“Writing as an art form belongs to all people, regardless of economic class or educational level. . . . A writer is someone who writes.” -Pat Schneider
Does it feel audacious to consider yourself a writer?
For much of my life it was impossible to consider myself a writer. Even though I used writing to navigate life, make sense of what I was feeling or to tell stories that seemed to rise up from no where. It wasn’t until I connected with other writers in an Amherst Writers and Artist workshop did I start to think of myself as a writer (and that was after 3 years).
I want to help you know you are a writer, no matter your level of experience or your genre.
I believe everyone is a writer and has stories, words and images the world needs to hear. I believe that we when dare to write our words and stories, magic happens and hearts open. Writing to Open Your Heart is an online weekly creative writing workshop based on the Amherst Writers and Artist Method. The AWA method creates a safe nurturing environment to access and learn to trust your voice. You can read more about AWA here.
As a certified AWA Leader, I lead you through weekly writing sessions as we write in real-time with up to 8 other writers from all over the world in the comfort of your own home using video conferencing.
This writing workshop is open all writers, regardless of level of experience or genre. We come together to create a supportive community where we witness not only our own growth but the growth of others. It is a powerful experience.
When you join Writing to Open Your Heart workshop you give yourself the gift of time, making your writing a priority. You become part of a supportive community of writers that help you develop and honor your authentic voice.
How it works:
We will meet once a week over 8 weeks for two hours each writing session. Space is limited to 8 writers for this writing workshop.We will write together in real-time via a free HD video conference service (similar to Google Hangouts but better) for each writing session. After writing together, each writer is given the opportunity to read their work out loud if they choose. Writers will receive feedback from fellow writers about what worked or stayed with the listeners. This is a very powerful process that creates a safe environment to explore and learn to trust your authentic voice.
This is very different than other writing workshops or retreats, there is no criticism on first draft material. There is a time and place for constructive criticism but not here, now we are growing, nurturing, allowing the heart to expand and finding the courage to let others hear our words.
In addition, each writer will have the opportunity to submit a short piece of writing to me for an optional manuscript review. Again, this process is grounded in the principals of Amherst Writers and Artists method.
Currently there are no online workshops being offered. Please sign up for my newsletter to get information about the next session of the online Writing to Open Your Heart workshop.
“I’m so grateful you created this community; it’s such a safe and generous space!” -Kim, workshop participant
Writing to Open Your Heart is only $300 for 8 weeks of writing together in a safe supportive community.
Sign up for Open Heart Letters to receive early registration notice (and a discount)
Why I teach creative writing workshops and retreats:
Writing is the way I breathe and make sense of the world. I am a writer and an artist with over 13 years of experience with the Amherst Writers and Artist Method. I am someone who was told I never could write and learned to overcome the doubt and fear to put myself out there anyways (watch the video above for the whole story).
The gift of owning my identity as a writer came from the years I participated in an Amherst Writer and Artist (AWA) creative writing workshop. One of the basic foundations of the AWA method is the profound belief that everyone is a writer (no matter background, education or life circumstance) and everyone has a creative genius. The years I spent in the warm nurturing environment of an AWA workshop helped me learn not only to hear my writing voice but to trust and own it. It is because of the AWA method I can call myself a writer.
I became a certified AWA workshop leader because I want to help give this gift to others. I want you to know the deep profound joy and connection available to when you learn to hear and trust your creative writing voice. You can read more in these posts:
“At least I understood that writing was this: an impulse to share with other people a feeling or truth that I myself had. Not to preach to them, but to give it to them if they cared to hear it.” ― Brenda Ueland
Participation is simple, all you need is:
- A Computer
- Broadband internet that will support video conferencing
- A webcam and a headset with a mic.
- Notebooks and pens
- Time to attend each writing session at the scheduled times
- An open mind to trust the next thought, image, or word.
- Willingness to suspend judgement and self-condemnation.
- Willingness to be vulnerable
Registering for Writing to Open Your Heart: A Creative Writing Workshop you get:
- Time dedicated to writing each week
- 8 writing sessions led by me, a trained workshop leader certified in Amherst Writers and Artists Method
- A proven writing method designed to help you access your natural voice and creativity
- An abundance of writing prompts designed to stimulate your Creative Genius
- Weekly resources to enhance your writing practice
- Clear and concise guidelines to create a safe and nurturing retreat environment to grow your creativity and writing
- Over 16 hours of writing in real-time with other writers from around the world
- An opportunity to join the Writing to Open Your Heart Facebook group to connect with other writers and support your writing practice.
- An opportunity to not only hear your voice but share it with others
- An opportunity to get feedback on what works and stays with others in your writing
- An optional manuscript review of a short piece of your writing
- Newly drafted fresh and creative writing you can continue to develop after the workshop
- Most importantly, the satisfaction that you prioritized your creative writing
What Others are saying about Kira:
Kira has a gift of observing and communicating what she sees in a way that inspires me to look again, from a different point of view that enriches what I first saw.
She has a passion for writing, communicating (in words and images), sharing and growing. Kira’s capacity for deep listening and reflection + her way of guiding helps draw these capacities out in others.
