Amherst Writers & Artists' 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.
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.
The AWA method is fully described in founder Pat Schneider's book Writing Alone and With Others (Oxford University Press, 2003).
An Example Exercise
In the slanting sun of late afternoon the shadows of great branches reached across the river, and the trees took the river in their arms. -- Norman Fitzroy Maclean
I shall take all the troubles of the past, all the disappointments, all the headaches, and I shall pack them in a bag and throw them in the East River. -- Trygve Lie
Our village was built on the Ohio River, and was a halting place on this great national road, then the only avenue of traffic between the South and the North. -- Rebecca H. Davis