Frequently Asked Questions

Where did Authentic Writing come from?

Founded in 1993, Authentic Writing grew out of Fred Poole’s lifelong career as a professional writer followed by his years of serious practical study, first of drawing and painting and then of liberation theology. These three passionate pursuits ~ writing, art and a theology that celebrates God’s presence in the visible world ~ were critical to the creation of the Authentic Writing program.

What’s the difference between coming to the weekly groups and coming to a retreat?

The weekly groups maintain the momentum of the writing, ensuring that all participants are not just thinking about writing, but actually doing it. The weekly groups are a powerful adversary to all obstacles – tangible and intangible – that rear up to put a stop to writing. During the longer retreats stories unfold from stories and the momentum builds in a different way. Writers are drawn deeper and deeper into their own material, allowing a profound exploration to take place.

Is this art or is this therapy?

Art is therapeutic, there’s no question. And the better the art the more life-giving it is. When people write on their own terms – without loyalties to any technique or handed-down version of the truth — they invariably are rejuvenated.

What kinds of writers attend these workshops?

All kinds ~ from published writers to journalists, to those who are just beginning — and you usually cannot tell who is who. Novelists, screenwriters, poets and playwrights attend these workshops to unearth their most important material, and then mold it into their preferred form.

Why write in a group? Isn’t it better to write alone?

The groups generate enormous momentum and productivity. One receives immediate response to one’s work. One learns without being taught what makes a voice unique and what makes writing strong from listening to the work of others. The groups are high-octane fuel for the writing life.

Can you help with Writer’s Block?

Writer’s Block occurs when a writer gets trapped between wanting to write his story and unconscious loyalty to some forbidding authority – familial or institutional. It occurs when the writer tries to force herself into writing something in which someone else – but not the writer herself – believes. Authentic Writing is the writer’s ally. Writing Block almost always disappears – both suddenly and gradually — with unflagging support and continued writing.

What happens during a private session?

This varies greatly from writer to writer depending on what is needed at that moment. Sometimes writing takes place during the session. Or writing is brought to the session, read and discussed. Sometimes the private session is a chance to talk about possible new directions the writer can go in, or what the writer is avoiding in her work. These sessions can be especially useful to writes who are melding their stories into full-length works. For those who cannot get to weekly groups or for those who want, for whatever reason, focused individual attention.

What do people do with the writing they create in a workshop?

The stories written in these workshops become essential first drafts that writers go on to use as they wish. Some have transformed their workshop writing into poetry or plays, others into book-length manuscripts. Still others prefer to leave their writing as it first appears, seeing in these pieces a beauty that needs no alteration. Many current participants are finishing book projects, often using only material written in these workshops.