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Creative writing richmond va


“ Valley has found a way of teaching writing that gets to the soul of what writing can be: self-exploration, self-discovery, self-acceptance, self-love. She creates an intensely safe space for students to write anything and everything, for them to spill their guts, then she compassionately puts everything back inside their skin so they can take their next breath. It’s an intense, exhilarating experience that is about much more than writing. It is about getting through life with authenticity, courage, and love. ”

“ I had heard wonderful things about Valley’s workshops from friends, friends of friends, strangers on the internet. They were all right. I laughed, I cried, words I wasn’t expecting poured from my mind onto the page. I was somehow both completely safe and utterly vulnerable in a roomful of strangers turned intimates in just three hours. ”

— Ashley Hawkins: Momma to Max and Zoey, Partner to Jay, co-founder and Executive Director, Studio Two Three

“ I’ve been an angsty writer for years, beating myself up for not writing more. Valley’s class has helped me let go of that and just write. It’s been wonderful to write and share every week with others and see us all get more limber on the page and in our minds. We all have grief in our minds (some fresh, some decades old), and Life in 10 Minutes has helped me lance some of those old wounds that are festering and getting in the way of letting me clearly see my own stories. It’s taught me how to get unstuck in my brain and on the page. I think of the Life in 10 Minutes class as the most valuable two hours of my week. ”

“ Life in 10 Minutes has been the key to getting my stories out of my head and onto the page. The gentle discipline of showing up for class, the positive feedback from Valley, the community with other writers on the same journey of discovery make it work. Thanks to Valley I have created a legacy for my family and gained personal insights regarding who I am, where I came from and how I got here. ”

“ Life In 10 Minutes was a crash-course in writing compelling, strong personal stories. Although I’m already a professional writer, I gained new skills in class that I’ve been able to bring into my daily work. I would highly recommend this class for anyone who enjoys writing. ”

“ While not meant to replace traditional therapy, as Valley reminded us in one of my first classes, Life in 10 Minutes is as much a therapeutic experience as it is a creative workshop. It’s a haven for writers of all styles, personalities, and degrees of practice. As a person devoted to self expression in all its forms, I was surprised and pleased to discover in Life in 10 Minutes an experience that was entirely new. ”

— Alison Miller: Owner of Taboo, Partner at Pipe it Up Pickles, Doing Who Knows What at

“ Nothing you have ever experienced will prepare you for writing with Valley. Actually, that’s a lie. Everything you have experienced is exactly the preparation you need. You will be amazed at how a group of strangers writing together once a week can plumb the depths of the human condition. I know I was. So if you’re a writer, join in. If you’ve always wanted to write, sign up now. ”

“ A few years ago, I was in a terrible rut; I needed a writing boost. I had heard of the Life in Ten Minutes courses with Valley Haggard, so I signed up on a whim. This whim changed my writing, my world view, my self esteem, my life. Under Valley’s gentle, but honest, feedback, and in ten minute writing increments, I produced what became a solid draft of a memoir. Valley helps you mine your darkness, light, hopes, fears, loves, and losses, and will help you turn those moments into writing gold. The tight-knit community that she builds is like no other-and I have been involved in writing communities for decades. The room vibrates with the bravery of writers who feel safe enough to tell the hard stories. When you write for Valley, you cannot help but write your best words. She expects nothing less. ”

“ I had not written anything intentional in a long time, and didn’t know where to begin with my writing. I signed up for one of Valley’s creative nonfiction workshops hoping to gain a little forward momentum. Her class helped me start writing again with thought and purpose. Just getting words on paper restored my confidence as a writer. Valley gives feedback in a constructive and positive way, and the other participants just listen. That takes a lot of pressure off when you are sharing your work publicly! I use some of the tools that Valley gave me every day when I sit down to the computer to write for my show. ”

“ Please, please, please do yourself a favor. DO NOT take Valley Haggard’s classes. You’ll become addicted. Valley will draw depths of creativity from your soul, fill you with happiness over your writing and encourage you write more. You’ll leave feeling energized and mentally competent. The minor pleasures you once gleaned from playing the martyr and feeling sorry for yourself will fade away. Your spirit will soar. Your brain will have to shift gears from plodding and piddling to building and developing. This kind of change is probably too much for you. So, no, don’t sign up for Valley’s class. Leave more room for me. ”

“ In Valley’s classes, I experience no shaming, no limits, and no grading on a curve. I further experience Valley’s undivided attention, exquisite clear listening, and I experience her as a friend to my creativity. ”

“ I recently took a creative non-fiction class with Valley. I loved the process of writing through the use of Valley’s prompts and was surprised at the depth of what came forth. Although I have no plans to become “a writer”, I loved the class so much that I’m taking another one that begins next week. I’m also working on ways to use the writing exercises with my psychotherapy clients, as I believe it will help them tell their “stories” and experience themselves in a different way. ”

“ Valley has a unique way of encouraging writers. Her classes are delightful – there is no homework, no stress, no fear of critique. Valley hones in on the theme, the strengths, the essence of the words that her students write in 10 minute-sessions. This translates to other tasks as well – if we can be brilliant in 10 minutes, imagine what we might do with 15? ”

