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Writing Alone and with Others

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  547 ratings  ·  60 reviews
For more than a quarter of a century, Pat Schneider has helped writers find and liberate their true voices. She has taught all kinds--the award winning, the struggling, and those who have been silenced by poverty and hardship. Her innovative methods have worked in classrooms from elementary to graduate level, in jail cells and public housing projects, in convents and semin ...more
Paperback, 390 pages
Published August 28th 2003 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 2003)
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4.20  · 
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 ·  547 ratings  ·  60 reviews

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Jul 08, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teachers, writers, workshop leaders
This book is organized according to its title: the first half describes methods to help and encourage the writer in his/her solitary practice, and the second half describes Schneider's method for working with writers in groups. Her belief is that a "writer is someone who writes," and the focus of this book is really on prodding and guiding her readers to do what they have to do to keep writing. Although her sympathetic tone sometimes made me cringe (words like safety and healing abound), Schneid ...more
Jun 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Pat Schneider's WRITING ALONE AND WITH OTHERS is familiar fare to warriors of the "How to Write" wars. Part One "The Writer Alone" is sound and helps buck you up, so to speak. I page-by-paged my way through. Part Two "Writing with Others" is geared more to participants or moderators of workshops (such as Pat Schneider herself). In this section I found myself skipping pages. Does not apply. Does not apply. Etc.

The last part is "additional exercises" to supplement the many provided throughout the
Marsha Altman
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Read for work.
Brian Kelley
Jan 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pawlp-library
I spent the better part of two years researching a plan for the development of our current creative writing course and the past two years teaching it and adjusting it according to the needs of our students. In that time I have picked up many articles and books on writing. I've found that many books address the craft from the perspective of writers trying to publish. I've come across few which tackle the specific needs of an instructor and the best of that small selection is Pat Schneider's Writi ...more
Sue Bridehead (A Pseudonym)
Jun 05, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommended to Sue Bridehead (A Pseudonym) by: Christina F.
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
This book is most useful for writers hoping to lead a workshop, particularly with underserved communities.

For writers writing alone -- the exercises are helpful, but they're embedded in a lot of description and are demonstrated with examples done by beginners. This is not a book for experienced writers to flip through in search of a quickie writing prompt.

Rather, it's a book that's intended for total beginners and experts looking to teach total beginners.

That being said, as a non-beginner, I g
A.J. Bauers
This book is getting five stars based solely on the amount of times I had to stop reading this book so I could write (6 times). And I don't mean write for my own works in progress or homework, I mean write for the pure pleasure of it.

Pat Schneider made me start keeping a journal again (let's hope it lasts this time) and she also made me write a few poems and songs which I have always sworn I am incapable of. True, I still don't feel adequate in this area (and you can be sure I don't want people
Apr 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Anyone who's been beaten down by writing workshops, or who is thinking of starting his/her own writing workshop, must pick up this book immediately. Schneider's method and philosophy has almost completely changed the way I think about writing--no small feat, since I've been thinking about writing my entire life. I'm sure her overwhelming positivity will wear off in a few days, but even knowing there IS a way to improve writing without being critical is fairly revolutionary. Workshops in MFA prog ...more
♥ Ibrahim ♥
No, five stars are not enough for such a book! What can I say! This woman is real angel, in her spirit, in her humility, in her caring heart, in her willingness to feel the pain of the beginning writer and those who already write and need some motivation here and there… I am speechless when it comes to giving such impressive works like that their due credit while I disagree with her in some ways on some core issues but none of this matters as she compels you to love her to pieces and be grateful ...more
Jun 27, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writers, teachers, activists
Shelves: writing
Used this book in a course I teach on peer education theory and practice. Schneider's assertion that anyone can write made some students uncomfortable. They missed the point that a writer must develop the ability; Schneider's goal is to help writers get out of their own way.

A companion DVD (same title) is available that includes interviews and some mini-documentaries about Schneider's work with a writing group in MA; the members are women who live in low-income housing.
Michael Holland
Oct 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
For writers who want help in either teaching in the A.W.A. method, or for writers who can use help when they have writer's block, overcoming fear, and developing lasting work, this informative book gives detailed information of how to overcome these obstacles. I cannot say enough about Pat Schneider, and this is a must for writers.
Pickle Farmer
Mar 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book changed my life. I read it in March after getting back from March. It brought tears to my eyes because its advice was so kind and nurturing and encouraging. Definitely one of my favorite self-help books of all time.
Jane Penland Hoover
If you love writing in a group or alone this is a book for you. I studied with the author in her home and have been leading writing groups ever since. Engaging and encouraging of both the person and a writing life.
Nov 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Although I'm not actually finished with this book, I'm through about 1/2 of it and can give it four stars without hesitation. It will definitely be one of those books I pick up again and again. A great writing resource and companion.
This was one of the very first books I read about writing. Back when I didn't know enough to appreciate it. I reread it in 2008 and now it's one of my favorite sources for teaching and for writing exercises.
Jul 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Currently re-reading this excellent book in preparation for my writers retreat this weekend. Pat Schneider is the lonely writer's voice of comfort and reason.
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
After today, I will no longer give a star rating for a book - if it is possible to leave the rating blank. It has made me uncomfortable from the start. I certainly am not qualified as a critic. Read this book and you will know why I have chosen to refrain from giving stars in the future.
Some powerful quotes about "writing with others":
"Each writer [in a workshop or writing group] is finding his or her way to voice. It cannot be coerced, and it cannot be given form or shape by anyone else."
Diana Derringer
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
In Writing Alone and with Others, Pat Schneider details the Amherst Writers and Artists workshop method. Personal and group experiences, writing samples, and practical advice address common fears and struggles of both aspiring and experienced writers. She weaves everything together with liberal doses of encouragement. The concluding statement of Peter Elbow’s foreword summarizes the book well: Pat Schneider’s book makes you want to sit down and start writing.” Reader alert: The book contains sev ...more
Lina Anachebe
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love the fact that shes interested in creating impact and empowering the less privileged through her writing workshop. Very good and inspiring book especially for those looking to write or have a writing workshop. Pat breaks it down and even provides exercises to help the reader.
Lynda Allison
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I identified with Schneider on many levels and trust that as I continue to implement her methodology, writers will be encouraged and use their voices to share their stories.
My first takeaway from this reading experience is that when you think you are replacing a lost print book with an e-book, double check the title and author! So, that's a good lesson to have. Fortunately, I picked this up on Amazon for something like $1.99, so it was not an expensive lesson. The book I was trying to replace was Judy Reeves' 2002 Writing Alone, Writing Together.

