Writer and Storyteller Recruitment

Everyone has a story, and many are capable of telling their own stories, but in a Facing Project, no one writes their own story. Facing stories are shared by a storyteller with a writer, carried by the writer, and ultimately approved by the storyteller. This is a collaborative process.

This is done for several reasons:

1) It forces the writer to walk in another’s shoes and leads to a unique exercise of empathy.
2) We often struggle to tell our own stories. Finding the narrative thread of an experience or our lives can be difficult because we get bogged down with all of the details.
3) Neighbors meeting face-to-face and discussing issues that aren’t often discussed . . . that’s magical! [Link to The importance of Face-to-Face connections]

But in order for all of the above to happen, we have to recruit storytellers and writers.


The very first Facing Project focused on poverty. We couldn’t just walk down the street and approach someone and ask, “Hey, are you poor? Want to share your story?” We worked closely with 17 community partners that serve the poor to recruit stories.

Because of the need to protect the identities of the individuals they serve, most community partners won’t pass on names. In fact, many community partners will initially bulk at the idea of being a part of the Facing Project because of privacy concerns. You need to assuage these concerns by telling them that you would never ask for them to divulge their clients’ info, and instead ask them to pass on info about the Facing Project to any clients they feel might be suited to participate as storytellers.

Here’s a recruitment letter template for this purpose, which communicates what the project is, timeframe, anonymity, and minimum commitments.


Recruiting storytellers for some projects are easier than others. Storytellers for some projects can be recruited in a general call out via email lists, public forums, newspapers, campus newspapers, and on social media.

The organizers of Facing Depression in Muncie put a general call out through social media and via Ball State’s English department and within two days the project had recruitment three-fourths of the storytellers needed.


Project organizers often think they are going to struggle to find writers, but recruiting writers is typically easier than recruiting storytellers.
Who can be a writer? Anyone who steps forward and self-identifies as a writer is welcome to participate. We’ve had writers who were retired nurses, English professors, authors, and folks who have gotten away from writing but just needed a reason to get back into it.
Of course, the higher quality of stories that are produced, the less editing that may be required and the more powerful the stories could be. But remember the point of the project isn’t just about the things that are created (the book, the event), it is also about what happens during the creating of those things–two people connecting face-to-face and working together to bring a story to life.
We’ve found that sometimes the best writers are those who don’t consider themselves professional writers. And sometimes those who are professional writers are so entrenched in their own style that they may struggle with the format of Facing stories–writing in the first person as if they are the person who they interviewed.
We’ve created a sample writer recruitment letter in the Toolkit resources to help in your efforts.
Here are multiple ways to recruit writers:
1) Voluntell your friends who like to write that they will be participating in the project! Once the project organizers, do this you’ll be off to a great start on recruiting writers.
2) Ask your community partner(s) to help recruit writers. Have them share your writer recruitment letter with their community.
3) Encourage project organizers and community partners to share that you are recruiting writers on social media.
4) Reach out to your local universities’ English and Journalism departments to see if any faculty or students would be interested in sharing their talents with the project.
5) Reach out to any writing groups in your community. Check with the local library to see if they have any recommendations and reference this list of writing conferences. Checking with local bookstores and coffee shops may be fruitful as well.
Once you recruit the writers, set a time with Facing Project HQ for a writer training.