Aesthetic Drift #27 by Emily Yarmak
The Detroit Writing Room
In 2016, Stephanie Steinberg conceived of the idea to open an inspiring co-working space for storytellers in the heart of Detroit. Fast forward three years later and Stephanie and her husband, Jake Serwer, founded The Detroit Writing Room.
“When I was a Detroit News reporter in 2016-17, I got to know the creative community and entrepreneurs in the city,” she says. “I realized many people needed help with their writing — whether it was content for their websites, social media or writing a grant for funding. I also lived downtown and was disappointed that downtown Detroit lacked a space for both local and national authors to give book talks, lead writing workshops, and other literary experiences. There were also few co-working spaces in the city, and I felt writers and creatives could use a comfortable, inspiring space of their own to work and write.”
Since opening in 2019, the DWR has congregated a team of 30 award-winning journalists, authors and communication professionals to help the literary and arts community improve their skills and accomplish their goals. Members and guests have access to an array of coaches with expertise in writing, photography, graphic design and more. Each coach offers personal, one-on-one consultations for feedback and editing. The space also hosts a wide variety of literary and cultural experiences such as writing workshops, open mic nights and book talks. In addition, the location provides the local writing community with a quiet workspace.
As a city that made a name for itself long ago, Detroit is back on the rise. The city proves again and again that it has something to offer for everyone. Every year, an abundance of locally owned businesses pop up, and the sense of ambition and creativity is hard to miss. However, the city wouldn’t be anything without the people that make it what it is. Detroit isn’t changing, it is only reviving the charm that it always had.
Stephanie explains, “I really wanted to find a space that was walking distance to restaurants, bars, coffee shops and retail. I also wanted to find a space that was full of natural light. I really lucked out because the DWR is full of big windows that flood the space with sunshine.”
Since transiting to a virtual space due to the pandemic, the DWR is now connecting the local community to others with similar passions from all across the world. Guests from Australia, Bermuda, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, and across the U.S. have participated in virtual workshops.
During the pandemic, Stephanie also founded Coaching Detroit Forward, the non-profit arm of the DWR. CDF provides mentorship opportunities for Detroit high school students in creative fields such as writing, photography and graphic design. Coaching Detroit Forward offers camps, workshops, and after school programs taught by award-winning journalists, authors, communications professionals, photographers and designers.
During the summer, Coaching Detroit Forward hosted a virtual journalism camp that mentored 28. Students were exposed to first-hand experiences in the industry and taught the power of storytelling during a time of protests and an ongoing global pandemic. Each of the students have recently been published in Perspectives, a magazine run and produced by Coaching Detroit Forward.
As the pandemic persists, the DWR continues to create a safe and inspiring space for writers to improve their skills and connect to other fellow creatives. Coming 2021, the DWR is hosting a virtual yearlong book club with top local authors and public figures such as former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, Rochelle Riley, Judge Rosemaríe Aquilina, Tony Schwartz and many more. Each monthly book talk includes a meet-and-greet with the author and an open Q&A. Annual members will receive promo codes for book discounts and an opportunity to win signed copies.
“We have so much talent here in the city, and it’s been so fun helping people write the book they’ve always wanted to write or finetune their children’s book or screenplay. Our career coach helps job seekers polish their resumes, and our grant writing coaches assist nonprofits and individuals with applications,” Stephanie says. “One of the best parts of my job is hearing that a writer’s book got published, an entrepreneur launched their website, a job seeker got the job they wanted, or an organization received funding with the help of our coaches.”
More information about The Detroit Writing Room can be found at www.detroitwritingroom.com
Emily Yarmak is an event and communications intern at The Detroit Writing Room. She is a senior at Grand Valley State University pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Writing with a minor in Studio Art.