My best takeaway from this reading was the reminder that everyone has an original voice, a primary voice, and a lot of a
Oct 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I love this book.

Although I agree with other reviewers that it is at best a guide to writers who want to learn how to be gentle, professional workshop leaders of writing groups, I feel all writers who read other authors writings in workshops would benefit from her wise experience. I have had the benefit of her guidance in many workshops without having known the origin of the culture of manners that I experienced. I wish that her ideas had already influenced the teaching of creative writing in hi
Mar 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read this as part of my training with the Toronto Writer's Collective.

But my goodness, what a book. Pat Schneider has such wisdom about writing. Her philosophy makes so much sense to me. Schneider has spent years of her life running writing workshops, including workshops for disadvantaged populations. As such she has developed the most egalitarian approach to teaching writing that I've ever come across. Rather than re-inflict the damage of teacher's pulling apart grammar without ever commenti
Allison Justus
Jan 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
I've read all but the exercises section at the end. I'm very glad I read this book. It was given to me as a gift my first year as a public school teacher, but I spent that first year so constantly exhausted that when I picked up the book then, I didn't get past Peter Elbow's forward. Now in my third year of teaching, having regained the mental/creative space for critically examining how I teach writing and for renewing my own writing life, I picked up this book again. It spoke to me as both an a ...more
Jun 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
A book for a writer to pick up again and again and learn something.
My some favorite lines:

"The first step in becoming free of fear is to accept yourself as a writer. None of us creates ex nihilo (out of nothing)." - Wow, does this take the pressure off. If we are the sum of people that we've met, then might it be possible that our writing reflects the sum of all that we have read?

"The second, understand that all our memories are already fiction." How interesting. Taking non-fiction to make it
Mary Ann
Feb 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I love this book so much. I first heard of Pat Schneider and the Amherst Writers & Artists method several years ago from reading Cary Tennis's advice column, Since You Asked. I checked it out of the library because I've just started writing my first book and thought it might help. I love that Pat starts right at the beginning with fear: the writer's fear, the fears that sit there in our path, blocking the way. Yay, Pat! I immediately ordered my own copy of the book and I'm almost f ...more
Sep 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I found this book inspiring and practical. She explains many dilemmas and fears that many writers encounter as they start writing again or if they already are writing, but are have a bought of writer's block. Her real life examples, writing samples, and writing exercises helped me open up my creative mind. Now when I sit down to write, I feel more relaxed and my ideas feel more natural and easy flowing. I recommend this book to anyone looking to improve their writing and creativity. It teaches y ...more
Jan 06, 2014 added it
Shelves: writer-workshop
The founder of the Amherst Writers and Artists workshop method has compiled her advice and techniques to encourage writers through the writing process. Divided into three parts, the reader can piece together their own lessons. Part one focuses on fostering a safe and comfortable mentality while developing work. Part two addresses the Amherst Writers and Artists method of workshops for group writing and critiquing. Part three contains several additional exercises for individuals. Suggested furthe ...more
Nov 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book on how to create a writing practice either on your own or in a group. Packed with prompts, ideas, helpful tips, hints, and stories about the joy and difficulties of writing.

Pat Schneider starts the book with all the blocks writers face, from the inner critic to not knowing what to write about.

The next part of the book, Schneider brings in the Amherst Writers and Artists Workshop method--a popular way to get started and keep writing.

Schneider includes sections on fiction and p
Aaron Woodsworth
Jun 26, 2008 is currently reading it
It's been a while since I picked up any sort of "kick start the writing process" book, but this one looks interesting, so I'm curious.

Maybe it will convince me of the one thing that I already know---just write. I guess that sometimes it's the tone of the voice that tells me that that needs variation.

There are much worse things to read than books telling you to write and giving you tips and confidence...
Joules Evans
Aug 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Great not just good read. Will sit on the shelf of honor with Bird by Bird and Still Writing and Big Magic and my most fave writing/creative books. Will be taken down from the shelf often for reference, for writing prompts, for workshop fodder. Read this with my writing club. Prob the best book I know for writing groups and workshops. I have been working on my own writing workshop and this was a superempowering read for me.
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(Please note that I do not use Goodreads actively: my blog posts here are updated automatically from my website. If you would like to get in touch with me, please visit Thank you.)

I am a writer of poetry, plays, libretti and non-fiction, and I am the founder of Amherst Writers and Artists. For thirty-four years I have taught writing in Massachusetts and around the world.

My t
“If I am an artist, I have a vocation. As one drawn to a lover or called to a religious mission, I go to my work—my writing—because it is essential to my happiness.” 3 likes
“Writing is an animal that lives in the soul. It must not be whipped into doing tricks. It is not a circus animal. It can be fierce, but it is not malevolent. It can be playful, but it is not without wisdom. Above all, it is wild. A wild animal has to sleep sometimes. This is a time of deep sleep for my writing.” 2 likes
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