Writing Workshops, Retreats, Mentoring

AWA Method

Affirmations

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.

 

Practices

 
1. The workshops are non-hierarchical. What this means is that although there is a facilitator, we recognize that each person has a unique contribution to offer. While the facilitator is an expert on how to hold safe space, participants may well be experts in another field and bring those offerings to the group. Those contributions are welcomed and valued.
 
2. Confidentiality about what is written in the workshop is maintained, and the privacy of the writer is protected. All writing is treated as narrative, as story, as a piece of writing, not as something real and true from the writer’s life. This keeps the focus on the writing as a piece of literature. To do this we don’t talk about the writing as though that event actually happened to the writer. We talk about the protagonist in the writing as “the narrator,” “the character,” “the speaker,” “the hero,” “the heroine,” “the protagonist,” etc. We don’t use the word “you” (as in, “when you had that argument with your husband” – instead we would say, “when the narrator argued with her husband”). It’s a practice that truly helps to keep the space safe, and the focus on the writing.
 
3. No criticism, suggestion, or question is directed toward the writer in response to first-draft, just-written work. In generative workshops with writing prompts, we listen for what is strong for us as readers/listeners, what resonates with us, the effect that the writing has on us.
 
Sometimes in some Inkslingers’ workshops we offer a workshopping component where a writer can receive constructive feedback for work when they are ready for that kind of input. In that case, the feedback is balanced between what is already strong and working well, as well as what, in our opinion, would serve to strengthen the piece.
 
4. The teaching of craft is taken seriously and is conducted through exercises that invite experimentation and growth as well as through response to manuscripts.
 
5. In generative workshops, the leader writes along with the participants and reads that work aloud at least once in each writing session. This practice is essential to have equality of risk-taking and mutuality of trust.
 

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Sue Reynolds and James Dewar are both certified in the AWA (Amherst Writers & Artists) method of leading workshops.

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