The AWA Method (Amherst Writers)
“I really enjoyed our workshop. I was blown away by how listening and commenting instead of criticizing, and focusing on all the writing as fiction, worked so well for me.” — Jay C.
The Amherst Writers method creates a setting that is safe, non-competitive, and open to risk-taking. Fresh, vivid writing easily springs up in such an environment. Art comes first, a crucial element too often lacking in other approaches. In the words of AWA founder Pat Schneider: “Craft is knowing when to revise a manuscript and when to leave it alone, but art is the fire in the mind that puts the story on the page in the first place.”
Typical workshop format:
- We write during the workshop, in response to the leader’s exercises or our own ideas.
- We read our first-draft writing aloud to each other if we wish.
- We treat all writing as fiction—the key differentiator of the AWA method.
- We respond with what we remember, what we like, how the writer surprised us, and how he or she made us care.
- If the workshop cycle includes manuscript review, we can develop longer pieces and critique them with our fellow writers.
- We learn to recognize, cultivate, and trust our individual voices.
Pat Schneider mentored me, and I feel a special personal connection with her. My AWA certification and post-certification groups (2004-2005) were the last to be conducted entirely by her. I consider myself very fortunate to have been part of this cohort, where my peers included current AWA Executive Director Maureen Buchanan Jones. Most memorable of all, I have written with Pat in many of her weekend workshops. Pat’s voice and wisdom resonate in my mind as I lead and write in my own groups.