Matthew Adams is a journeyman writer and teacher with degrees in education and fiction writing from the University of Pittsburgh and Bennington College. He has over ten years of experience teaching in secondary and post-secondary schools, including Penn State, Duquesne, Point Park, and CCAC. His talent lies in helping students find voices to match their experiences, identify and resolve whatever writing issues this presents, and replace their doubt and self-consciousness with a more open, honest, and grounded appreciation of what their writing has to offer. Read more of his biography and approach in the "About" section. To reach him directly with questions or comments, email email@example.com
Transformative Writing: The Art of Journaling
Transformative writing infuses traditional journaling with the conscious artistry of creative literature, transforming both the work and the writer into fuller, more dynamic creations of the artistic process. The workshops will focus on various elements of journal writing through different stages of process in order to facilitate an intimacy with ourselves, our subjects, and each other as writers and struggling, evolving human beings; thus, they are appropriate for writers with a range of experience levels and a variety of purposes and goals—artistic, spiritual, therapeutic. Over four sessions, we will sample various approaches to the full realization of journal writing: the inspirations and tools we can use from our daily lives, the artistic forms we can employ, the ways we can formally develop the writing in accordance with our emerging relationship with it, and finally, what we can do, through sharing and performance, with what we’ve created so that we can continue to feed the echo of ourselves the process creates.
The workshop is structured in sessions of varying length and format:
Session 1 :: Inspiration
Session 2 :: Crafting
Session 3 :: Revision
Session 4 :: Reinvention
*See "On the Calendar" below for upcoming Sessions.
**See "About" for further descriptions of each.
This workshop is for novice and experienced writers seeking a more fulfilling connection to, and growth in, their work, themselves, and their sense of community.
Group size of Sessions 1 and 4 is 8-20 participants. Group size of Sessions 2 and 3 is 4-8 participants.
Cost of each session is $39.00*, though package pricing is available (see the "Tickets and Registration" page to register), and includes the workshop, a 20% donation to the space we'll be working in, and for Sessions 2 and 3, continuous, written feedback by the instructor.
*Some out-of-town workshops may be priced higher due to travel costs.
On the Calendar:
June 18, July 16, August 20 - 7:00P-9:00P
Transformative Writing: A Spiritual Journal
First United Methodist Church of Pittsburgh
5401 Centre Ave, Pittsburgh, PA
We spend much of our lives in the search for meaning and an effort to articulate for ourselves and others what this search reveals to us. From this effort, we find the identity of our spiritual selves. Because all growth starts with a confrontation of what already is, journaling becomes a primary tool by which we confront the life paths contained within our spiritual journeys; it serves a cartography of what each path looks and acts like in our daily spiritual lives; and it helps us identify and integrate the meaning of those paths in order to create a thematic understanding of our individual and communal missions. You are warmly invited to attend a series of writing workshops designed to help you create and utilize, deepen and strengthen, your own spiritual-journaling practice. Over the course of three sessions, participants will identify and examine their current spiritual condition, trace and connect this with their particular spiritual pasts, and define their individual and communal future course.
Session 1 Review: Here and Now
1) Spirituality concerns the framework of thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and behaviors we exhibit and experience during the course of our daily lives.
2) These thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and behaviors, both conscious and unconscious, can positively and negatively affect our spiritual health.
3) Writing is a process by which we engage conscious reflection in order to break through the barriers that consciousness itself builds between us and our guiding spirits (ie, higher powers), whether those spirits are religious in nature or come from, and are inherent to, only us.
4) Much of spiritual conflict or crisis results from, or leads to, a feeling of limitation, of being trapped in a particular point of view about our identities and experiences.
5) When we recognize the dual nature of experience and confront the choices we have in our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and behaviors, we create a space for spiritual growth by identifying key themes of our spiritual journeys (life paths). This confrontation is an act of raising awareness and affirming our individual will and freedom.
1) Free-write for 15-30 minutes about a current experience or event that you find to be particularly “charged;” that is, to have a particular spiritual importance to you either now or in what you anticipate as the future it holds for you. This experience can be either celebratory (spiritually uplifting) or challenging (conflict-inducing).
2) Identify in your free-writing one or two key emotional elements of this event or experience and create a list of related emotions to more fully explore and specify these elements (so if something is positively charged, then your list would try to cover a fuller range of what that encompasses and relates to; the same goes if it is negatively charged). Then write a paragraph summarizing this list and putting it into a fuller context with the original experience.
