Today marks our 3rd birthday since opening The Detroit Writing Room on June 15, 2019. For our first nine months, we hosted coaching sessions, book talks, writing workshops, open mic nights and other fun culture events. (Our cupcake and coffee tastings were among my favorites!)
On Feb. 29, 2020, we packed the space with over 100 people who came to celebrate a new book release.
Just a few days later, Covid stopped the physical writing room dead in its tracks.
It’s now three years later, and the lease for our DWR space on Washington Boulevard ends this summer. After a lot of thought and consideration, we will be officially closing the physical space at the end of July.
The primary reason: Covid disrupted all plans for our in-person workshops, events, private rentals, co-working and coaching. We've hung onto the physical space in hopes things would be different by now, but the future with this virus is still wildly unpredictable.
While we will be giving up the current physical location, this does not mean the end of The Detroit Writing Room, New York Writing Room or Coaching Detroit Forward, our nonprofit arm.
The DWR has adapted and thrived with online coaching, events and, most prominently, with our nonprofit, award-winning journalism and photography camps for high school students. Many of these programs will carry on virtually, connecting authors and writers and students from around the U.S. In the months ahead, we plan to partner with venues across Detroit to host select in-person book talks and workshops. (More details to come!)
As many of you are reading this from someplace outside of Detroit, we have reached a bigger audience than we ever imagined because of our virtual offerings. For someone who launched a business to help Detroiters, I couldn’t believe it when we started getting workshop participants from as far as Spain, France and even Australia! Then poets from London and India started joining our virtual open mic nights and befriending Detroit poets. It was a beautiful thing to watch.
I saw that writers nationwide enjoyed tapping into Detroit’s grit and creativity. But I also discovered that the writing room concept didn’t need a physical space. That’s why we opened the virtual New York Writing Room in 2020 with a team of coaches based in New York City.
Ultimately, my dream writing room for fellow writers turned into a “virtual” room during the pandemic.
Since March 2020, we’ve helped people across the country and world tell their stories. After hundreds of sessions, our coaches have worked with writers in nearly every state. With their guidance and editing, countless novels, non-fiction books, memoirs, children’s books, short stories and articles have been published in the last three years (and many more will be released soon!)
We’ve also hosted over 80 author talks through our book parties and DWR Book Club, this year in partnership with the Wayne State University Press. Readers nationwide had the opportunity to meet bestselling authors, including former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, Rochelle Riley, Suneel Gupta, Tony Schwartz and other prominent public figures. And we’ve had a blast organizing virtual book parties for new releases. (Reach out if you’re coming out with a book!)
By the end of this summer, we will have helped 100 students nationwide learn storytelling and photography from over 40 professional journalists and photographers. Many of these students have won awards from Society for Professional Journalists' Detroit chapter for their work published in Perspectives Magazine. Thanks to the Fisher Foundation, Dow Jones News Fund, local businesses and individual supporters, we were able to launch Coaching Detroit Forward during the height of the pandemic and keep these experiences free for Detroit students. We have high hopes for continuing to grow and reach even more students in the years to come.
It’s been a three-year roller coaster, no doubt. And it’s hard to believe that much time has passed since I hunted down Detroit photographs, books, furniture and other relics for the DWR space.
I want to thank you for your support if you’ve been with us since we got the physical DWR up and running in 2019. And I'm grateful for everyone nationwide who has joined our community in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Whether you’ve attended a coaching session, workshop, book talk or other event, the coaches and I have loved getting to know you and helping you get your words into the world.
Onto the next chapter...
Anyone who would like to support the DWR and all our creative endeavors can sign up for a virtual membership. Memberships include discounts on coaching and workshops and other fun perks like purple pens and a copy of Perspectives Magazine produced by high school students in our camps. Through Friday, we’re giving 25% off memberships with the code DWR3BIRTHDAY.