AWA is an international community of writing workshop leaders.

Our workshop leaders 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. To learn more about the method, you can explore our philosophy and essential practices.

The AWA Method helped me see the strengths in my writing that initially I couldn’t see. I felt supported and encouraged when I read out loud, even though I might have trembled a bit as I did. Each affirmative comment was like a building block that helped to create a firm foundation and belief in my own ability.

Janis McCallen

My AWA writing workshop provides a safe and supportive space that gently pushes me out of my writing comfort zone into a learning zone.  I enjoy writing in solitude, but the workshop is an opportunity to learn from others, both through constructive peer feedback and from hearing different writing styles. The workshop has also helped me process and gain deeper understanding of some challenging experiences I have had during the last three years as the father of a medically complex child with disabilities.

Roy Karp

I believe [the AWA Method] is the most supportive and comforting way to allow our creative voices freedom. It is a magical process that engages the writer to have the courage to speak their voice. I have recommended this process to others and their experiences have echoed mine. It is simply awesome.

Grace King

We are a not-for-profit, community-based writing organization.

AWA was founded by Pat Schneider and our method is outlined in her book, Writing Alone and With Others (2003, Oxford University Press). She established and grew the methodology while working with women in a housing project in Chicopee, MA. This work rises from that legacy of working with the under-served, the marginalized and the oppressed, especially those with interrupted educations. It also incorporates principles from the writing process movement. You can find the AWA method in elementary, high school, and college classrooms across the country, engaging writers differently. We are a 50(c)3 non-profit and sustain ourselves with donations from passionate writers and readers like you.

Through the AWA Training Program, AWA trains writers to uphold the AWA method and become workshop leaders. These workshop leaders learn to work with everyone from novice writers who have been led to believe they have no voice to experienced writers seeking to hone their craft.

There are many incredible non-profits that AWA-trained leaders have founded: 916 Ink, NY Writers’ Coalition, Toronto Writers’ Collective, Write Around Portland, and more. Other leaders focus their AWA work on writing with specific populations: Writing Ourselves Whole supports survivors of sexual violence, Sutter Writers invites doctors, patients, and hospital staff to write together, and WOC Writers offers community to women writers of color in NYC, among many, many more.

The AWA method has been extremely useful in my work with First Nation adults and inter-generational survivors who suffer from the legacy of Indian Residential School trauma… I used the method specifically when working with those survivors who chose to make an application for compensation for their time in Residential School… This type of sustained, complex trauma severely impacts all areas of a survivor’s life. Some of the issues I used the AWA method to address included: addiction, depression, self esteem and disempowerment, loss of language and culture, trust issues, lateral violence, parenting issues, employability and poverty, among others. The AWA training refined my knowledge of arts based healing modalities and, in particular, the use of writing and storytelling methodology. It enhanced my confidence and my ability to use therapeutic writing with traumatized populations. The training also honed my ability to use writing and storytelling in a strategic and safe way with trauma survivors.

Jill Goodacre

What, in the most profound sense, are we doing, using the Amherst Writers & Artists method in Mary’s Place and in other, similar programs in jails, prisons, shelters, hospitals, centers for youth at risk and many other venues across America and in Canada, Ireland, India, Malawi and other countries? It is true that we are changing lives. My own life was changed by a seventh grade teacher, by a college-age camp counselor, and by the pastor of a small, dying church. Each one of them dared to walk up the steps of a tenement through the smell of urine and roach poison, find me and believe in me until I could believe in myself. That is the “most profound” work being done in Mary’s Place. Face-to-face, person-to-person, spirit-to-spirit, sharing words, stories — the “teacher/leader” writing with the participants.

Pat Schneider, introduction to ORIGINAL VOICES: Homeless and Formerly Homeless Women’s Writings

With AWA, writers gain confidence in their voices and devote themselves to making literary art.

Writers who have written in or led AWA method workshops have published major works and won top awards in the U.S., Canada and Ireland. You can keep up to date about publications in the AWA community by signing up for our newsletter.

To celebrate literary craft, we also started AWA Press. We have published books and also an annual literary journal, Peregrine.