Teaching and Consulting

Welcome to our new Write Together session, June 10-17, 2023!

Write Together: June 10-17, 2023, 10-11 am CT and 7-8 pm CT every day (note time zone)

In the second offering of our Write Together session, we’ll convene in our Zoom Room for one-hour sessions twice-daily (drop in for one or both a day, or whatever suits your schedule). Each hour includes a brief reading and continues with a 30- to 45-minute guided prompt related to the theme of the day. Each day’s theme will be different, each session will feature a different reading and a different prompt, and all are designed to wake up the magical inner writer who lives within us all.

Each prompt and reading will be recorded separately, so if you miss one and want to catch up, you’ll be able to do so.

The Write Together session was inspired by my own yearly practice of a week devoted solely to generating new ideas, having fun, and playing around with cool new prompts. There’s something so comforting about knowing that a whole group –up to 30 of us in any given session– are writing together at the same time, each of us in our little Zoom boxes.

You won’t have to take a week off work or your daily routine –unless of course you want to–but you will have fourteen hour-long opportunities to write in a focused, intensive, exhilarating way in a room full of others doing exactly the same thing. Limited to 30. Come have fun and see what you come up with!

Fee: $200, payable via 1) Venmo to @Alison-McGhee-1, 2) Zelle to alisonmcghee@gmail.com, 3) Paypal to alison_mcghee@hotmail.com, or 4) by personal check. I also offer two $100 half price scholarships; tell me if you’d like one and it’s yours, no questions asked. Please email me with any questions.

Bonus: Weekly writing prompts will be emailed to you every Friday for one month after class.

Check back later for an updated 2023 workshop schedule (workshop descriptions below)

Words by Winter Half-day Writing Workshops: Could your creative spirit use a recharge? Come join me on my (virtual) porch for an exhilarating, fun, intensive workshop! All my 3.5-hour workshops are taught via Zoom and designed for writers of any and all experience. No preparation or skills required. Workshop offerings are regularly updated (check out the brand-new The Intuitive Leap class), and I’d also be happy to design one specifically for your writing group. Each workshop requires a minimum of five participants and is strictly capped at ten.

Half-day workshop fee: $100. Note that I also offer a pay-as-you’re-able option to participants under financial duress (I’ve been there myself), up to two per class, from $10-$95, no questions asked.

Registration and payment: To register for an individual workshop, email me at alisonmcghee@gmail.com or simply send payment and note which class you’re registering for. Registration is tentative until payment is received. You may send payment via Venmo to @Alison-McGhee-1, Zelle to alisonmcghee@gmail.com, Paypal to alison_mcghee@hotmail.com, or by personal check. Please email me with any questions.

The Freedom of Form

When you’re stuck in a piece of writing, feeling lifeless, what do you do? Grind through, hoping desperately that a window will open? Give up? Take a break? Declare yourself a failure and slink off to drown your sorrows? I’ve taken a shot at all these methods, and none of them work as well for me as re-framing the work itself. I give myself seemingly arbitrary rules to work within, e.g., Write this scene as a series of text messages, or, Write this novel as a series of one-hundred-word passages. 

The freedom of assigned form is real, people, and it’s why novels usually have chapters, and picture books are usually under 500 words. It’s why enduring forms of poetry like haiku and sonnets and sestinas are still alive and thriving. In this workshop, which is designed for writers in all genres, we will play with form as a way to open up your writing, your mind and your heart to the freedom and creativity inherent in all art. We’ll complete some in-class writings, discuss published works and in general have a great and exhilarating time.

Bonus: Weekly writing prompts will be emailed to you every Friday for one month after class.

Memoir in Moments: Writing Your Life

Maybe you’re at a new stage of life, looking back. Maybe you’re thinking about your family, or your children, and all the stories they might not know about you. Maybe you’re looking back on your childhood, the things you wondered about back then, the conversations you had, the places you went, how all of them were pieces of a much larger life puzzle. Think about that T-shirt you wore all the time in seventh grade. Think about your favorite dessert when you were five years old. Your favorite song as a senior in high school. The secret you’ve never told anyone. The dream that came true, and the one that didn’t. The unexpected turns your life has taken, and how they placed pattern to everything that came after. We’ll focus on memoir moments in this class, brief, specific writing prompts that shine up from the page and give readers a perhaps unexpected window into who you are. 

Bonus: Weekly writing prompts will be emailed to you every Friday for one month after class.

The Transformation of Trauma (note that this workshop is always free)

(Please note that I am not a therapist. This workshop was created from my own experiences of writing my way through times of great personal struggle.) Are you haunted by the memory of trauma? Maybe someone sexually assaulted you, or abused you over a long period of time. Maybe as a child, or adult, you struggled through domestic violence or emotional manipulation. If your life is compromised by these memories, and you’re looking for a way to work through them and find a happier and more peaceful life, welcome to this workshop. The making of art, in all its many and varied forms, can be a profound way to make sense of past experiences that were unfair, unwanted, and cruel. We’ll do some brief writings, read and discuss a few short readings, and hopefully find ways to unlock your own power. This class is designed for people of any writing ability or experience – all are welcome. 

The Art of Writing Picture Books

Do you love picture books? Have you ever wanted to write one? Are you curious how to go about it? Welcome to my one-day picture book writing workshop! In our intensive, fun class, we’ll deconstruct some classic picture books, talk about ideas for new ones, and go through all the nuts and bolts, such as how long can a picture book be? What’s the relationship between writer and artist? How do you write a picture book that children will love and adults won’t mind reading ten thousand times in a row? We’ll come up with ideas, draft a basic outline for one or more picture books, read aloud some favorite passages, and leave time for specific questions. 

