In my workshops I use the Amherst Writers & Artists method. AWA is an international writing organization founded on the belief that everyone is a writer. For over thirty years, AWA has supported practiced and emerging voices through a proven workshop method. The essential affirmations are these:
- Everyone has a strong, unique voice.
- Everyone is born with creative genius.
- Writing as an art form belongs to all people, regardless of economic class or educational level.
- The teaching of craft can be done without damage to a writer’s original voice or artistic self-esteem.
- A writer is someone who writes.
My workshops offer space and time for you to find and develop your own unique writing voice. I offer a prompt (a poem, a quote, a picture, an object, etc), then everyone writes for a period of time. We write from memory and imagination. One writer might write poetry, another might write a scene between characters. Writers are free to ignore the prompt and work on whatever they wish if something else bubbles up. We then have time to share what has just been written, if desired. No one has to read aloud, but because of the way we give feedback, most writers find it powerful to do so. We listen carefully for what is strong, and what is working in the piece, and offer our responses to the writer. We don’t criticize new, just-written work. Instead, we help one another see the strengths in our writing. A more balanced critique can be part of special sessions during some series, if desired by writers.
To allow us as artists to take risks and go deep, following wherever our memory or imagination take us, we treat all writing as story/fiction/art, in the workshop. Even if a writer uses the first person “I” narrator, we focus on the writing itself, not on the writer. Within the safety of this environment, we are free to explore and create.
In my own years as a participant in an AWA workshop, I’ve surprised myself at the creativity and truth that comes out of my pen, and been astounded at the art that comes from the pens of my companions. I hope you will join me to find your own creative genius.