Words are a powerful medium, and the people who wield them have the potential to create great change.
This is not a process that comes easily, and many writers could use a comforting environment where they can bring these words to life. Nestled on High Street in the heart of downtown Lexington is a small community where writers gather to help one another with this process.
The Lexington Writer’s Room is a nonprofit organization that provides members with colorful, eclectic workspaces and a place where writers come together to support each other and let their creativity prosper.
Whether they are getting feedback, collaborating on projects or even just looking for a place to work in peace, the Writer’s Room community agrees that it is a welcoming and inclusive space for all kinds of writers.
According to their website, open desk members of the Writer’s Room are granted a productive and collaborative work environment, as well as a variety of goods and services to help them advance their writing. They are provided with professional tools like headshots, networking events, printers and Wi-Fi.
To keep the members fueled and focused, the writer’s room is always stocked with coffee, soda, snacks, and other foods and beverages.
The idea for the Writer’s Room was born from founding board member and former board chair Lisa Haneberg in 2020.
“I saw what an opportunity it was to have a collected group of people who were kind of working separately but together,” Haneberg said.
When coming up with the idea, Haneberg and the other founders said they focused on two important questions: why does it need to be a nonprofit and why is it important?
They recognize that successful writers need to be able to meet and bounce ideas off one another.
“The Lexington Writer’s Room was designed to create that environment in a way that was doable for most writers,” Haneberg said.
She said the interior and overall vibe of the space was inspired by old salons of the 1800s. The founders wanted to pull from that energy and use it to further inspire creativity. While there is no alcohol involved, there is still a beatnik kind of collective.
The space is taken care of by the Writer’s Room’s only official employee, Community Manager Samar Johnson. Johnson joined the LWR as a member in October 2022 after driving down High Street and noticing the building. By January of 2023, they became community manager.
“Writing is very important to me,” Johnson said. “I loved the way that I was automatically accepted.”
Part of Johnson’s job is making sure that the Writer’s Room maintains a sense of community and that the writers feel connected to one another. They know that when writers come into the space, they should not be worried about anything except writing.
“We really just created a world where they come in, they can write for however long,” Johnson said. “The only qualifications are that you are working on a project, are 18 years or older and are vaccinated.”
Haneberg acknowledged the idea that writing is a solo activity and the LWR aims to change that.
“Creatives deserve a space where they can work around other creatives, but it needs to be something that’s affordable because most writers don’t make a lot of money,” Haneberg said.
The Lexington Writer’s Room offers two types of memberships on their website. The first, an “Open Desk Membership” priced at $50 a month, grants members unlimited access to the facilities and all of its perks. The other membership option, the “Virtual Membership,” is priced at $20 a month and is meant for regional writers who can’t physically access the workspace but would like to join the Writer’s Room community.
Haneberg noted that part of the reason the Writer’s Room was founded was to cut down on some costs that creatives face that stop them from bringing their dreams to fruition.
“Being a writer is not cheap,” Johnson said.
While the founders know that the space encourages people to work with one another, it also leaves room for those who wish to work alone. Haneberg shared that, unlike a coffee shop, there is not a lot of chatter going on there. The goal of the Writer’s Room is to make people more productive.
“We have actually heard from members that they get so much more done when they’re there because that’s what that space is for,” Haneberg said. “You go to the coworking space, you’re going to write.”
Johnson and Haneberg agreed that while the coworking space is a big advantage of membership at the Writer’s Room, many members also benefit from the monthly write-ins. Write-ins are events where members get the opportunity to work on their pieces in a collaborative setting for a set amount of time. When they are done working, the writers have the chance to share their work with one another.
The write-ins are just one example of the unique ways that the Writer’s Room allows for collaboration. It creates an open and honest environment where writers can critique one another without fear of judgment.
“It is cool to see the different ways people engage with writing,” Johnson said. “Lisa always says we are writer agnostic, meaning there is no genre.”
One member in particular, Lisa A. Brown, has been working with the Writer’s Room for about two years.
“I like coming here to where it’s quiet and there’s no distractions. I like this community of writers and just being able to feed off of one another. It’s a great space,” Brown said.
She has been writing for 10 years while also working through some intense hardships, including the death of both her parents and a traumatic brain injury. Despite her suffering, Brown is gearing up to release her first book.
“I’m just hoping that people find joy and restoration, the same that I found in writing it and everything that I’ve gone through. You know healing does come forth and there is joy on the other side of all your pain,” Brown said.
Haneberg knows that having a place like the Writer’s Room is truly beneficial, not only to writers, but Lexington as a whole.
“The literary arts are very important to Kentucky,” Haneberg said. “Storytelling is a very important part of our Kentucky culture, and we need to make sure our storytellers are able to get their work out there.”