about the AWA writing method

AWA BADGE with new logo Affiliate Jo Tho

Amherst Writers & Artists (AWA) is an international community of writing workshop leaders who are committed to the belief that a writer is someone who writes and that every writer has a unique voice. AWA workshops follow a proven method that affirms writers by building confidence, creating an atmosphere of equal exploration, and protecting confidentiality.

AWA’s core belief is simple: every person is a writer, and every writer deserves a safe environment in which to experiment, learn, and develop craft. The AWA method, which is fully described in founder Pat Schneider’s book Writing Alone and With Others (Oxford University Press, 2003), provides just such an environment.

"Whether your purpose for writing is artistic expression, communication with friends and family, the healing of the inner life, or achieving public recognition for your art – the foundation is the same: the claiming of yourself as an artist/writer and the strengthening of your writing voice through practice, study, and helpful response from other writers." 


Pat Schneider, AWA founder

reviews of the AWA writing method

We really do emphasize that there’s no right or wrong way to do it,” Hyson said. “Essentially, we believe that a writer is someone who writes. And anyone can write. It’s just a matter of getting that

out on paper.

​[The AWA] core philosophy

is that every person has a

unique voice and that the

craft of writing can be taught without damaging that

original voice.

We begin each session as a gathering no more cohesive than a subway car filled with strangers, all of us preoccupied with our days, shifting in our seats. And we end it—when it goes well—as a 40-limbed, warm-blooded, broad-minded creature: 

Worskhopus libraria.


The AWA method is based in the following philosophy. These affirmations rest on a definition of personhood based in equality, and a definition of writing as an art form available to all persons.

  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.

Essential Practices

The following practices establish a safe environment where everyone is free to explore within their own writing and listen to each other with respect.


  1. Everyone’s writing, including the leader’s, is treated with equal respect and value.

  2.  Writing is kept confidential and treated as fiction.

  3. Writers can refrain from reading their work aloud.

  4. Responses to just-written work reflect what is strong and successful.

  5. Responses and exercises support the development of literary craft.

Source: AWA website