Participants Reflect on the Wordshop Experience

What has amazed me most about Alison's wordshop is the amount of material I've been able to generate. As someone who doesn't have a lot of time to write, I have really benefitted from the discipline of even just one evening a week. My confidence in my own voice has grown tremendously and I have much more faith in my entire creative process. The feedback I have received on manuscripts has been extremely helpful and has always improved my work.

--Kathleen Furin, Delaware County/Main Line Wordshop

One of the things I've found most helpful about the AWA method is how it enabled me to hear my own voice in a different way. Through the use of the free writing and listening to the raw work of myself and other participants, I was able to feel what was unique about my individual voice--it's rhythms, metaphors and images, the way my experiences and language use reached other people. I found that doing this kind of writing in a community helped rebuild my confidence after several years of writing sporadically due to professional demands. What I have learned from the experience enabled me to take more risks in my poetry and essays than I had before.

--Deb Kossmann, Delco/Main Line Wordshop Alum

The free writing exercises at the beginning of the sessions are my favorite. Like acting improvisations, they provide a spontaneous, visceral serendipity. One never knows what will emerge from the trigger prompts; a new writing project, entirely different genre, or something significant you never knew you needed for your current writing project.

--Phyllis Mass, Center City Wordshop

I think the thing I value most about the wordshop is the support and community of other writers. It is the coolest thing to be in a room with several other people who think it's really fun to listen to a fresh piece of writing and point out what is great about it. I have met so many special people through the wordshop. The support of the group fires me up to go home and write more--you can't put a pricetag on that feeling.

--Maggie Nerz, Center City Wordshop

My latest story is a creative stretch; it is not something I would ever have conceived of writing had it not been for the wordshop. The deliciously wicked narrator emerged with a life of her own from a single wordshop exercise.

Alison provided thoughtful and thorough feedback during the editing process of my book. Her feedback and encouragement were both vital to the writing process. She asked cogent questions that shaped the content into a reader-friendly arrangement of material.

--Clare Novak, Delaware County/Main Line Wordshop Alum
Author of Never Rule Without a Magician, a Sage and a Fool: How Great Advisors Help Leaders Soar While Keeping Both Feet on the Ground

The Writing Wordshop transformed me from someone-who-wants-to-write to a writer. The exercises inspired stories, the critique sessions challenged me to strengthen those stories, and the resources and information Alison so generously shared taught me everything I know about publication and the business of writing. The Wordshop is both supportive and challenging, both a forum for honest discussion of the writing business and a place to remember that writing is much more than just a business, and that the strength of our work is not measured in publications. It's a rare combination, but a crucial one, and the Wordshop manages it perfectly.

--Ilana Stanger, Center City Wordshop

When I finally decided to act on my long-held desire to try creative writing, joining Alison's wordshop was the best thing I did to nurture my dream. Every week the exercises triggered stories and images that surprised me. I have since taken many of my wordshop responses and developed them into stories, essays, and poems. Whenever I'm feeling stuck or unmotivated with my writing, I return to the wordshop. I recommend it for all writers, no matter what their experience, who want to let their creative juices flow.

--Kristin Stitz, Delco/Main Line Wordshop

When I began Alison Hicks' wordshop, I thought I might have some gift for poetry, but my confidence was fragile. With Alison's encouragement as well as her kind, but knowledgeable critiques, I saw my poetry begin to flourish. Now, as I am about to have a chapbook of poems published by one of the most respected chapbook publishers in the country, I recognize that Alison and her wordshops contributed significantly to my development. Thank you, Alison.

--Doug Arnold, Delaware County/Main Line Wordshop

How beautiful people look while writing down thoughts, their muscular and mental concentration on the instrument marking the paper with hieroglyphics standing for sounds and sights—shorthand of a communicative language.

(Musician Laurie Anderson said-sang “language is a virus.” She wasted no words but sent them through a prism where they multiplied and spread.)

We sit close at desk-less chairs in a cave-like room. No one is chewing tonight. Lips are sealed—no—one is reading to herself and two chew. I tighten my lips to seal them, but, no—it is a gentle caressing of each other the lips must do—unless the jaw locks. There goes a third one, chewing. I don’t see any locked jaws, no anger here. Just writers using what they have set aside to use—pen, paper, time—and a guardian of that time so we have a protector as we put down our cares and enter our forests.

We need not put out our own energy to be safe. No wonder beauty is here in this vast space where we exercise our right to let go. Next time I’ll write about the hands.

--Susan Chast, Delaware County/Main Line Workshop

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