Writing Workshop Leadership Training Program

Program overview

AWA offers several five-day training sessions per year, limited to 12 trainees, that will teach you how to lead writing workshops in the AWA method and enable you to join our community of certified workshop leaders.

We also provide continuing eduction for trained leaders in the form of our online post-certificate training modules.

As a facilitator (trained in 2013), AWA has helped me effectively and creatively deal with the isolation caused by global pandemic. I’ve met so many other facilitators through [AWA] and from them I learn new best practices while developing new professional and personal relationships. I am grateful to AWA for the support I receive! Barbara Krasner

What our training offers

Our initial training is a comprehensive, synchronous online writing workshop leadership training. The five full days of material include instruction in leadership skills, experiential learning, ways to develop craft, and practical information on how to form successful groups for writers at all levels and from diverse backgrounds.

We provide guidance for starting a business for general groups or working with specific populations, such as those in prison, low-income youth, the chronically ill, or seniors. This training establishes the tools and confidence to begin and succeed.

As a facilitator of the AWA way I feel such a joy from choosing and offering prompts, then,  riding the wave of responses. Holding the group to the guidelines, though difficult at times, adds depth to the writing and responses.  It is an offering that serves me 100 times more than I give. Alexandra Kedrock

Who we’re looking for

Our training teaches individuals to become strong, effective writing workshop leaders using the AWA method. The ideal candidate has experience with this method through membership in an on-going workshop or through a series of retreats. You can find opportunities to experience the method in our directory of AWA Affiliates or our Event Calendar.

Although the method’s approach is simple, its application is subtle and complex. Applicants are accepted based on their literacy, ability to demonstrate their prior experience with the AWA method and their potential to be an effective workshop leader.

My success is not attributable to any unusual talent I have as a writer or workshop facilitator. I am not extraordinary. The Amherst Method is extraordinary. It provides an unusually good model for writing workshops and, because we live in a time when people crave the opportunity to tell their truth and receive an honest, heartfelt response from their peers in a safe, balanced environment, this is the perfect time to offer this work. The world needs this work. Dana Cunningham Anderson | Writing Alive! Workshops

Logistics & cost

AWA trainings have, in the past, been held in self-contained locations conducive to a positive and focused group experience. In 2020, all trainings were moved online and continue to be hosted synchronously via the Zoom platform. Each training is held in a different time zone though we try to make them all viable for any US time zones. You can see the dates and time zones by viewing upcoming trainings.

Tuition for our initial workshop leadership trainings online is $1,750. The cost includes one year of AWA Affiliate status within AWA.

Once you have applied for and been accepted into an AWA training, we have a strict cancellation policy. If a written cancellation notice is received 3 months before the training, all but $50 is refunded. If cancellation is received 2 months before the training, all but $250 is refunded. If cancellation is received 1 month before, all but $500 is refunded. If cancellation is within 30 days of the start of the training, no refund can be provided. No changes or transfers/substitutions are permitted after one month.

If you are on a waitlist and a space does not open up for you, we will keep your application and deposit towards a future session unless you tell us that you would like the deposit returned minus our $50 administrative fee.

If you decide to leave your application open and your deposit with AWA, it will be your responsibility to contact us and let us know which future training session you would like to attend. We continue to accept applications for all training sessions and operate on a first come, first-served basis. Your acceptance into the program does not automatically place you in a future training session.

  • New Mexico Trainees

Daily schedule

Training days are full days. The first day begins at 11:00 a.m. in whichever time zone is designated, and the last day ends no later than 2:00 p.m. Each day consists of three sessions: morning, afternoon and evening. Morning sessions begin at 9:00 a.m., afternoon sessions begin at 1:00 p.m., and evening sessions end by 8:30 p.m. The schedule allows for intermittent breaks, with two longer breaks on the third and fourth day. We recognize that the schedule is full but it serves our goal to deliver the training information in a timely manner and reduce the time trainees must take out of their busy lives.

Day 1
  • Introduction to AWA Method
  • Modeled AWA Writing Group
  • The Importance of Listening
  • Treating Everything as Fiction
  • Confidentiality


Day 2
  • Writing Across Difference
  • Writing Exercises & Discussion
  • Responding to Writing Practice
  • Leadership & Practical Aspects
  • Leadership with Diverse Populations
Day 3
  • Practice Sessions
  • Craft Exercises and Discussion
  • Prompts: Diversity & Resources
Day 4
  • Practice Sessions
  • Individual Conferences
  • Manuscript Review
Day 5
  • Establishing a Business
  • Working with Other Agencies
  • Affiliate Benefits & Responsibilities
  • Certificates & Closing Ceremony

The community you’ll join

AWA has taught over 1,000 people how to lead workshops that support the writer in all of us. Leaders are concentrated in the US and Canada but there are facilitators doing this work across the globe as well, from Mexico to Turkey, Singapore to the Netherlands. You can visit our blog for information about the work specific leaders are doing or check out the benefits of our affiliate program to get an idea of the support you’ll be able to access once you’ve completed your training.