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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Amherst Writers and Artists (AWA) method?
The AWA method is based on spontaneous writing exercises and positive group feedback. It was developed by Pat Schneider, author of Writing Alone and With Others, to encourage development of voice and craft.  Contrary to many writing classes that feature homework and discouraging redline critiques, the AWA technique is to write extemporaneously from a prompt.  Writers then may share their writings aloud. All responses to the writing are positive, oral, and very specifically address the strengths of the writing. The group leader also writes and reads at each session.

Why write and read in an AWA group?
Most participants find this technique empowering and greatly benefit from the group setting, shepherded by the leader.  Taking part in a group gives you a welcoming place and regular time to write.  Your words are honored when heard by others.  Often others hear underlying themes or complexity that the writer was unaware of while writing it. Listening to other's writings exposes you to new forms. You identify yourself as a writer when you come together and write. Writing from original prompts brings freshness to your writing. Writing extemporaneously frees you from ‘the editor in your head,’ thus increasing the range of your voice. The energy created by writing side by side increases creativity and lends momentum to your words.

Do I need prior writing experience to participate in an AWA class or group?
No prior experience or educational degrees are required. 

Who can participate?
Participants may be very diverse in background, age, experience and goals for their writing. Anyone who is interested in writing and or developing self-expression makes an ideal participant. Participants agree to keep all shared readings confidential.

How do I know if this workshop is right for me?
Do you want to write? Are you a writer? Do you want to increase your creative expression, write more freely, develop your voice, expand your fiction writing, capture a personal story, or develop your craft? If yes, then this workshop is right for you.

What materials do I need?
All that is needed are paper, pen or laptop, chair and an area that is private for reading aloud to the group.  Pen and paper are provided though you are welcome to use your own.

What is the format of AWA workshops?
Typically an AWA group meets once a week for a series of 4-6 weeks. Each group is generally made up of 5-12 members. Each meeting is for a set time period of 2-3 hours based on the size of the group. Having definite start and end dates to a series allows for continuity and easy entry points for new members to join a group.

Another style is a single day event that can be two to three hours long or can be more hours and may incorporate another art form such as collage in addition to introducing the AWA writing method.

What does the leader do?

The leader introduces the Amherst Writers and Artists method and creates and maintains a safe environment for writing and reading. The leader plans, designs and presents the writing prompts, sets the pace and the tone of the session.  The leader also keeps the guidelines for responses to writing both by example and by coaching as needed.  The leader writes to each prompt and reads at least once in each meeting.

May I bring work that I write outside the group?
Workshops that have a series of sessions offer the opportunity for response to your outside work.

How do I sign up for an AWA workshop?
Contact me at laurie@writeinsandiego.com to sign up for a workshop. Please complete the information on the contact page and note your interest if you would like to receive updates about new workshops. 

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