A Publication of WTVP

A Place For Writers, By Writers

by Laurie Pillman | Illustrations by Missy Shepler Photo by Ron Johnson |
May writers shed_917x550

My Writing Shed is all about removing the impediments to the craft that local practitioners love

Peoria-area writers have a new place to call home thanks to the hard work of three of their own. It’s called My Writing Shed, and it’s the long-time dream of author Jennifer Flaig.

My Writing Shed founders Cara Dossett, Destinee Wilson and Jennifer Flaig
My Writing Shed founders Cara Dossett, Destinee Wilson and Jennifer Flaig

Flaig has been laying the foundation for My Writing Shed for years. She knew she didn’t do her best writing at home, but coffee shops, libraries and bookstores weren’t ideal, either. She dreamed of a nonprofit where writers could “create and connect, learn and grow, and share their experience.”

In 2020, she was about to host a book club at Lit on Fire Books in Peoria when the pandemic closed stores everywhere. Flaig pivoted, purchasing the storefront next door to Lit on Fire, at 716 W. Main St., to achieve her dream. Then she tackled her next challenge. Where would she find passionate, knowledgeable and empathetic writers to help her create a writing space suitable for all types of writers?

“You need three people for a nonprofit. I’d been looking for my magic three,” she recalled. “It took quite a while to find the right combination.”

Through the bookstore, Flaig met writer and editor Cara Dossett. Dossett had been circulating through Peoria writing groups for 15 years and shared Flaig’s vision. She wanted a space where Peoria writers could discuss problems like impostor syndrome and writer’s block. Both women were novelists. They wanted their third founder to come from a different background to ensure a welcoming atmosphere for all writers.

Enter Destinee Wilson, poet and artist in residence at Peoria Public Library’s McClure branch. She agreed to join the board.

My Writing Shed is a space created by writers, for writers. Funded through donations and writerships — memberships with perks geared toward writers’ needs, offered on a pay-what-you-can basis — the nonprofit has been rolling out programs since its soft opening in November 2022.

Writerships allow access to the Shed’s physical resources: a comfortable writing area, a coffee and snack bar, a reference library, and borrowable writing supplies. Mini-plants and fidget toys help neurodivergent authors focus. A plush chaise lounge and sturdy chairs accommodate plus-size writers or people with mobility issues. Those who like alternative seating options can take advantage of the floor pillows. The desks, from a quaint roll-top for solitary writers to the grouped tables for collaborative writing, offer comfortable spaces for writers of all backgrounds.

‘We absolutely believe here that everyone who writes is a writer’ — Destinee Wilson

It’s all about breaking down barriers for writers, not necessarily about getting published.

“We absolutely believe here that everyone who writes is a writer,” Wilson emphasized.

Writerships also allow access to all of the Shed’s events. My Writing Shed currently hosts four rotating events and occasional SHEDucation workshops by guest experts. The first two workshops were “Worldbuilding for Fantasy and Sci-Fi” with Zeke Jarvis and “Querying Agents” with Julie Navickas. Workshops on copyright, podcast storytelling and songwriting are in the works, said Flaig. Rotating events are scheduled on the first and third Wednesday of every month. One is “Word Wranglers,” the book club Flaig wanted to start three years ago.     

“It’s a book club for writers about writing,” she explained. “We read [writing] craft books. It’s a chance to talk about what we learn, what we like, what we don’t like, and what works.”

“A lot of our programs and community outreach focus on encouragement,” added Dossett. “Uplifting and empowering authors. Giving them a safe space to come and express their struggles and talk about their work and their craft without judgment.”

Dossett also runs “No One Suffers Alone,” an event where writers can pool their collective knowledge to help one another problem-solve.

“Everyone hits a roadblock along the way, and sometimes the person sitting next to you has already been there and done that,” she said. “They have the experience of going through it and knowing what to do. They can help out.”

The other two rotating events, “Storytellers” and “Open Book,” allow writers to share their work with an audience. For “Storytellers,” everyone receives the same writing prompt. Listeners get to see how different writers interpreted the prompt. “Open Book” offers opportunities to self-promote and get feedback.

“I love what we get to do for the writing community,” said Dossett. “It’s been an absolute blast to work alongside authors on their journey to help improve the work that they love and really make it shine.”

After only a few months, My Writing Shed already has regular visitors for its scheduled writing spots. Meanwhile, Flaig is excited about their following, which now numbers about 30 active members including bloggers and freelance journalists, and looks forward to integrating writer suggestions as the organization grows.

“The Shed is a space I can get away from the distractions at home but that’s more homey than a library or coffee shop. The support has been invaluable and the available resources make it so there is nothing to worry about other than cranking out words,” said Peoria author J. Lawson ( “I finished my most recently published book, started my current book project, and successfully completed a session of Nanowrimo at the Shed last year and I hope to finish a second book there soon.

“The Shed is a much needed and appreciated resource in the Peoria area, and with as many local writers as there are, I imagine they will continue to grow and serve even more people.”

“I feel very blessed,” said Flaig. “We are getting a lot of interest and support, and it’s incredible. We want to support our writers as best as we can.”

Find more information about My Writing Shed at

Laurie Pillman

Laurie Pillman

is an author and freelance writer/editor, based in Peoria