"Whether your purpose for writing is artistic expression, communication with friends and family, the healing of the inner life, or achieving public recognition for your art-the foundation is the same: the claiming of yourself as an artist/writer and the strengthening of your writing voice through practice, study, and helpful response from other writers."
-Pat Schneider, founder Amherst Writers and Artists
The Amherst Writers & Artists (AWA) philosophy is a simple one: every person is a writer, and every writer deserves a safe environment in which to experiment, learn, and develop craft. The AWA method, which is fully described in founder Pat Schneider's book Writing Alone and With Others, provides just such an environment. Among AWA's practices are the following: we write together in workshop, and the leader writes and reads aloud along with the participants. The group responds to the new work gently, guided by a trained workshop leader. No questions are asked or suggestions offered to brand-new, first-draft work. This practice enables participants to expose aspects of their creative minds that may have been inaccessible, leading the writer to his or her truest voice, and fostering the power to use it. All work is treated as fiction to minimize the personal vulnerability of the writer. When the writer is ready and wants suggestions for revision, he or she hands out manuscript copies and receives intensive and encouraging help from the group and the leader.
"Not being able to write is a learned disability. It is almost always the result of scar tissue, of disbelief in yourself accumulated as a result of unhelpful responses to your writing. These wounds can be healed, those blocks can be removed."