres. We will meet in the Calvin Ecosystem Preserve behind the Prince Conference Center and venture into the nature preserve as weather allows.
Afternoon Half Day Workshops
A memoir is an invitation, welcoming readers to come along on a personal journey with the author. In this workshop, author Jennifer Grant will provide a brief review of memoir basics (How is memoir different than autobiography? What does "theme" mean in memoir? Can I take liberties with names or other details? Do I have to tell my story chronologically?) before digging deeper and providing examples, exercises, and instruction on identifying why you're writing a memoir, finding your voice, recognizing your readers' felt needs, telling the truth (without betraying or antagonizing the people closest to you), choosing which parts of your story to tell, structuring your memoir, and crafting a writing schedule and setting deadlines that you will keep…and more.
This workshop will offer a dual focus on book publicity and course adoption initiatives. Questions we will consider include: How can editors actively build community around innovative multicultural texts? And what steps can editors take to ensure that their books are adopted into educators’ curriculum, boosting sales as well as creating conversation and dialogue around a particular book? How can a book publicity campaign also serve the goals of mentorship and community stewardship?
Participants will leave the workshop with new strategies for building community around books, as well as example materials and a step-by-step guide to creating innovative book publicity campaigns and course adoption initiatives.
The power of personal essays and memoir derives from the glimpse they provide into the writer's interior life: the private drama of thoughts and emotions, beliefs and doubts, joys and fears.
In this workshop, we'll discuss how to transform our personal, subjective experience into a story that appeals to a wider readership. We'll read and discuss each other's work and explore some writers who successfully transcend the particulars of their lives so that their stories make a larger point.
The workshop will conclude with a discussion of the current writing market and tips for how to craft personal stories that are capable of finding a wider audience.
Participants will submit a personal narrative of no more than 3,500 words to the instructor no later than March 15.
Texts like the Torah and New Testament are often presented as not only sacred but inviolate and above reproach. For many of us, this means these texts and their difficult subject matter can feel far from us, or so close and well known we can no longer really see them. Yet it is here we find the stories and rituals, commandments and prohibitions, that—whether or not we follow a religious tradition of our own—have shaped the world in which we live.
With close readings of work by poets including Marie Howe, Ada Limon, Leila Chatti, and Eleanor Wilner, in this workshop, Jessica Jacobs, author of unalone, a collection of poems in conversation with the Book of Genesis, will share how drawing on the ancient Jewish practice of midrashic inquiry, as well as the Jesuit practice of Ignatian Contemplation, can help us to delve into a text and find the stories and knowledge waiting beyond the surface layer of the page.
Writing about the natural world tends to eclipse one side or the other of the light: Either it piques our minds with factual knowledge or it sings to our souls with rhapsodic descriptions. The most satisfying nature writing does both, simultaneously. Whether it’s about an acorn or an Asian elephant, we learn the most current science and we fall enthralled under the spell of a creature’s presence. The whole of us engages, forming a relationship of wonder and respect with the subject.
This workshop will offer a few skills and a little practice in writing with such mind-soul equipoise.
All significant travel is a whole-person experience, involving not only the body, but also the mind, imagination, and spirit—as all good travel writing demonstrates. One special form of travel—pilgrimage—can, in fact, be described as physical travel for a spiritual destination. Writing about travel with a spiritual emphasis offers rich possibilities for simultaneously exploring the outer and inner world—in search of a connection between the two.
This workshop explores travel writing in general, but focuses on personal travel that has changed how you think and feel, whether in overtly spiritual terms or more indirectly.
Participants should identify for themselves in advance at least one significant travel experience of their own which they can explore in the workshop. If you've already written in this form, bring it with you.
From The Screwtape Letters to The Princess Diaries, many books feature epistolary elements, where a character’s innermost thoughts and feelings are explored through letters, emails, journal entries, texts, social media posts, and more. For example, Steven King’s first published novel, Carrie, is told mostly through letters, newspaper clippings, magazine articles, and excerpts from books. It is a remarkably effective strategy for developing character and advancing a narrative. Even if you’re using mostly traditional scenes and dialogue, incorporating an epistolary element can keep your reader engaged by both the content and form.
In this workshop, Daniel Bowman Jr. explain how he uses a variety of epistolary techniques in his autism memoir and forthcoming graphic novel, and you’ll have a chance to experiment with multiple epistolary strategies that will take your book to the next level.
In this workshop, you’ll learn the tricks behind the best stories as you discover how to make your writing more sticky, memorable, and transformative. You’ll discover images that supercharge your stories, discover how to create conflict to captivate your readers, and learn how to get personal to keep your audiences coming back for more.
Plus, learn the secrets Margaret Feinberg and Jonathan Merritt wish they would have known about being a trusted storyteller.
Near the beginning of his book, Desert Solitaire, environmental writer Edward Abbey describes his own view on art. “This is not a travel guide,” he writes, “but an elegy. A memorial. You’re holding a tombstone in your hands. A bloody rock. Don’t drop it on your foot—throw it at something big and glassy.” A tombstone, an elegy, a weapon: are these the best categories for thinking about activist art? And what does it mean for art to be activist? Or, as many 19th Century writers and poets put it, is art only art when it’s “l’art pour l’art,” art for art’s sake alone?
In this workshop, we’ll consider the history, theory, challenges, and opportunities of activist writing. Participants will also leave having tried out some new strategies for activist work on the page.
How do you combine explosiveness and brevity? Students will have the opportunity to experiment with the intersection of belief and the outside world. Participants will read and write with the eye of a writer to explore how a work is constructed and how the elements of craft come together to create a successful whole.
This workshop will explore how our own lives and the culture around us can be transformed by through the arts—especially writing, visual art, music, and filmmaking. We’ll take a close look at the work of some great creative voices, both past and present, to see how they have moved the discussion forward on social justice, as well as to examine how the arts can be used as tools for spiritual formation and growth. We’ll also focus on developing a personal spirituality of the task of writing and discuss ways that we can bring about personal and societal transformation through our work.
In this workshop, we’ll consider the role of “influence” in learning by example and cultivating a sense of experiment. The goal is to develop your voice and embed a personal logic in your sentences. We will examine writing across genres to understand how sentences move, and write riffs that resemble the originals.
The heart of the technique of moving beyond the riff, and inventing your own style, is listening. We will recite the sentences we’re creating, and combine speech with singing to see what changes. This is one way to push beyond the defining limits of what you think you can do.
You'll emerge with “new” sentences that embrace influence as a starting point for deeper reflections and the nourishing force for developing style that resembles none other—because it is the product of your mind, and your particular talents.