3) Identify the oppositional elements of this list (thus, if it was initially positive, you would then focus on what is negatively charged about it, and vice versa) and create a list for that. Then write a paragraph summarizing this new list, putting it into a fuller context with the original experience. Please note that you might struggle to complete this step, especially if you feel strongly in the original emotional charge, but please press on, as it’s very important to the awareness of choice.
4) From both the positive and negative paragraphs, you want to choose or create two statements that summarize a belief held within them. These statements might follow the patterns of cause and effect, such as “If not for A happening, then I wouldn’t feel B” or “Unless I feel A, then B won’t happen” or “A makes me feel B,” etc.,., or they might be definitive in nature, such as "This is what A means to me in situations like which I feel B."
5) These two statements present to you your choices in how to look at an experience, but they also represent the dual truth of the experience. Thus, one might feel uncomfortable to you while the other doesn’t. The last paragraph of this exercise should be a reflective paragraph about what you think of these truths. This represents your response to their call, one in which you can allow for one set of feelings while adhering to, affirming, or integrating the other.
6) This is a complex and challenging process, and like most complex and challenging things, you will be able to make of it some interesting variations and come to some important realizations, among them the identification of several of these spiritual themes and a recognition of the role they play in your life. In Session 2, we will start to look into the past to identify how these themes have occurred to you and brought you into the present. Until then, please practice this exercise as often as you can. Make a goal of generating several responses, however many seem reasonable (one per week? two per week?) so that we can review them and use them as a springboard for discussion.
Session 2 – Now and Then
The goals of Session One included defining the driving emotional tones behind spiritually charged experiences of the immediate present and seeing those experiences as dualistic in nature; that is, as having both positive and negative emotional truths embedded in them. We then looked to use our recognition of these positive and negative truths to affirm our choices in how we look to embrace those experiences. However, even with such choices before us, we are often pulled toward a singular point of view (seeing an experience as either positive or negative), which ends up furthering a sense of separation, both within ourselves and from others, and thus creating a sense of spiritual crisis, dysfunction, or disconnection. Positive experiences, then, being celebratory, too often seem to originate externally (as gifts from the universe, God, some “other”), and we too often direct the resulting good feelings back to a source that exists “out there.” Negative experiences, being conflicting, too often seem to originate from inside ourselves (as a sense of being “singled out,” isolated, punished, etc.,.) and we direct the resulting guilt, shame, aggression inward (even when we direct it outward, we do so with the goal of broadening our guilt, shame, etc.,.). This separation of ourselves both within and from others—which otherwise would help us find spiritual balance—is a result of not just this one present day experience, but a whole history of like experiences. Session 2 asks us to take a look and track this history in order to uncover personal spiritual themes.
We can track this history in three ways, each asking participants to generate lists of memories.
1) The first list of memories would be around the present day experience as it has been lived before with the same person or event. So if your present day experience involves, for example, being loved by a partner you admire, then you would look to uncover other experiences with that. Or if it involves a fear of vulnerability around heights, then you would track your fear of heights through your memory and list those.
2) The second list asks you to track the present day experience through “proxy” people or events. Thus if you might find that your celebration of being loved by a partner you admire is similar to that which you felt when your parents were proud of you, or when your children expressed their own admiration of you. Or you might find that your fear of vulnerability around heights is similar to your fear of vulnerability about taking on a new job, or driving in rush hour traffic. These are less strictly related to the present day experience you’re writing about, but still strongly connected through past relationships and experiences in the outside world.
3) The third list asks you to track the present day experience through its emotional tone. That is, any experience of which that emotional tone reminds you. This is the least connected to the present day experience but also is the most connected to the spiritual conflict or celebration that the present day experience invokes in you.
Out of each of these lists, pull a memory to write about in one brief, descriptive paragraph. Try to be as factual as possible, and end each paragraph with both the positive and negative belief statements you created when writing about the original present day experience (from Session 1). Then end the paragraph with your prayer, affirmation, or blessing. We will review these in our third and final session of this workshop, which will focus on manifesting peace and spiritual balance in these emotional themes.
