• Dance of The Letters

Dance of the Letters Writing Circles

A Dance of the Letters Writing Circle
is a vibrant gathering in which inspiration, creativity
and rich writing are catalyzed.

Dance of the Letters Writing Circles are welcoming spaces in which to find and free not only one’s voice, but also one’s heart. These energetic and contemplative gatherings are rendezvous with the soul, the source of boundless creativity.

Each of the following writing gatherings is an opportunity for those present to discover and free what lies within—using writing to give voice to the soul.

Deeply welcoming and profoundly inspiring, a Dance of the Letters writing group encourages and supports participants to mine their inner treasures. In each session, Ani offers writing sparks that kindle the creative fire. Participants can use or ignore these sparks; permission and play are at the heart of writing freely. There is no way to do this wrong.

SPARK YOUR CREATIVE FIRE!

Get a spark a day delivered to your inbox for 30 days! Free & such rich fun!

About Dance of the Letters Writing Circles

New: Dance of the Letters Writing Circles will now be offered at venues throughout the U.S. and abroad!

For the past thirty years, the Dance of the Letters Writing Center has been based in Western Massachusetts where ongoing local groups and individual mentoring are still being offered.  Now, Dance of the Letters will also be going on the road.

All Dance of the Letters Writing Circles:

  • welcome participants with any measure of writing experience
  • embrace all forms of writing and invite experimentation and play
  • can focus on particular life passages or topics
  • comprise anywhere from a handful to a large roomful of people
  • can be one-time happenings and/or ongoing groups
  • vary in length from ninety minutes to full day retreats
  • are priced based on length of session and if a one-time or ongoing group
  • may be offered online in 2017

“Ani creates a welcoming and safe container for every voice in the room. As someone for whom expressing herself is challenging, there is something that happens in that warm hold that invites the cautious voice and hiding words to dare to speak.”
-Nan Carey

“Exhilarating, mysterious and miraculous. My soul is fed EVERY TIME!”
-Jean Fillion

A Very Special Opportunity:

Bring Ani to your venue when she is on her book tour.

During 2017 and 2018, Ani will be traveling in the US and abroad on a book tour with her new novel, The Tremble of Love: A Novel of the Baal Shem Tov—a wonderful opportunity to host a Dance of the Letters Writing Circle for your community.  See where Ani will be traveling. (You’ll find a link on that page to a form to invite Ani to your venue, which also includes costs.)

WRITING CIRCLES: OPEN-ENDED & SPECIAL FOCUS

Find and free your voice. All forms of writing are welcome.

HOME

For Women of All Ages

After years of loving, learning, losing, and finding, women are treasure troves.

Creating a home. Leaving a home. Being home in oneself. Empty Nest. Our home, the earth. Being called home. In the shared energy of these gatherings, women can write in relation to whatever is stirring within and in whatever form seems to hold these experiences best, whether stories, poems, rants, essays, prayers, or letters. Discovering what is seeking voice and experimenting with different forms is a welcome part of the creative play.

Read “Peonies and Your Creativity”

HARVESTING: For Women over 60

Creative self-expression holds a key to living with vitality, purpose, and joy in full bloom. Members of a HARVESTING Writing Circle gather together to explore and share the harvest of their lives. These writing circles welcome women new to writing, those who may have been journaling or writing regularly through other avenues for decades, and those who loved writing when younger, but left it behind. All are drawn to discovering what’s inside to express and fulfill—a desire that ripens with age.

All forms of writing welcome, including fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction—and what Ani’s teenage writers have dubbed “rants”: writing into any topic at all, in any style, without constraint.

See “Is this You?” and “What to Expect”

Local monthly Harvesting Writing Circle starts January, 2016.  Full.

A second local (Western MA) monthly Harvesting Writing Circle may start in February/March 2017.   Day of the week to be determined by the group.  Contact Ani to let her know that you are interested.

THE JOY OF WRITING

For Women and Men

Give yourself the gift of you.

Participants are invited to relax into their own creative flow. What seeks expression is given time and space to emerge and be received. Delight. Depth. Discovery. Vulnerability. Presence. Healing. Wonder. Gratitude. These are just some of the gifts of a deep dive into finding and freeing the voice of one’s heart.

Read “Write* When There’s So Much Else That Needs Doing?!

THE SECRET POWER (AND JOYS) OF WOMEN JOURNALING

For Women of All Ages

In this session, Ani leads participants into new dimensions and depths of journal-writing. A workshop for those new to journaling or for veterans, the only prerequisite—a desire to listen deeply to yourself.

“Journaling is not just sitting with pen and paper. It’s a meeting, a rendezvous with a beloved companion. It is an act of loving respect for myself. Journaling is self-inquiry. Meditation. Prayer. It’s showing up to listen to me, to find out why the urge to cry, why the butterflies. It’s deep asking and deep listening …”

Download “So What Is the Power of Journaling”

Read Ani’s post: “Journal as Intimate Companion”

A PARENT’S HEART

For Parents of Differently Abled Individuals

Your Heart is a Treasure Chest. Open it. A Parent’s Heart offers parents of differently abled individuals the chance to connect heart to heart through tuning into and sharing our stories. Allowing oneself to write freely without censorship can lead to discovering new gifts in our unforeseen and amazing journeys. Tears and laughter abound.

