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
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.
- Everyone has a strong, unique voice.
- Everyone is born with creative genius.
- Writing as an art form belongs to all people, regardless of economic class or educational level.
- The teaching of craft can be done without damage to a writers original voice or artistic self-esteem.
- A writer is someone who writes.
The following practices establish a safe environment where everyone is free to explore within their own writing and listen to each other with respect.
- Everyone’s writing, including the leader’s, is treated with equal respect and value.
- Writing is kept confidential and treated as fiction.
- Writers can refrain from reading their work aloud.
- Responses to just-written work reflect what is strong and successful.
- Responses and exercises support the development of literary craft.
- When Listening in an AWA workshop we enter the universe that the writer has created and leave our assumptions behind. We are asked to leave behind our own expectations and experiences. In an AWA workshop we listen for and notice what works. We listen for and notice the choices a writer has made that help to create success in the writing. We listen without preconceived ideas about what the story should be about, how the poem should sound, or what we might do differently.