The Writer's Voice of the West Side Y
See class listings and register online
The Writer's Voice of the West Side Y
5 W. 63rd Street, NYC 10023
For information, contact:
Director of Community Arts
Financial assistance available
Shaping the Stories in
Our Lives (memoir)
7- or 8-week sessions
The Art of Personal Narrative
7- or 8-week sessions
Advanced Memoir & Creative Nonfiction
8-week and 15-week sessions
Teacher, Consultant, Writing Coach
Memoir & Creative Nonfiction Workshops
Since 2004 I've taught ongoing workshops in memoir and nonfiction writing at The Writer's Voice of the West Side YMCA in New York City. My students—intrepid beginners and seasoned writers ranging in age from their early 20s to late 80s—are dedicated readers skilled in the art of supportive critique, who share a serious desire to shape the raw material of their lives into compelling personal narrative and creative nonfiction. In addition, I currently lead a Poets & Writers outreach program at Kew Gardens Community Center, and have also taught at Brooklyn College, Hudson Valley Writers' Center, and as a visiting writer at George Mason University and SUNY.
I teach intensive workshops in Publishing Strategies / Book Proposal Writing for those who need guidance with fine-tuning their book's focus and structure, developing a marketing platform, and creating an attention-getting summary/overview, agent query letters, article pitches, and book proposals. I also offer intensives for beginning writers interested in writing memoir and personal essays, and work privately with individuals and groups.
Mentoring and Manuscript Consultation
Working privately with individuals, I offer developmental guidance and critique of book-length manuscripts, essays, book proposals, agent queries and editorial pitches.
I had never scribbled a single word of narrative writing until I met Mindy Lewis. A few short years later, because of her guidance I am on the verge of having my memoir published by a major house. Mindy was the loving midwife of my book. She taught me when to push, how to breathe, and when to scream.
- Ed Boland, author "The Battle for Room 314" (Hachette Book Group/Grand Central Publishing)
Mindy Lewis is an exceptional writing teacher—astute in her criticism, wise in her judgment, and uncommonly generous in the encouragement and support she gives every student in her classes. Even though I've been a professional editor all my adult life, I'd done very little writing of my own before I began attending her classes. Mindy emboldened me to spread my writing wings and to explore my own life experience. I've learned so much from her, and I've also benefited enormously from the wonderful writing selections that she hands out in class. I'd recommend Mindy's classes to anyone—novice or pro—who wants to expand their creativity and sharpen their skills in a nurturing environment.
- Jo Ann Miller, editor
Mindy is an excellent teacher and a thoughtful and astute reader and critic of her students’ work. Class members can expect informative handouts, intelligent interactions, and smart recommendations of books or essays that relate to their stories. Her insightful comments and genuine enthusiasm for my work have encouraged me and led to several published essays and the completion of my memoir. Every Wednesday I look forward to Mindy’s workshop and the important things I’ll learn about my own writing, the writing of others, and the writing life.
– AnnaLee Wilson, President, Kaeser and Wilson Design
Thank you for your encouragement every step of the way, with trenchant and sensitive verbal and written feedback – and also your carefully chosen readings and exercises that are so perfectly tailored to our needs, and feed the mind, heart and soul. The mix of perspectives and voices in our class has been so inspiring. I feel much more able to experiment with voice and subject matter, and I’m looking forward to “following the breadcrumbs” in whatever directions they may lead.
—Charlotte Abbott, Marketing and Communications
"I cannot THANK YOU enough for your time. I am so glad that I enlisted your expert counsel—you have clearly found your calling—and I am absolutely fired up about making the additional improvements we discussed."
- Suzanne Gannon, journalist
Mindy Lewis is that rare teacher whose encouragement and support motivates writers to spend even more time at the keyboard. She challenges with an encouraging nudge, and is never satisfied until the words reflect the writer's intention with precise meaning and revealing details. An exacting editor, careful reader, and empathetic listener, she simply makes you want to become a better writer.
– Sam DeFazio, actor
Mindy is a teacher invested in her students at every level—what we write, yes, but also what we read, what we say to each other and how we say it. She is a keen listener with a remarkable ear—she can spot quickly where something is clunky or does not ring true, and can help me fix it just as quickly. Mindy is a reader with an ear for language and a love for good writing and a strong sense of how to bring it about. In over 30 years of trying to take myself seriously as a writer, Mindy is the only instructor who has ever been able to jumpstart my efforts, my confidence and my production, giving me at least a handful of pieces to be proud of; obviously, I am grateful.
I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your gracious and very thorough comments.... This type of feedback and encouragement is so vital for a beginner like me. It inspires me and feeds the motivation to put in all the hard work necessary to produce good writing. I don't know if I was looking for writing, but writing found me, and I'm glad it did, because it has given me a voice I had forgotten I have.
"When I started your class, I was stuck in the 3rd person narrative, miles away from anything close to a memoir. It's your sharp, patient critiquing and encouraging support that's enabled me to write in a way I wouldn't have thought possible a year ago. This winter, when you suggested the idea for a book, you gave me the focus I needed to keep writing. Will there ever be a book? It doesn't matter; you've shown me that I have something unique to say and I'm having fun saying it."
- Lorraine Zamora
"Thank you for a wonderful class. You are an extremely gifted teacher. You have such a terrific balance of encouragement and much needed criticism, it's no wonder people keep coming back to your class time and time again."
- Judith Green-Berg, psychologist, writer
As a career short-form writer, long-form personal narrative was a challenge, but I found Mindy’s insights and guidance to be stimulating and supportive. She creates a “safe to dare” atmosphere that is so important when writers are sharing intimate details of their lives. I’ve been working with her for the last several years, and as I look over the body of work I’ve produced, the “before” and “after” is dramatic. Thanks, Mindy!
- Ellen Azorin, former advertising creative director and current owner/manager of Cantaloupe Music Productions.
"Thank you for guiding my work to places I might not have explored on my own. Your compassionate, thoughtful and sensitive reading is always remarkable and thought-provoking. The lively and engaging atmosphere of your classes bubbles over with shared ideas and the love of writing, and reflects the steering hand of a supportive and truly gifted teacher. That's why I keep coming back for more."
- Pamela T., lawyer, museum/auction house professional, writer
"I already knew how to write for academic journals and policy audiences. But in Mindy's class, I learned a different kind of writing—scene, dialogue, gesture, inner response and more. My writing is far richer now."
- Dahlia Remler, Professor of Public Affairs
"I want to thank you for your detailed, thoughtful caring edits. I am learning a great deal from you (and the class) and my narratives help me to clarify my past and fill gaps in my history."
- C.A. Loew, psychotherapist, editor, writer
"I really loved the class. I'm so glad I took it. I don't know how to end this cause I don't think this is an end…"
- Fran McN., journalist