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Local high school students boost their writing skills at the Pittsburg Public Library on Tuesday, Jan. 22. The group was gathered for the first meeting of the Writer's Block Creative Writing Workshop. Levi DeWitt

Pittsburg library offering writing workshop for teens

Pittsburg Public Library is offering a fiction writing workshop for teenagers led by Pitt State assistant professor of creative writing Lori Martin. 

The “Writer’s Block” workshop meets every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. from Jan. 22 to Feb. 26 at the library and is available for teens grade 6-12.  Each week will feature Martin, as well as other PSU staff, discussing one aspect of literary craft along with writing prompts to help students find their voice and foster creativity. 

“What we hope is that with professors, faculty and also grad students coming in and working with the students is that by the end, students will have at least one story they feel confident with that they created,” Martin said. 

Allie Zornes, a Northeast High School junior, saw Writer’s Block as an opportunity to meet others who shared her passion. 

“I’ve always really liked writing,” Zornes said.  “It’s probably been my number one obsession.  I have always wanted to find likeminded people.” 

Martin hopes that Writer’s Block not only allows students with similar values to create together, but also act as an outlet to express themselves in front of others. 

“We write for an audience,” Martin said.  “Even writing alone in our rooms, we’re thinking about audience.  That’s why it’s written, otherwise it would just be in our heads, and so we’re writing and putting it on paper.”   

In addition to being an assistant professor, Martin has also published fiction and poetry for magazines such as Room Magazine, the Midwest Quarterly, the Iowa Review, and Kansas Time and Place.  Having received her bachelors of arts and masters of arts degrees from PSU and her master of fine arts degree from the University of Iowa, she believes well-developed writing skills are an excellent addition to anyone’s skillset. 

“I feel like writing is enriching, and good writers are good writers across the board,” Martin said.  “That is a form of communication that is desirable even if you don’t become a world famous writer.  The techniques you learn as a creative writer serve you in almost any area of your life.” 

While the process of writing can be fulfilling, the private thoughts and feelings that are expressed can sometimes make sharing difficult.  

“I was a little frightened,” Zornes said.  “I didn’t know how much we would have to read out loud, how personal it would get.  That was a little bit scary.” 

Martin did not have any groups or workshops to attend at their age and understands the students’ apprehension, and has made it a focal point of Writer’s Block.  

“I wish I had that… Not just to have somebody listen to it but also somebody who thought kind of the way that I thought, and valued the same things I valued, which was the creative expression of thoughts and story,” she said.  “It would have been very valuable to me.  I want the kids who come here to feel supported.  I want them to feel like what they write is valued because it’s coming from the deepest parts of their hearts.  That’s what writing is.” 

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