what it is
you plan to do
with your one
wild and precious life?
— Mary Oliver
1. Why do you meet on a weekly basis?
As with any exercise regime or meditation practice, the greatest growth comes from writing on a regular basis. It is through the weekly experience of both self-connection (articulating your thoughts and feelings on paper) and social-connection (speaking your truth and having it affirmed by others) that young people develop confidence in their own unique voice.
“It’s the best part of my week and the only place I feel like I can relax and be myself.”
—TIWP student, age 15
2. What happens in class?
The short answer is: a lot! The magic of every class is that writers keep learning about themselves and growing stronger as people, empowered by the enthusiastic support of their peers. This is made possible by the fact that we offer a very structured "safe container," balancing instruction, discussion, writing and sharing with consistently empathetic feedback.
For example, every class starts with instruction and discussion related to the theme of the class. Then we offer a writing "prompt" to inspire the day's writing. Depending to the maturity level of the class (older teens tend to write longer), everyone writes in silence for 20-45 minutes. When everyone is finished writing, we take turns reading our writing out loud and giving positive feedback, in accordance with the Amherst Writing Method.
We believe the Amherst Writing Method is one of the most beautiful and encouraging writing methods in existence. It insists that we are all writers, that we all deserve unconditional creative support, and (to protect the privacy of the writer) that all writing is regarded as fiction and given only positive feedback, focused on the strength and authenticity of the writer's unique voice. When young people hear others affirm and appreciate their words, they realize their value and own their power.
"This program has made me 100% more confident and optimistic.” — TIWP student, age 16
3. Will my child get personalized support?
We have designed our programs to ensure personalized support—individualized encouragement, coaching and mentorship—for every writer in every class. We do this by keeping classes small, with no more than six writers per group. Within such a safe-space, young people also develop deep emotional bonds with each other.
“I feel so safe here. I can share things here that I can't share anywhere else.”
— TIWP student, age 17
4. Will this program improve my child's writing skills?
Yes, absolutely! The more young people write, the more articulate they become. And the best way to get kids to write more often is to make it fun, to support them in writing about what they love and what feels meaningful to them. That said, this is a writing-based empowerment program, so our first priority and primary focus is on strengthening the inner self. In other words, we use writing as as a tool—as "the way in"—for fostering emotional intelligence, personal growth, mental health, and self-esteem.
Instead of teaching technique or grammar, we support a love of both writing and self-inquiry. Because of this, our writers tell us that writing essays for school is "so much easier!" In fact, very few of our students need help on their college application essays because they already know who they are and how to tell their story. When young people are connected to their strengths and empowered to speak their truth, they are naturally eloquent.
“This experience really helped me grow as a person. I feel more confident of myself and my writing now.” —TIWP student, age 15
5. What if I miss a class?
Unfortunately, we cannot provide refunds for missed group classes. In the summer, we try to honor family vacation time by offering free make-up classes. During the school year, however, we are only closed for school holidays and missed classes cannot be refunded. Instead, we offer up to two private make-up classes per quarter, available on request.
“I didn’t understand myself before. Now I do. Now I know I can do anything.”
— TIWP Student, age 14
6. Is there any homework?
No homework ever! Each class is its own a self-contained experience. At the same time, girls are encouraged to use writing as a tool for personal clarity, self-discovery, and emotional self-care—whenever and wherever they need it!
“Every week I learn so much but it’s so much fun, it feels like the opposite of school!”
—TIWP Student, age 15
7. What's it like meeting online?
While we understand the apprehension about signing up for yet another online program, we have discovered that the magic of writing together in the same room still exists on Zoom! In fact, our students tell us that writing with us is "the opposite of school," and the one place they feel like they can really connect with their friends. That said, there's no substitute for personal experience. Because we want to empower teens to make their own decision, the first class is always considered a “taste test." If your child doesn't love the first class, we will provide a full refund.
“Both of my girls LOVE writing in your programs! I am so happy it worked out for them to do this. We are thrilled to see how they are being inspired and that their love of writing is growing. The online format works surprisingly well, too! ... Never before has finding and using your voice and being creative been more useful ... Less driving has been another perk!” — TIWP parent
“My daughter looks forward to your class all week. You are making a real and huge difference in her life. I really just can’t say enough about it. It’s remarkable how she’s found her voice with you. You have given so much and she is forever changed and expanded.” —TIWP parent