If Writers Program

The If Writers Program uses expressive writing and creative truth-telling to help currently incarcerated men and women explore their life experiences in ways that are revealing, empowering, and transformative. The focus on writing as a path to self-discovery allows participants to transform overwhelming and traumatizing experiences into sources of meaning and connection. Our primary goal is to help participants develop strength and clarity grounded in the wisdom of their own experience and a deep compassion for humanity.

The If Writers Program acknowledges that it is vital to give individuals and communities in distress the opportunity to creatively explore and share their stories in order to alleviate the shame, confusion, and mental unrest that often accompanies poverty, violence, trauma, and oppression. Incarcerated men and women are more equipped to move forward with their lives and make healthy, empowering choices when given the opportunity to process the complexity of their life experiences and see themselves again with deeper acceptance and understanding.

The If Writers Program is made up of three components, allowing us to reach the most number of inmates possible: The If Writers Workshop, The If Writers Series, and The If Project’s Monthly Community Exchanges

The If Writers Workshop is a one-day workshop which uses expressive writing and creative truth-telling to introduce participants to The If Project’s primary question, “If there was something someone could have said or done to change the path that led you here, what would it have been?” This initial question invites participants to begin the process of exploring their life experiences with trust and curiosity. Simple meditation and movement practices are also introduced in this workshop.

The If Writers Series is a six-session series which picks up where The If Writers Workshop left off by using expressive writing and creative truth-telling to explore their lives through themes such as love and forgiveness, rage and shame, grief and loss, art and beauty, and courage and fear. Woven throughout the series are holistic, skill-building exercises that give participants tangible skills for both trauma recovery and trauma resiliency.

The If Project’s Monthly Community Exchanges provide an opportunity for staff of The If Project, If Writers Program participants, and interested inmates to come together for expressive writing, creative truth-telling, and exploration of various topics that support health and healing. The If Project will often bring in local artists or members of other community organizations to strengthen community dialogue and exchange.