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The Amherst Method

From the Amherst website


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)


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An Example Exercise

Prompt: Rivers

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 

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