“ The first time I signed up for Valley’s class, I thought I’d treat myself just once. I didn’t understand what a life-changing addiction it would be, this writing with Valley. I found my voice, and more than that, I learned to love it, and to long to hear what it would say next, what the voices of the writers around me would say. And so, session after session, there I was, filling notebooks for the first time in my adult life, learning that ten minutes at a time is enough to write something, even something beautiful, and I can find ten minutes here and there, even with four small children at home, I can find ten minutes and I can write. And I do, but I keep signing up for the next session, too, because there’s nothing quite like the magic of writing and sharing in a group led by Valley. I know this, and my eight-year-old daughter knows this, for whom Richmond Young Writers has been just as addictive, just as life-changing, just as magical. ”

Upcoming JRW Programming…

ONLINE WRITERS WEDNESDAY May 2022 – Socialize & Network

Community is at the core of everything we do, and Writers Wednesday is the perfect place to strengthen that. Writers Wednesday brings together writers of every experience level and genre in a casual atmosphere to connect, laugh, and revel in a well-deserved break. While hosting this program online, we create rotating, intimate groups of 3-5 people in breakout rooms, to allow attendees to have manageable conversations with others. And, JRW staff is always on hand to answer any questions you may have about James River Writers, or writing in general. This is a great entry point for those that are new to the James River Writers community. Plan to join us!

SPECIAL FEATURE: At the top of the program, Ryan Zee from PLOTTR will join us for 10-15 minutes to share about this online tool that helps writers craft better stories in less time. JRW members enjoy a 10% discount off the PLOTTR platform, one of many membership benefits!

Date: Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Time: 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Location: Online, in the comfort of your own home. Via the Zoom Platform

Cost: FREE!

This program is supported [in part] by the Virginia Commission for the Arts, which receives support from the Virginia General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.


As local news sources decline nationwide, a growing proportion of Americans are getting their news via social media and online platforms. Our panel will discuss the importance of a robust network of local journalism to maintain an informed population that contributes to a healthy democracy. Expert panelists include a Pulitzer Prize-winning local journalist, a professor of journalism that specializes in media bias and disinformation, and a communications specialist representing the Institute for Nonprofit News. Join us as they share their knowledge and expertise about the crucial role of local media in breaking stories that resonate with their communities, build trust in journalism as a whole, and connect national news stories at a local level that helps bring humanity and relevance to the headlines.

Panelists: Sharene Azimi, Dr. Mallory Perryman, Michael Paul Williams

Moderator: Roben Farzad

When: Tuesday, May 24 | 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm Eastern | Online via Zoom

Cost: $5 registration fee will be donated to the The Institute for Nonprofit News

Location: Online, in the comfort of your own home. Via the Zoom Platform

Registration closes at midnight, on May 23. The link to join will be emailed to you the the morning of the program.


As communications director at Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), Sharene Azimi promotes the work of the INN network to funders, partners and other external audiences while bringing INN members’ news and resources from the field of public service journalism. She edits the weekly INNovation newsletter and oversees all of INN’s communications channels. Prior to joining INN in 2020, Sharene spent a decade as founder and principal of Mission Communications, providing organizational strategy, branding, communications planning, and marketing services to non-profits, universities, and foundations. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.

Mallory Perryman (Ph.D., Wisconsin-Madison) is an assistant professor of broadcast journalism in the Robertson School of Media and Culture at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her research focuses on public trust in news with an emphasis on perceptions of media bias. She is the author of Mediated Democracy: Politics, the News, and Citizenship in the 21st Century, in addition to dozens of academic studies examining why Americans (dis)trust the press. A former TV news producer at KOMU-8 and Newsy, Perryman teaches broadcast journalism courses at VCU.

Michael Paul Williams is a metro columnist whose opinion pieces appear on the Op-Ed page of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Williams, a Richmond native, is a graduate of Virginia Union University and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He has won Virginia Press Association awards for column writing in 1992, 1994, 2007 and 2014. During 1999-2000, he was one of two dozen U.S. and international journalists awarded a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University. And in 2021, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary “for penetrating and historically insightful columns that guided Richmond, the former capital of the Confederacy, through the painful and complicated process of dismantling the city’s monuments to white supremacy.” He was the 2010 recipient of the George Mason Award for outstanding contributions to Virginia journalism, given by the Virginia Pro Chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists. This was the same year that readers of Richmond Magazine voted him as “best local columnist” — 16 years after he was their choice as the “Local Newspaper Columnist Who Makes You Want to Tear Up the Paper.” Williams is proud of both awards. He has also received a 2012 Humanitarian Award from the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities and the 2014 Will Rogers Humanitarian Award from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists — the latter for work that has positively affected readers’ lives and produced tangible benefits for the community.


Roben Farzad hosts Full Disclosure on public radio. He regularly appears on MSNBC, NPR, and C-SPAN and is the author of Hotel Scarface: Where Cocaine Cowboys Partied and Plotted to Control Miami. He is a graduate of Princeton and the Harvard Business School.

About the Institute for Nonprofit News:

The Institute for Nonprofit News strengthens and supports more than 360 independent news organizations in a new kind of news network: nonprofit, nonpartisan and dedicated to public service. From local news to in-depth reporting on pressing global issues, INN’s members tell stories that otherwise would go untold – connecting communities, holding the powerful accountable and strengthening democracy. INN programs help these news organizations develop revenue and business models to support strong reporting, collaborate on editorial and business innovation, share services and advance the diverse leaders who are forging a new future for news.