The Amherst Writers & Artists' philosophy is a simple one: 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, and available at www.patschneider.com), provides just such an environment.
Peter Elbow, author of Writing Without Teachers, brought the writing process movement into classrooms across the U.S. In his the introduction to Writing Alone and With Others, he called Pat Schneider “the best teacher of writing I know.” The practices outlined in the book have proven effective in graduate school classrooms and in work with the homeless, in children’s schoolrooms, with nursing students, in bereavement groups and in living rooms among friends.
Unique to the AWA method, at the time of the publication of the book, are these two revolutionary practices:
The AWA method has been used successfully with experienced writers as well as beginners, writers who have confidence as well as those who are uncertain. It has been equally effective in helping those whose voices have traditionally been silenced by poverty, discrimination, illness, age or other obstacles to achieving the powerful combination of language and confidence needed to overcome social barriers. While the AWA method is not therapy, it has great healing potential for writers from all backgrounds. Writers who have used the AWA method have published major works and taken top prizes and awards in the U.S. and Ireland, and over a thousand have completed the AWA training program in workshop leadership.