The Weal's Spiritual Writing Workshop

There’s never a dull moment at the Weal’s monthly events.

This past Saturday, we hosted a workshop on spiritual writing. The discussion was scheduled to take place at a bar in Brooklyn, but an unusually large crowd for an afternoon at a dive intervened. The Palm Sunday pre-gamers were apparently out in full force. Fortunately, our short journey to find another spot turned out to be great chance to catch up or get to know each other.

The workshop was expertly led by Commonweal’s Editorial Assistant Maria Bowler. We discussed over sundry craft beers the forms of spiritual writing, problems to avoid when writing, and practical advice on publishing. We read excerpts from Richard Rodriguez, Annie Dillard, and Christian Wiman. We learned that good spiritual writing can have a gritty side, and that metaphors and similes are often inferior to descriptive accounts. And we figured out (with the help of selections from Rowan Williams) that avoiding the cardinal sin of spiritual writing—speaking from the “armchair”—means including yourself among the condemned.  

Maria began with a definition of spiritual writing that set the tone not only for her workshop but for the gathering itself: “Spiritual writing tracks the soul in relationship to something outside of itself.” All of us participated with each other—relating our selves those around us.

We hope that you'll join us at our next event. We’ll even buy you a drink.

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