Greater Philadelphia Wordshop Studio banner
Home Page
Exercises & Prompts
About Alison Event Calendar Contact Us & Links Alumni News


I’m delighted you have expressed an interest in Greater Philadelphia Wordshop Studio. There are many methods of conducting writing groups, as different leaders have different philosophies, pedagogies and styles.. The following information on my practices and the beliefs that underlie them will give you some idea of what to expect and assist you in deciding if my wordshops meet your individual needs.



People of varied ages, backgrounds, levels of education and writing experience are invited to join Greater Philadelphia Wordshop Studio. I encourage all those interested to attend a meeting at no cost as my guest to see for themselves what it is like. My experience is primarily in literary fiction, poetry and non-fiction, but writers working in other forms, such as plays, songs, libretti, or those writing for specific audiences such as children or young adults are encouraged to join as well. The wordshops benefit by considering and practicing different forms of writing.

The Center City wordshop meets on Tuesday evenings from 6:30-9:30 p.m. The Main Line/Delaware County wordshop meets on Monday evenings from 7:00-10:00 p.m. Participants in each group are limited to 12. Registration takes place in advance of each ten-week session's starting date, or when there is an opening. At those times, I will offer available places in the wordshops to those who have contacted me, on a first-come, first served basis. If, after reading these materials, you decide that you wish to join the wordshop, I encourage you to call or email and let me know, as I will offer available places first to those who have specifically expressed their intent to enroll.

Wordshops are based on the writing method developed by Pat Schneider, founder of Amherst Writers & Artists (AWA). My initial experience with this method was as a participant in Pat Schneider’s workshops. Subsequently I completed the AWA training course. Though I have also experienced a traditional academic creative writing program as both student and teacher, and hold an M.F.A. degree in Creative Writing, I have continued to find the AWA approach especially effective in creating a context in which writers can produce their deepest work.

If you would like to read further about the Amherst Writers & Artists method, I highly recommend Pat’s book and companion DVD, Writing Alone and with Others (Oxford University Press, 2003) widely available from bookstores or on-line retailers. In the wordshop sessions, we will explore many of the ideas, techniques and suggestions presented in this work. I also draw on a number of other writers’ reflections on the process of writing. Every new participant in a wordshop is provided a bibliography of recommended resources, and the opportunity to borrow copies from my library.

About the AWA Method
The Wordshop Experience

Assumptions & Ground Rules
"A writer is someone who writes" -- Pat Schneider

Anyone participating in Greater Philadelphia Wordshop Studio wordshops has a desire to write, and the wordshops will respect and honor that desire. Writing can be a much more fun and satisfying activity than we often make it, but as it is always an act that makes one vulnerable, the wordshops will deal carefully and thoughtfully with fears and blocks to the creative process. Our goal will be to support each other's artistic growth by encouraging creative exploration and experimentation and trust in our unique, individual voices.

The following guidelines are designed to maintain a supportive and respectful place in which to bring new-born writing into the world. Participants are invited and encouraged, but never required, to read newly-written work aloud for brief response from the group. When responding to new writing, we honor the writer by listening carefully, and by responding with what stays with us, what we remember and what we like, and not with suggestions for changes at this time (writing in manuscript form may be also brought in for full critique—see “Wordshop Meetings” section, below). Though writing is often therapeutic, these are writing and not therapy groups. So as to keep our focus on the writing, and to offer the greatest possible of freedom and privacy for each participant, we treat everything as fiction, and thus refer to the narrator or speaker, rather than the author, as the voice of a first-person piece, and avoid lengthy anecdotes about our own personal experience. The content of all writing is held in the strictest confidence.

Wordshop Meetings
At the opening of each wordshop meeting, I offer a prompt or exercise designed to stimulate the imagination. Participants are free to follow these prompts or to ignore them in favor of something else as fits the creative moment. Some participants may choose to continue with work they have in progress, modify the prompt or exercise in any way they wish, journal, free-write, or experiment with a new form or idea. Following the writing time, participants will be invited to read their work aloud. Since any work just written is “newborn,” and the writer has not had the time to polish it, response will be limited to what listeners remember and like. Many writers find such response helpful later on, when returning to a piece of writing to further shape it. Most often, we will have one and occasionally two writing periods before a break.

When a writer wishes a critical response to a piece of writing, he or she will bring copies of the work to the wordshop to hand out to each participant. At the next week's meeting, the manuscript will be discussed and participants will return the copies to the author with responses written in the margins, for the writer to refer to (or not, as he or she wishes) when revising. The aim of manuscript discussion is to explore honestly the work's strengths and what readers feel may be mitigating against those strengths, while supporting and encouraging the writer in his or her efforts. Discussion of manuscripts will generally occur after the break; if there are no manuscripts to discuss, the wordshop will continue with another exercise.

Private Consultations
Tuition grants each participant one one-hour private consultation with me during the ten-week session. Private consultations are not required, and it will be up to each individual participant to initiate a private consultation if it is desired.

The focus of Greater Philadelphia Wordshop Studio wordshops is on the writing process more than on the writing business. That does not mean, however, that publication will not be addressed. The wordshop will encourage those who wish to do so to submit their work for publication. We will discuss the mechanics of submission and will assist each other in uncovering and identifying potential markets for our work.

Tuition & Withdrawal Policy
$420 for a ten-week session. This may be paid in a block sum, several installments, or each week, but participants must, at minimum, pay tuition for each meeting on that evening. Participants choosing to pay by the week should note that I offer this option with the understanding that each participant will make a commitment for the full 10-week session; participants are therefore responsible for payment for each meeting during the session, even if they are absent, unless a substitute attends in a participant's place or other arrangements are made with me in advance.

If, following the first meeting of a session, you decide that you do not wish to participate, there will be no charge and any tuition paid will be refunded in full. If withdrawal from the wordshop becomes necessary following the second meeting, any tuition paid for future meetings will be refunded on a pro-rated basis. Those withdrawing after the fifth meeting will be responsible for the full ten-week tuition and no refunds will be offered.


Home - Writings - Exercises & Prompts - About Alison - Event Schedule - Contact Us & Links - Alumni News
Greater Philadelphia Wordshop Studio, Alison Hicks, MFA, 72 West Hillcrest Avenue, Havertown, PA, 19083, Voice/Fax: 610-853-0296, email Open AWA website Email Alison