There was a time when female writers were discriminated against and forced to change their names to George Eliot.
Unfortunately, that time is now. Women are still the underdog in the writing world. For example, between 2010 and 2012 in Hollywood female writers made up only 9% of the scripts (written on spec) sold.
My parents chose the name Raegan so no one would know if I was a boy or a girl on a job application. Out-of-date anxiety? Nope, that choice has proven monumentally important time and again in my career. My personal experience is backed up by this Princeton study that found that female playwrights are more frequently rejected especially by… wait for it… female artistic directors!
So I’m going to support any group that encourages more young women to write.
That’s why I was thrilled to stumble across WriteGirl. WriteGirl empowers young women by matching them with female writers who mentor them in creative writing.
A large cafeteria had been commandeered for the WriteGirl workshop at which I volunteered. Among the areas each girl had to visit was a college counseling section, different brainstorming/writing prompt tables, and the greatest catering table I have ever seen at any volunteering event. I signed in, got a brief tour where I met many of the fellow mentors (all impressive credential female writers) and then was sent to one of the writing prompt tables to help.
At my table the girls, all in high school, were required to look at a map of the world with highlighted pictures and pick a location. Even if they had never visited that country they were then to write everything about that area they could imagine. i.e. What’s the temperature? What does it smell like? Who’s there? What do you see? What do you hear? How do you feel being there?
The girls worked with very little prompting. When they seemed stuck I just did what my teachers had done for me – I showered them with questions and encouragement reminding them, “There is no right answer. You are the master of this little universe you are creating, so don’t be self conscious. Just write something down.”
Again. Don’t be self conscious. There is no right answer. You are the master of your universe. Just write something down.
100% of WriteGirl graduates go to college, but more than that it’s important for girls to have female mentors who have played the game, written the words, and succeeded. WriteGirl infuses young women with confidence and teaches them that their opinion matters. So, for God’s sake, Lean In Ladies!
And remember, as the women of WriteGirl say at the end of every meeting:
“Never underestimate the power of a girl and her pen.”