Kira knows how to move through life’s pain using writing and photography to be present with it and transform it. Kira is an extremely talented woman with an extreme capacity to see and be a supportive witness to others as they move through vulnerable times. She is real, down to earth and safe. She is deep, loving and generous. Kira holds wisdom from personal experience that connects us quickly with her. Her process and ability to share from the heart help others feel safe to do the same.
Because Kira is learning how to embrace both grief and joy in her life, she’s able to share how she does it with others. Following her recent foot surgery, she had to ask for help and accept it. Through her example, I’ve been learning how to do the same. I think because Kira is a genuine person that her class on Writing To Open Your Heart will be filled with support and understanding. There is a deep current of feeling that runs through Kira’s writing. Learning to open your heart through writing will be well worth the time and investment with a gifted person like Kira!
When I read Kira’s writing, it feels just like I am sitting next to her, being part of the place where she is writing, experiencing her feelings as the way she describes the setting and the situations she is going through speak directly to the heart (feelings) and to my imagination (scenery/setting). One thing I’ve learned from Kira is the courage she shows by sharing authenticity, her real self, without opting for a pseudonym, without hiding, without glossing over the truth. I really like her down-to-earth character, no nonsense mentality and I value these strengths of hers deeply.
I think it’s pretty clear Kira is not afraid to be vulnerable even when it’s uncomfortable. That is a huge strength. Many people deny and hide but she seems to be able to or at least try to sit with “it” and deal and feel. I think she has a lot to teach people about that. Kira practices what she preaches and puts in lots of time and action into cultivating an open heart in the face of some difficult situations.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
I don’t consider myself a writer, can I still join?
Yes, this workshop is for new writers as well as experienced ones. The AWA method creates equality among all of the writers.
What kinds of writers can participate?
Anyone who writes is a writer in AWA. There is no such thing “good” writer—it doesn’t matter if you are published or not, or are even be interested in publication. Remember, a writer is someone who writes!
I write fiction (insert any genre), can I still participate?
Yes, you can write about any topic in any genre—fiction, poetry, non-fiction, dialogue for a play or screenplay. Whatever wants to be written. Whatever arises up that day. It is all writing and it is all worthwhile.
Do I have to be logged in to the retreat at a certain times?
Yes, it is important that all writers are present for the writing sessions. Each writing session is 2 hours. Trust is built by consistency and the other writers need you there.
What forms of payment do you accept?
Payment is handled safely and securely through PayPal, which accepts most major credit cards and some other forms of payment. Once you’ve registered, you’ll be directed to a website to complete your registration by joining the private email list.
Do you offer scholarships?
Yes, I offer a limited number of reduced registration for each writing workshop (normally one per workshop). Please email me directly to inquire about a scholarship. You may contact me here.
What is your refund and cancellation policy?
All sales of digital products downloadable upon confirmation of purchase are final. Kira Elliott, LLC does not accept cancellations once your order is placed. All in person and online workshops, courses and trainings being given during a specific time period are eligible for refunds for up to 7 days from the first day of class. After that time period has passed, no refunds will be given.
Can I get a receipt for tax purposes?
PayPal emails you a receipt automatically.
Is there anything I need to do to prepare?
I will send out instructions for using the Zoom video conferencing service once you are registered. So aside from making sure you have gone to Zoom.us and downloaded the plugin for the video conference before the first writing session begins, there is no preparation or reading is required for the workshop—you simply need to have something available to write on–computer, pen, and paper or whatever works best for you. However, if you are the type who likes to prepare, you can read Writing Alone and With Others by Pat Schneider to learn more about AWA, but it is not necessary.
Do I need to buy or download any software?
No software to buy. You will need to download a plug-in for the video conferencing service used to hold my retreats and workshops one-time only. Once you’re enrolled and paid, a few days before the start of your workshop or retreat, you’ll receive a meeting invite with a link. Clicking on the link take to you the site to download the plug-in, test your audio/video, and then take you to the meeting. It is best to do this a day or so before the workshop or retreat or to allow yourself an extra 10 to 15 minutes before the first workshop/retreat starts to do this.
What if I don’t have a web camera? Can I still participate using audio only?
No, it’s really important that all members of the retreat or workshop can see each other. This is part of what creates connection and the safe environment. Most computers these days have a webcam built-in and external webcams compatible with most computers can be purchased for very little investment.
Why do I need a headset when my computer has speakers and a microphone?
The speakers and microphones on most computers are so close to each other that one echoes the sound of the other and makes both useless. Headsets compatible with most computers can be purchased for very little investment. Some cell phone headsets are also compatible with some computer/tablet devices.
What about security? Can anyone listen in on the virtual workshops?
No. I use a secure video conference service and password protect each meeting. Only someone with a link and password can get join. If a participant shares his/her link with people who aren’t enrolled, the moderator can see that on her console and remove that person immediately. Also, the workshops are not recorded to ensure confidentiality and privacy of the writers.
What are system requirements for Zoom Conferencing service?
Please click HERE for more information about systems requirements.
If you have any other questions not addressed please don’t hesitate to contact me here.