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.
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, a piece of music, a photograph, an object, or some other surprise. Prompts are viewed as invitations or places to begin. Writers are empowered to use or ignore the prompt as they choose and go where the writing takes them. Each writer is then invited to read their work aloud to the group. Since this 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 writer to build on their strengths.
This process works, for novice and seasoned writers alike, to create an environment where writers take chances, explore and grow in a nurturing environment.
“I find that I actually have to write in order to discover my ideas. I think you could allow yourself to never get started if you tried to guess in advance what was going to inspire you.” – Jay McInerney