Common Questions

This is my first writing workshop. What can I expect?
A welcoming and immersive writing experience that should leave you energized to keep going! Even if this is your first time writing creatively, you'll be treated as an equal. That's because we all start the same way: with the blank page. You'll get prompts to spark your writing, at least 60 minutes of devoted writing time in each session, and the opportunity to share your writing with the group. If you're open to it, the group will respond to your writing, sharing how your words affected them. Unlike workshops that focus on critique, in generative writing workshops at Voice & Vessel, we'll respond to the strengths we felt in your writing and the voice we heard. My hope is that this feeds your curiosity to write more and share your unique voice.

I am already an active writer. How can this workshop help me?
These workshops follow the Amherst Writers & Artists Method. In my experience, this method is especially good at taking a writer to the generative, freeing zone of the writing process. The more established our writing practice, the harder it can be to shake things up and find new territory to explore. This workshop offers time, prompts, and support to help you push for new ideas and take risks in your writing. If you're seeking more depth in your writing practice, I hope you'll consider writing with us.

Are the workshops confidential?
Yes, this is one important way we help writers feel safe to try new things and claim their voice. Every workshop is confidential. From what you write to what we discuss as a group, it does not leave the writing studio. The writing always belongs to the writer. It is your right to share (or not share) your work, and it is our privilege as a group to celebrate it during the workshop.

Who leads these writing workshops?
All workshops at Voice & Vessel are led by me, Emily Stoddard. I’m a fellow writer and a certified leader and affiliate of the Amherst Writers & Artists Method. Learn more about my background.

Why is everything treated as fiction in the Amherst Writers & Artists Method? What if I want to write nonfiction or memoir?
Treating our writing as fiction is an important part of the AWA Method, and it can be a new and powerful experience for many writers. You can write anything you want, including memoir or nonfiction, during the workshop. However, even if you decide to write from memories, your writing will be treated as fiction if you choose to share it with the group. We will listen for what makes the writing strong rather than interpreting or judging the experiences that inspired it. This practice helps us listen and respond to you as fellow writers instead of would-be therapists. It also allows you to take a step back from your story and see the art happening in the midst of your memories.

What genres or types of writing will be covered?
All types. There are no rules about what type of writing you do, which is part of what makes this approach so freeing. Some writers avoid workshops because they feel they don’t “sound like a poet” or don't write “edgy” enough or prefer fantasy to traditional literary genres. In our workshops, we focus on getting words on the page. It’s too soon to judge what they might become! The surprise and diversity of what comes out in the workshop is part of what makes this method fun.

What if I want a critique of my writing?
In addition to generative writing workshops focused on new writing, I offer revision circles and one-on-one coaching for writers. Revision circles are open to returning writers and focus on works-in-progress in regular monthly sessions. These circles look at what’s working well in the writing and what could be stronger. The response is still rooted in compassion and deep attention to what makes each writer’s voice sing on the page.

One-on-one coaching sessions are tuned to each writer’s particular interests, creative journey, writing style, and voice. These often begin with a close reading of and response to a piece of your writing. I’ve helped writers with everything from finding patterns and bringing shape to oodles of raw material to generating new ideas for their story to strengthening and polishing a piece for publication. Again, I approach this work in a generative way, with the hope of deepening your relationship to a particular idea or story, rather than “fixing” or “correcting” the work. Our own writing has the potential to teach us so much. My critique is about listening for where it might be leading.

Will I be expected to bring writing with me to generative workshops? Will there be "homework"?
No -- all the magic happens when we gather as writing companions. I'm happy to point you to more resources or prompts if you want to keep the writing going between sessions, but it's not a requirement. (Revision circles do include sharing of writing before we come together, and those are designed for returning writers.)

What is the refund policy?
Due to the limited size and the nature of the writing workshops, refunds cannot be offered. Please be sure you are ready to commit to the workshop and have a clear schedule when submitting your payment.

Still wondering if this is the right workshop for you? Say hello and let me know!