Miramonte High School's Newspaper

The Mirador

Miramonte High School's Newspaper

The Mirador

Miramonte High School's Newspaper

The Mirador

Intuitive Writing Project Uplifts Female and Gender-Expansive Writers

Elizabeth Perlman
Junior Ava Moga reads her piece written for the Reemergence anthology book launch event last September.

From the novels of Jane Austen to the contemporary fiction of Zora Neale Hurston, women’s history and writing have been intertwined for centuries. Amid Women’s History Month, a Lamorinda-rooted organization called the Intuitive Writing Project aims to celebrate the contributions of female and gender-expansive writers while encouraging young people to express themselves through pen and paper.

Established in 2013, the IWP’s roots lie with founder Elizabeth Perlman and her personal story. “I created the IWP because it’s what I wanted and needed when I was young, and because I wanted to support the wisdom and power of young women,” Perlman said.

Three IWP teachers: Gretchen Cion, Elizabeth Perlman, and Melissa Quiter

Open to all genders, the organization provides a safe space for young people to express their opinions through written word. The IWP’s mission statement urges participants to “declare what [they] know to be true,” a sentiment reflected in its myriad of writing courses aimed at fostering creativity and solidarity among youth voices.

Current students include junior Ava Moga, who is enrolled in the “Our World, My Voice” class. “Even though I’ve only been doing IWP for about a year, I absolutely love it — it fosters such a safe environment, which has helped me feel more confident and improve my writing skills,” Moga said.

Senior Ava Samson attended the “Heroine’s Journey” class, a course specifically designed to uplift women’s voices. Each session, attendees discuss prominent works of female authors before writing pieces inspired by a prompt centered on feminine identity. “Being given the space to express myself authentically through the IWP’s community-oriented approach to writing has helped me build lifelong connections with others, especially other young women, whom I share similar experiences and a passion for writing with,” Samson said.

2021 alumna Audrey Lambert was the IWP’s first student; though now working remotely, Lambert continues to engage with the IWP by managing its social media presence, running its TikTok and Instagram accounts via the Youth Leadership Team. “I started helping with social media during the COVID pandemic and really enjoyed it,” Lambert said. “Elizabeth has always been an incredibly helpful mentor to me, so I sought to help and collaborate with her whenever my schoolwork allowed time.”

Beyond writing classes, the IWP’s initiatives maximize its impact on girls and gender-expansive youth. Their monthly podcast features guests, ranging from former IWP students to published authors, who read excerpts of their pieces before discussing the inspiration behind their work. Additionally, once every two years, the IWP publishes an anthology collating student works from every genre, including poetry, fiction, and essay.

The October 2023 anthology “Reemergence,” was published and accompanied by a book launch celebration at Orinda Books. There, featured teen authors were invited to read sections of their pieces. Moga was among them. “I wanted to read that day because I love working with the IWP and want to be as involved in it as possible,” Moga said. “Reading the piece aloud to an audience was nervewracking, but it was worth it.”

More broadly, creative writing possesses benefits extending beyond daily expression, helping also to alleviate mental strife in ways that may specifically uplift girls and LGBTQ+ teens. A 2019 study demonstrated that six weeks of an expressive writing intensive significantly improved resilience and mental health scores among participants grappling with trauma. Given that girls and gender-expansive youth are prone to higher rates of depression and anxiety, according to “NPR,” creative writing can bring struggling youth from isolation to connection.

“Writing is such an incredible outlet for the tumultuous emotions that stem from being a teen and identifying as a girl,” Lambert said.

Each weekly session provides IWP students with countless opportunities for personal growth and bonding with other writers. “As someone who was once very hesitant to talk about myself and my experiences, writing and sharing my work with others has assisted me in finding my voice, becoming more comfortable with openness and vulnerability, and living as the most authentic version of myself,” Samson said.

Through her work at the IWP, Perlman hopes to spread the message to all girls and gender-expansive youth that creative writing gifts incredible joy to the community. “For most of Western history, female and non-binary voices have been silenced. I believe the best way to change the world is to reclaim our stories,” Perlman said. “When we can write about our experiences and have them heard, we are unstoppable.”

Those interested in IWP enrollment may contact [email protected] or visit their website, www.intuitivewritingproject.org.

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About the Contributor
Emma Wong
Emma Wong, Editor-at-Large
Hi! I’m Emma, the Editor at Large for this year's Mirador. I've taken journalism for 3 years and am passionate about creative writing, particularly student spotlights, and digital design. Besides editing, I work on Adobe InDesign to structure our newspaper’s layout and design graphics. I’m looking forward to a riveting year on The Mirador!
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