Young Writers & Leaders (YWL): Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Will I still be able to work and play sports/do extracurricular activities?

A: Many students are able to work part-time, play sports, take part in other activities and hold down their responsibilities. We have the year's schedule outlined and you will receive a calendar the first day of YWL to plan your life around.


Q: Are there snacks?

A: Weunderstand it is a lot to ask of our students to write and participate after a full day of school, having had lunch around 12, and our session ending around dinner time. We will always provide a few options for snacks and refillable water. Students are also welcome to bring food.


Q: Can my friends come to sessions?

A: As soon as our sessions begin at 3:30 PM we ask for no guests. It can be distracting and disrupt the flow of the program. Our sessions are special because we only get to see each other for a couple of hours once a week. Friends and family are more than welcome at our events.


Q: Do the coaches work with all of the students?

A: For the personal narrative unit, students work one-on-one with a writing coach for seven weeks. Each student has a unique coach devoted just to them.


Q: What if I don't like writing?

A: Some students start this writing program not liking to write. That is okay! We work with avid writers and reluctant writers. Our hope is to have you experience writing in a new way that makes you think more fondly of it by the end of our time together. 


Q: I'm shy. Will I make friends?

A: Our group will bond and grow to embrace everyone. We play a lot of games which open us up to having fun. We also take the time to get to know each other. Your cohort will be made up of five different schools from Portland, South Portland and Westbrook. You most likely will not know a few people, but that's okay because we will build those relationships together.


Q: Do we write the whole session? 

A: We enter the space with a free-write, share, play games, watch videos, etc. Most of the sessions are different but there is a lot of writing. It's not intense and doesn't feel like a task.


Q: Do we write at desks?

A: There are many tables in our space, two couches, bean-bag chairs, we have clipboards and other rooms we can sometimes use to spread out in. Sometimes we play music in the background. It's chill.


Q: How do I get there?

A: The Telling Room is in downtown Portland in the Old Port. We are located on 225 Commercial Street, Portland, ME 04101. We are on the second floor in Suite #201. It's a ten-minute walk from the Metro Station across from the library.


Q: Parking?

A: Commercial Street can be very hard at times to find parking, especially in the evening. Luckily when we are in session there isn't as much tourism and in the colder months it can be easier. If you plan to drive, plan to give yourself 10-15 minutes to find parking. You'll need a debit card, credit card or change. The pay-to-park machines do not take bills. It costs $3.50 for two hours of parking ($1.75 an hour) or you can download the Passport Parking app and pay from your phone. 


Q: Can I use my phone during our sessions?

A: No, well... sort of. Students in the past have used their phone for translation purposes or during freewrite to listen to music. If you're expecting a call or message and need to have it with you, just let us know. Otherwise, we ask that phones are put away because it can be really distracting and we ask that we are all present.


Q: Do we get paid?

A: Yes! Students earn a stipend after every four weeks of attendance. We do dock pay if you're more than 15 minutes late. We understand that for some students this is a big commitment and the stipend is an incentive for all the hard work that takes place.


Q: Will I have to perform in front of an audience?

A: You will always be asked to share among peers in your cohor. But don't worry, we will go slow and we will always give you the option to pass or just share one word from your writing. We understand that when writing is personal, it can also be private and just for you and the page. That said, there are events throughout the year where you'll be asked to perform both solo or as a group. We will be there to encourage you, support you, and rehearse with you every step of the way. True fact, in the nine years the program has existed, not a single student backed out of performing once it came time.


Q: Should I apply?