What to Expect

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening which is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist.”
– Martha Graham

Writers’ Room workshops are led in the Amherst Writers and Artists method as described in Pat Schneider’s book Writing Alone and with Others, Oxford University Press. At the heart of the Amherst Writers and Artists (AWA) method is the core belief that everyone has a unique voice. AWA teaches us that a writer is someone who writes and the craft of writing can be taught without damage to the author’s original voice. Writing is an art form that belongs to everyone, regardless of economic class or educational level.

During a Writers’ Room workshop, participants are presented with a series of prompts and write for a set time – usually fifteen or twenty minutes, sometimes shorter or longer.  A prompt might be a provocative set of words, an image, a piece of music, a photograph, an object, a scent, or some other surprise.  Prompts are viewed as invitations or places to begin.  We are empowered to use or ignore the prompt as we choose and go where the writing takes us.

Each writer then has the opportunity to read their work aloud to the group. This is never forced and is completely voluntary. Since our workshop writing is brand new, it is not ready for a full critique.  Instead, we offer each writer feedback on what is strong and memorable in their writing.  Hearing specific feedback allows each of us to develop our craft. This process also trains each of us to listen for what resonates with us as readers/listeners. Leaning into these strengths, we grow.

Guidelines for Writing Groups:

  1. Prompts are offered as a place to start. Feel free to ignore the prompt and go where the writing takes you. 
  2. We maintain confidentiality. After the writing has been presented, it belongs to the writer and is not ours to discuss.
  3. We always have the option to pass on reading aloud.
  4. Writing produced in workshop is brand new and is not ready for a full critique. We comment only on what is strong and memorable in the writing. We never offer suggestions or ask questions of the writer.
  5. All writing is treated as fiction. When responding, we refer to the “narrator” and the “characters.” We assume the writing is not an account of the writer’s lived experience.
  6. Because we are a writing group, we stay grounded in the writing. We do not comment with personal anecdotes about how the writing relates to our own experiences.

Writers’ Room is a place for people new to writing, for those who are beginning again and for those who are well-established in their writing life. These guidelines create an environment where both novice and experienced writers can take chances, explore, and grow our writing skills in a nurturing environment. Register for a workshop here.

Manuscript Response:

Weekly writing groups also provide an opportunity for manuscript response. This is a process for developed writing that lets the author hear both what works and where the reader is stopped, has questions, or wants more. Participants have the opportunity to provide the group with copies of 10 – 15 pages of prose or poetry.  Group members read this work outside of workshop and bring it back with notes and questions for a brief group discussion. Manuscript response is an opportunity for additional feedback, but is not required for participation in a weekly workshop.

Some Practicalities:

Writers’ Room  is located at 240 S. Oregon Street in Jacksonville, Oregon.  The studio is located in the carriage house at the back of the property.  Street parking is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Additional parking is located at the Jacksonville Library, located 0.2 miles to the north at 340 W. C Street, Jacksonville.

A note about stairs: Please be advised, Writers’ Room studio is located in a building with a set 15 stairs. 

Workshops are limited to eight writers. Should the workshop be canceled for any reason before it begins, a full refund will be issued.

Questions? Please be in touch!