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Amherst Writers & Artists Method

Pat Schneider–poet, playwright, author–developed the Amherst Writers & Artists (AWA) method in the early 1980s, after she received her MFA. She discovered that existing methods for leading writing groups were fraught with tension and competition, and that the resulting work was stiff and unnatural. She knew there was a way for people to express themselves freely and to take joy in writing, and the method she developed delivers on both counts!


Here are Pat’s Five Essential Affirmations that guide her approach to writing:


  1. Everyone has a strong, unique voice.

  2. Everyone is born with creative genius.

  3. Writing as an art form belongs to all people, regardless of economic class or educational level.

  4. The teaching of craft can be done without damage to a writer’s original voice or artistic self-esteem.

  5. A writer is someone who writes.


Pat’s book, Writing Alone and With Others (Oxford University Press, 2003) is a terrific resource for writers at any stage of the journey. It’s available on Amazon and on the AWA website.


What to Expect in an AWA Workshop


When you come to an AWA workshop, you will be invited to leave all your assumptions about what you can and cannot write at the door! The workshop leader provides writing prompts, and all the participants write together for a specified period of time. Then we come together to read our work aloud, if we choose, and each participant receives feedback on what is strong and memorable about his or her writing. There is no criticism of this fresh, first draft work–just appreciation of its strengths. It’s a wonderful way to find out what is particularly good in your writing, and to be supported by other writers.


All writing is treated as fiction, which enables participants to write more freely. And naturally confidentiality is a key component of any AWA workshop.


To learn more about the AWA method and to find workshops in other regions, go to the AWA website:

To sign up for an AWA workshop, please visit

Workshops & Retreats.



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