I will support you, using the AWA writing method,
to find your voice and to write your story
in a safe and confidential environment.
I am a trained and certified AWA facilitator with a master’s degree in education. I can provide for you the safe, confidential, supportive community in which to write.
Amherst Writers is an international, nonprofit organization with more than 1400 trained leaders whose workshops help writers find their voices and build their craft – across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, India, South Africa, Malawi, Kenya, Ethiopia, Greece, Turkey, Spain, France, The Netherlands, Norway, England, and Ireland.
The AWA approach to writing is based on five essential affirmations, and six essential practices, as follow below:
THE FIVE ESSENTIAL AFFIRMATIONS
- 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 education 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.
THE SIX ESSENTIAL PRACTICES
- In the workshop we maintain a non-hierarchical spirit regarding how we treat the writing (e.g. the facilitator is not the “expert” & no one’s writing is treated differently than anyone else’s); at the same time we keep writers safe through a series of guidelines and practices which we adhere to in a disciplined way. These practices are simple to follow and have been demonstrated to be effective for the safety of the members of the group through thousands of workshops.
- Confidentiality about what is written in the workshop is maintained at all times, and the privacy of the writer is protected.
- We maintain confidentiality by treating all writing as fiction – feedback is offered to the writing not to the life of the person writing. We refer to the “I” voice in the piece as the speaker, the narrator, the character, etc.
- At all times, writers are free to refrain from reading their work aloud.
- The work is only open for feedback at the moment it is offered. Once the discussion has moved on to another piece of writing, no one refers back to it again. This means that no one will question or address the writer about their piece afterwards in any way, particularly any way that breaches the contract that all work offered here is fiction.
- And finally, we don’t talk about any work we’ve heard here to anyone outside of the workshop space.
3. In an AWA workshop we are asked to listen differently than we usually do in our lives. We are not asked to listen so that we can help or fix or sympathize with the writer. We are not asked to listen so that we can add our own story. We are asked to enter into the universe that the writer has created. We are asked to leave behind our own experiences and expectations. We are asked to listen to how the story or the poem is told. In an AWA workshop we listen for and notice what works. We listen for and notice the craft choices a writer has made that help to create success in the writing.
4. Absolutely no criticism, suggestion, or question is directed toward the writer in response to first-draft, just-written work. A thorough critique is offered only when the writer asks for it, and only when he or she has distributed work in manuscript form. When work has been offered in manuscript form, critiques are balanced; there is as much affirmation as suggestion for change.
5. The teaching of craft is taken seriously, and is conducted through exercises that invite experimentation and growth.
6. The leader writes along with the participants, and reads that work aloud as well. This practice is absolutely necessary, for only in this way is there equality of risk-taking and mutuality of trust.