Rhythm for the Spoken Word
with Bryan Fazio*
Music and literature represent two of our oldest forms of artistic expression. From the sacred ceremonial drumming of ancient cultures to the raw, spontaneous energy of contemporary writing and speech, these arts have always played defining roles in how we shape and share our experiences. You are warmly invited to join Bryan Fazio and Matthew Adams for a workshop that explores what happens when we bring them together. In this rhythm-based, spoken word experience, Bryan will facilitate an approach to drumming that welcomes all participants to lose their inhibitions and experience the pure, blissful joy that making music brings, and Matthew will lead writing exercises designed to help participants uncover and express the emotions and reflections such a process inspires. We will then explore ways of integrating these expressions into supportive and gratifying individual and group performances that will remind us all of what it feels like to be vital, unique members of a supportive artistic community.
*visit Bryan on the web at http://www.bryanfazio.com/bio.htm
This workshop is designed for drummers and writers of all ages and experience levels.
Group size is 10-20 participants.
Cost of the workshop is $30 per person (special "performance" events may be different), and includes the three-hour workshop and a %20 donation to the space we'll be working in. To register, please go to the "Tickets and Registration" page.
On the Calendar:
The Continuum is a writing group comprised mostly of past participants of the Transformative Writing workshops who want to maintain a focus on the projects they carry out of that experience. This maintenance provides a continued development of the writing as participants struggle through the more complex nature, both artistic and emotional, of longer projects. Thus, through this exploration, we'll be able to identify and resolve more specific issues in the writing, more fundamental issues in the writer, and an increased awareness of and dedication to the multiple struggles and explorations the workshop group provides and for which it offers both perspective and support. We'll maintain a similar structure as the TW workshops, meaning that every meeting, the group will read and comment on manuscripts submitted by other members of the group, and the instructor will continue to work with the writer between meetings.
This group is designed for experienced writers and/or past participants of the workshops interested in a sustained writing and/or art project, including novels, memoirs, collections of poetry or short stories, plays, graphic fiction, application manuscripts, performance pieces, etc.,.
The writing group meets in monthly, three hour sessions at various sites.
Group size is 4-8 participants.
Cost for participation in the writing group is $99.00, which includes 12 hours of workshops and continuous, written commentary and feedback from the instructor.
On the Calendar:
August 24, 2P-5P
September 28, 10A-1P
November 2, 10A-1P
*Workshop packets will be sent via email approximately one week prior to our meeting.
**All meetings will be held at participants' homes in the greater Pittsburgh area. Registrants will receive this information privately.
"Singularis" is Latin for "alone, unique, extraordinary, individual," which more than anything probably defines the particular, peculiar points of view with which writers seem to identify, in both themselves and in the life that spreads before them. Often the nature of our work is such that we need feedback in an intimiate, focussed, particular way, in order to devleop those points of view, and so here I offer a structure for clear, defined exchanges between participant and instructor, focussed on the development of one or several pieces at once. This work may come out of the Tranformative Writing workshop or from the writer's own inspired directions and interests. It can be done with the support of the Continuum workshop or entirely between us. My goal is to give writers a depth of response and insight that larger workshop groups might not get to, and to tailor a much more specific, supported, and sustained framework for the writer's approach to his or her work. This can be done at the writer's pace, for as long as the writer desires.
The structure for the work revolves around "exchanges." The writer submits on a consistent basis to be determined by us (every week, every other week, once a month, or so on), the piece or pieces he or she wants to focus on. I will respond with feedback, reflections, and suggestions to help the writer address his or her specific issues both in the work and in the process (I spend about one to two hours reading and commenting on each submission). During this time, we will also have more informal consultations, by phone or in person, so as to cover ground that needs to come out in a more intimate, informal way.
This program is appropriate for writers of any level of experience, seeking help establishing and maintaining a specific focus and momentum for one or more pieces.
Cost of these exchanges (based on an hourly rate of $10-20) are as follows and include as many consultations as needed:
4 for $79
6 for $109
8 for $129
10 for $149
Sometimes the nature of the work or the writer demands a more customized forum--especially for those writers struggling with difficult or specialized material, key skill deficiencies, and/or blocks in their process--which I'm more than willing and available to help with. These programs are adjustable and customized and can be conducted online or in person, but all include a running, focused dedication to the process for the duration of the writer's need. I have experience in the following specialty areas:
Instruction in Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Drama
Writing for Therapy*
Personnel Management and Conflict Resolution in the Workplace
English Composition - High School and College
Grammar and Usage Skills Development
General Proofreading and Editing
*I'm currently pursuing an MS in Professional Counseling at Carlow University and have had experience working with writers struggling with addiction, adjustment crises, and trauma.
Cost is negotiable and dependent on the task and duration of the commitment. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.