What is Pen and Portal?

Pen and Portal is a place that not only allows us to stop and think about the answers to the questions, but also a place where contemplation and creative expansion help us begin to understand for ourselves what the questions even are.

When we consider what so much of the internet offers, how we are fed information about who we are and how the world works, rather than figuring it out for ourselves, we are kept small, contained within our likes and shares, friended and not. 

But when we begin to fill in the blanks of our own lives, our own souls, our own journeys, we are expanded. We come into that space inside ourselves that has been waiting so long for the door to open.

Ursula Le Guin said it this way:
“To misuse language is to use it the way politicians and advertisers do, for profit, without taking responsibility for what the words mean. Language used as a means to get power or make money goes wrong: it lies. Language used as an end in itself, to sing a poem or tell a story, goes right, goes towards the truth.
A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. By using words well they strengthen their souls.”

What is the AWA Method?

Amherst Writers and Artists is an individualized writing method for anyone who wishes to write. It was developed by Pat Schneider in 1981, and is now practiced in countries around the world. The affirmations and practices that comprise the method, make it possible for you to write more, and procrastinate less. 

These workshops are an opportunity to learn to step away from the default of doubting yourself, to know that you were born with everything you need to write, to create. There is no course you need to take, or degree that need be earned in order to find your voice, to lean into the trust that you are in exactly the right place, and this is exactly the right time. 
AWA workshops provide thoughtful contemplation and feedback and span a wide range of voices and writing genres. The inspiration and prompts offered provide a guaranteed way to develop a consistent writing practice. 
Every day someone tells me that they don’t have a creative bone in their body. But this is like saying I don’t have a tongue. Just like physical muscles, or individual spiritual capacity, creativity abides within us all, and always has. It’s there, often just waiting patiently for its turn. 

So go ahead, bring your creativity to life.

The practices available here develop, and are in fact integral to, not only the intrapersonal work of creative expression, but also to the interpersonal recognition of our own experiences as individuals, our relationship to each other, indeed to every being that has ever existed in the history of the universe. 

Our observations of the world, of our own experiences as they continue to play out, develop into awareness of our relationship with others, which eventually evolves into recognition of the fact that we are all a universe, within a universe, within a universe...which brings a level of awareness and compassion that maximizes our ability for overall wellness and unity.

We become who we are by taking up the pen and writing on the pages of our lives; looking backwards, forwards or straight on, sometimes making it up as we go, it’s all a choice; fiction, poetry, short story, memoir, it’s all a path to exquisite beauty.

Amherst Writers & Artists has its origin in the deep and complicated history of America’s struggle with race and poverty. It is fitting that we continue to wrestle with that complication by keeping our focus on both the creation of art through language, and on the creation of a more just social order by affirming the power, the beauty, and the importance of every person’’s voice when it is freed from the constrictions of judgment and the learned disability of not being able to write. Alice Walker has said, “The longer I am a writer — so long now that my writing finger is periodically numb — the better I understand what writing is; what it’s function is; what it is supposed to do. I learned that the writer’s pen is a microphone held up to the mouths of ancestors and even stones of long ago.”..Amherst Writers & Artists is about revolution. It is about changing the ways we define art, until “art” no longer is almost exclusively the expression of those of us with privileged formal education. It is about giving voice to the voiceless, valuing art that is a continuous artesian well, a never-ending stream in the kitchen, the workplace, the intimate conversation...Amherst Writers & Artists has, throughout its history, held two things in balance: the writer as an artist, and the use of writing as a methodology to empower the under-served...

Pat Schneider

Here’s how it works:

The following practices establish a safe environment where everyone is free to explore within their own writing and listen to each other with respect.

  1. Everyone’’s writing, including the workshop leader’s, is treated with equal respect and value.

  2. Writing shared is kept confidential and treated as fiction.

  3. Writers can refrain from sharing their work.

  4. Responses to just-written work reflect what is strong and successful.

  5. Responses and exercises support the development of literary craft.

Also see www.patschneider.com


List of my current publications

portrait 001 of Hollie Ziskind of Pen and Portal.jpeg