To download a PDF of the Welcome Letter, please click here.
Welcome to Write for Your Life at Ghost Ranch!
I’m looking forward to meeting you and writing with you!
We’ll be writing, reading, giving and receiving feedback based on the Amherst Writers & Artists method pioneered by Pat Schneider, author of Writing Alone and With Others, Oxford University Press. I’m honored to be part of an international community of workshop leaders who hail from the U.S., Canada, India, Ireland, Japan, Malawi, the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, and Mexico!
The ways we’ll work together to nurture a community of writing support have worked well for many writers worldwide. Whether you are a beginning writer, beginning again, or an experienced writer, I believe you will feel at home here.
• Your favorite writing instrument
• Your favorite journal, pad, laptop, etc.
• Any writing that you may have in progress and want to continue to work on in the afternoons. Note: You may want to print at home any writing you want to work on. Internet may be spotty, so download anything you want to have on your devices before you arrive.
A NOTE ON MANUSCRIPT REVIEW:
Following the Amherst Writers & Artists method, we will be focusing most of our work on first draft writing (and what works in your writing), but if you have a manuscript you’ve been working on and would like a session of balanced feedback, please let me know now and Email me your manuscript by January 12. Send 20 pages maximum, one-and-a half line-spaced. This will allow time for me to schedule manuscript reviews and to forward your manuscript to the others, with instructions for reading and commenting. Manuscripts can be in any genre – we all learn a lot by reflecting on the strength of a manuscript and on what may be mitigating that strength. It is also perfectly fine to work on your manuscript in the group instead of writing to the suggested exercises (as long as you’re doing first draft writing, not revisions.
HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT:
3:00 p.m. Check in begins
5:00 p.m. Cottonwood Room: Meet just before dinner for introductions
5:30 – 6:30 Dinner
6:30 – 7:00: Ghost Ranch Orientation
7:00 – 8:00 Cottonwood Room: Orientation to the Amherst Writers & Artists method and a brief writing exercise.
MONDAY THROUGH THURSDAY:
IN THE MORNINGS (9 a.m. – Noon) we’ll have timed writing exercises. I’ll offer prompts you can use to start your writing, or you can ignore (or adapt) what I offer. After writing we’ll read to one another what we’ve written. Reading is optional. But listening is crucial: As we listen to the reading, receiving each writer’s fresh, first draft work, we’ll notice what resonates, what is strong or working well, and we’ll respond by saying only what is strong, what stays with us: In this way, writers recognize, receive affirmation for, and develop their unique writer’s voice. In order to preserve maximum time for writing, we keep our responses brief.
AFTER LUNCH (1 – 5:30 p.m.)
1-4 p.m. We’ll have free time — you are welcome to work on whatever project is preoccupying you as a writer these days, or continue your writing from where you left off in the morning. I’ll have prompts ready if you feel stuck. You may meet for a half-hour with me to discuss any aspect of your writing life (I’ll have a sign-up sheet on our first day together). You may also want to take a nap, wander amidst Ghost Ranch’s beauty, cozy up to a good book in the library, check out the museums, etc.
4- 5 or 5:30 we’ll meet together again to share what you’ve been working on, discuss issues of craft, engage in manuscript review if we have any manuscripts.
AFTER DINNER MONDAY THROUGH WED (7:00 – 9:00 p.m.)
You may take this as free time, or join us in the Cottonwood Room for movie with popcorn! I’ve chosen movies that stimulate reflection and possible discussion of character development and story development.
Performance time! Bring a piece of your writing to a small group formal reading. We’ll read and applaud!
8:30 Check out
9:00 – 10:30 a.m. Closing Reflection, Short writing exercises, Gratitude, and Goodbyes
A FEW NOTES:
Protecting one another’s concentration: We do our best to preserve quiet during our writing times. Please turn off cell phone ringers before entering our space (unless you need to be available for emergencies — please let me know if this is the case).
Confidentiality: Our goal is to create a healthy, supportive community for each other while we grow as writers. Whether or not we intend to, in sharing first-draft material, all of us reveal something about our lives in our writing. One way we protect each other is to respond to all work as fiction (more on this later). And everything shared in our group stays in the group.
A Pre-workshop exercise: Please give some thought to / and perhaps make a list of some of your favorite writers of all time. Consider why and how they have influenced your own writing, and come prepared to share this with our group.
Amherst Writers & Artists: www.amherstwriters.org
Joanne’s website: www.joannebrown.com
If you have any questions or need to reach me, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org or call /text: 510-381-1205
I look forward to writing with you!