The Intuitive Leap

Let’s play! Forget your conscious self and see what your subconscious has to offer you instead. It’s stunning how the being who lives deep within you can twist and turn and open up your words. This class is based on my own experience with the artist I refer to as my underground writer, who is always working on behalf of me and my writing. Sometimes I give her assignments, such as “Please come up with a picture book that’s pure joy, about the love between a father and his baby,” and then let her go to town, which is exactly how I came up with my forthcoming book Baby Be. Through a series of short prompts and discussion, we’ll learn how to let go and let your subconscious show you the way. This is a brand-new workshop and I’d love to see you in it. 

Bonus: Weekly writing prompts will be emailed to you every Friday for one month after class.

(NOTE: THIS CLASS IS ALREADY FULL) Building a Story: An Ongoing Workshop

This five-week class is designed for fiction, memoir, creative nonfiction, and poetry writers. (It’s not designed for picture book writers, but what the heck, you might like it anyway.) Each week will focus on a different, essential craft of good storytelling, from character development to dialogue to narrative arc to the creative process itself. We’ll examine both published work and class submissions. Participants are welcome (but never required!) to share their work with the class as a whole. Building a Story is strictly limited to eight participants, with detailed weekly individual feedback from me. This five-session class has filled almost immediately each time it’s been offered in the past, so if you’re interested I encourage you to register soon. Participants are welcome (but never required!) to share their work with the class as a whole. Bonus: I’ll send out a weekly writing prompt every Friday for the month following class. Fee: $500 (no discounts for this class).

Comments from past participants

New and experienced writers alike who are lucky enough to take an Alison McGhee class will find their writing explored and uplifted, examined and celebrated, but always, always improved, in her skilled and gentle hands. (Tara G.)

Alison’s writing programs have been a revelation. I’ve taken writing programs in the past that made me swear I would never write another word, but Alison has a knack for bringing out the very best in the writers who study with her, even when “the best” is something they never knew they were capable of. Her teaching is fiercely intelligent, fiercely gentle, empathetic, deeply informed, and never patronizing or condescending. Take a leap of faith and try one of her classes. You’ll never look back.  (Janet M.)

Alison’s teaching has this amazing after-effect, an echo, a vibration, that comes from her voice, her sympathy, her encouragement of good words. (Tim N.)

Alison brings to her role as teacher an impressive combination of skills – passion, knowledge and depth of experience in the craft of writing, expert facilitation skills that creates a safe space for participants, and a seamless ability to keep the group moving. But what sets Alison apart is her unique ability to support people in their frailty as they explore sometimes difficult material in their lives or the lives of their characters. Alison’s immense humanity never makes a writer feel like they are going somewhere entirely alone. There’s always the feeling that she’ll catch you if you fall, and guide you back to the work at hand – the gift of storytelling.  (Tessa V.)

The only thing better than reading Alison’s blog posts or listening to her podcast is spending time with her in the writing workshops. She quickly helped me generate material which later became a short series of poems. Sharpen your #2s and get to writing. (William B.)

Prompts that prompt you to stretch your thinking, tips that you can use beyond the class, and discussions that lead to insights make Alison’s workshops worth every minute you spend with her. (Pauline C.)

I’ve taken several of Alison McGhee’s workshops and have loved every one of them. Alison is not only a wonderful writer, she is a terrific teacher. Alison has a true gift of connection and of helping her students tap into the deepest, juiciest parts of themselves and their fictional characters and share those parts on the page. Take any–and all–of Alison’s offerings! (Diane G.)

Alison is so very kind and responsive.  Her prompts are the most inventive I have ever seen. She gently guides you into new territory and eases you into taking writing risks without you realizing it. Take one of her workshops and reap the benefits. (Keyan K.)

Writing Consultation

Are you feeling lost with a writing project? Wondering if it’s heading in the right direction, if you can make it better, if a different form or point of view or tense or structure or even genre would better suit your intention? Maybe you’ve dusted off an old manuscript and are wondering if there’s any life left in it. Maybe you’ve written a story and you know something‘s not quite right about it, but what could that not-quite-right-ness be? Maybe you’re working on a novel but are beginning to think it should be a series of linked poems instead?

As a restless writer who writes in all forms for all ages, I can relate to your wonderment and questions. If I have time in my schedule I’d be happy to aside time, via email or Zoom, to explore your questions and ideas. I’ve been both a writer and a teacher of writing my entire life, and helping to kindle the creative spark in someone else’s words is a privilege and an honor. Note that I will always center you and your dreams, you and your words, in my responses to your work.

Fee: $150/hour.

Haiku for You

Send me a photo, and I will write a haiku just for you from that photo. I’ll mail it to you, signed and handwritten on a sheet of cardstock. Editions are limited to 1/1. This is a perfect gift for birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays. All proceeds from Haiku for You are donated to the Eben Ezer School in Haiti, a school I help support in northern Haiti which was founded and is run by the nonprofit Life and Hope Haiti.

Haiku for You – $30 (includes shipping and handling).

Manuscript Critique Services

Sometimes, if I have time, I enjoy working one on one with serious writers who are looking for a careful, devoted reading and critique of their manuscripts. Over the years I’ve been a writer and a teacher of writing, I’ve worked in and with many different forms, including novels (adult, young adult and children’s), memoirs, short story collections, essay collections and general nonfiction.

Critique service includes the following for manuscripts between 30,000-60,000 words (an additional $1000 for every 20,000 words beyond that):

An initial careful reading.
2. A second careful reading, including line-editing, margin notes and copy-editing throughout.
3. A detailed critique letter, including overall comments and specific suggestions for revision.
4. A one-hour follow-up consultation, either in person, over the phone, via Skype, or via email (your choice), plus follow-up questions.
$3000, payable via Venmo, Zelle, Paypal or personal check.

For more information, please email me at alisonmcghe@gmail.com.