SHERIDAN — The Wyoming Writing Project is calling all Sheridan area writers — young, old, veteran and rookie — to join in on a writing marathon on July 1.
The group will gather on the Sheridan College campus in the Watt Agricultural Building at 3401 Coffeen Ave. at 1 p.m. People will divide into groups and pick a few locations around Sheridan to visit, based on a list of suggested writing spots.
They’ll then trek around town from spot to spot, ideally visiting two or three. The group will sit quietly and write for 10-15 minutes, then read aloud to their group for the same amount of time.
Organizer Amy Spiker, of the University of Wyoming-based Wyoming Writing Project said reading your work to the group is optional but recommended.
“This is one of the best parts of the marathon — being able to have a safe place to share your writing and be vulnerable,” she said.
Spiker did her first writing marathon with the Missouri Writing Project. The location selected to inspire writers that day? The old psychiatric hospital.
“I went, ‘What in the world?’” Spiker said.
But she said the experience helped her and her fellow writers come together as a group.
“It’s just a cool way to bond over writing,” Spiker said. “And you can write anything, so everyone has an opportunity to feel like a writer, everyone has an opportunity to get something down on paper.”
Spiker said writers also gain a new perspective on the sites they visit during a writing marathon.
For instance, Spiker said there was some controversy over a sculpture at the courthouse in Laramie because it was colorful and playful-looking and, Spiker thought, people felt it was flippant.
But after spending time there during a writing marathon and looking at it more closely, Spiker saw it as a valid representation of state history, touching on bison, coal trains and homesteading days.
It took her time, however, to notice this.
There aren’t strict rules for the writing marathon and participants can write short stories, poems or anything else they like. The event might spark an idea that leads to a longer writing project down the road. For instance, writing next to the colorful Laramie history sculpture led one participant to submit a letter to the editor about their new thoughts on the artwork.
Spiker said a list of writing marathon sites in Sheridan is still in the works, but she’s confident it won’t be hard to find good options.
“Sheridan, my goodness, anywhere outside,” she said. “You can’t help but be inspired by that view.”
Matt Johnson, an English teacher at Sheridan High School and a teacher consultant with the Wyoming Writing Project, is looking forward to the day.
“I’ve never done one before but I’m really excited to try it,” he said.
Johnson encourages his students to push beyond their comfort zone and he thinks this could be a great opportunity to do just that.
“I tell my students to go do things, go try things, go have new life experiences,” he said. “And something like this is pretty unique.”
The project is the afternoon portion of a professional development day for teachers. Spiker said the Wyoming Writing Project’s idea is that for people to effectively teach students to write, they must feel comfortable with their own writing.
Laramie and Thayne, in western Wyoming, will also host writing marathons this July.
The writing marathon is open to all and does not require registration. For more information, contact Amy Spiker at 307-766-4872 or email@example.com.