Download WRITING, A Key to the Heart’s Treasure (an inspirational eBook for parents)

HARVESTING YOUR LIFE: Starting Your Memoir

For Women and Men

It’s much easier to start writing one’s life than one might imagine. A fire, after all, can start with just one spark. There will be many sparks in this writing rendezvous, along with knowledge about how to self-spark. Keeping the writing going doesn’t have to be hard, either. In fact, harvesting one’s life through writing is an invigorating, life-giving process. Whether wanting to write for oneself or to leave some form of written legacy, participants will leave this session having begun the magic of weaving their memoirs.

LOVE LETTERS: The Delights of Letter Writing

For Women and Men

An invitation and guide to discover the simple and life-changing practice of writing of love letters to self, family, friends, pets, to objects, places, to the past, the future—the possibilities are endless.

The research of a Japanese scientist named Masaru Emoto has revealed that our words have a profound impact on matter. After wrapping a bottle of water with a paper on which the words “Thank you” and “Fool” were written, Emoto photographed the water crystals formed in response. Water exposed to “Thank you” formed beautiful, symmetrical hexagonal crystals, while the crystals of the water exposed to “fool” were malformed and fragmented. Emoto reported that water exposed to the words “love and gratitude” formed the most beautiful and delicate crystals of all.

Since we human beings consist of 98 percent water, the implications of these findings are phenomenal. Words of love and gratitude have the power not only to uplift us, but also to transform … to create harmony, perhaps even to heal. Letter writing is a stunning way to speak love.

MOTHERLOVE AND MOTHERLOSS

For Women and Men

“I feel like I have been initiated into a club that I did not know existed.” ~My brother’s words when our mother died.

Losing one’s mother to death or to dementia is a portal into new territory. In this session, participants will be gently invited to enter the space of the heart and to unearth what’s there, and in the process, bring light to the shadows and more light to the luminous.

Read “When God Takes the Mother”

GIVING VOICE TO THE UNSPEAKABLE

This workshop is designed to support members in giving voice to that which may have seemed unspeakable.  Key is awareness of and connection with the inner, compassionate and non-judgmental listener.   This abiding inner witness is the safe space to which writing can be a gentle path. Whether it is early trauma, the trauma of those around us (who perhaps raised us), or the challenges that come with being a spiritual being having a human experience, this session invites entry into the sanctuary of the heart, where all is embraced and pain can dissolve in the fire of love.

Read “My Father’s Dream”

Read “My Father’s Many Lives”

“The power of coming together to “harvest” the wisdom of our hearts in the written word is life giving. Women together, speaking and listening, holding each other’s words in sacred space so as we might hear our own voices more clearly. Finally, a forum, a sanctuary, a place of inspiration to speak our truth. A wondrous creative and therapeutic process.”
-Peg Holcomb

“Being in a Dance of the Letters Writing Circle helps me feel more balanced, these moments of touching my soul for hours without interruption. It is abundant to be here.”
-Victoria Ahrensdorf

“Thank you so much for your many kindnesses, Ani. I, too, feel very blessed to have found you and this welcoming circle of amazing women. The writing I have done since we came together has been and continues to be very healing.”
– With gratitude and love, Barbara Cooper

“What brought me here was a deep loneliness for myself— a need to be with myself intimately with others—a wish to hear my own voice come into being in such a strong way that I could trust myself to stride out into the world, life, on the strength of it—finally fully present.”
– Meg Fisher

Writing Circles on Themes from
The Tremble of Love: A novel of The Baal Shem Tov

There are numerous themes in The Tremble of Love that can be “written into” as the focal point of a writing circle.

Here are just a few:

GOD?

God. Where? What? Who? Dare to write into unspoken, ineffable experiences and questions in unbounded exploration, revelation, and not knowing. Explore through words the going beyond words. What may start as a feeling of writing oneself off a cliff may transform into homecoming and awe. All held in the net of sincere query.

Read “Wanting God”

WRITING AS PRAYER

This writing rendezvous offers the opportunity to pull out the stops, leave propriety in the dust, and free the heart and mind to give voice outside the bounds of formal prayer. Space to be as intimate, questioning, grateful, disillusioned, mystified, passionate as the moment and one’s life situation summon. No limits. No rules.

Read “Writing As Prayer”

SILENCE AS NOURISHMENT
In this writing circle, Ani will lead participants into meditation before writing, so that writing may emerge more consciously from a place of stillness, silence, and witness. Resources will be shared about the practice of meditation, the sweet power of silence, and how these can fuel our writing and our lives.
THE PRACTICE OF SELF-COMPASSION
A central theme in The Tremble of Love: A Novel of the Baal Shem Tov is self-compassion—not to confused with self-pity. This session will offer sparks that can inspire a tender, forgiving, even amused encounter with one’s self in all its many faceted perfect imperfection. Members of this circle will leave with tools for the practice of self-compassion realized through writing.
DEEP LISTENING
In this writing circle, we will explore writing as a way to deepen our ability to listen. Writing at its best calls for deep listening to ourselves. It can be a path to deeper listening to others without judgment, to nature, and to the poignant longing for love, peace, and well-being, everywhere around us.

“I feel like I’ve been to a really good yoga class when the writing group with Ani ends. The experience is meditative, cleansing, cathartic and catalytic all at the same time. I emerge present-focused and grateful. And to boot, words have come out of me that I never expected and there they are on the page…”
-Marla Solomon

“Your guidance provides a rich spiritual experience. You put your heart and soul into everything you do and it brings out that kind of response in those who write with you.”
-Harriet Goodwin

WRITING CIRCLES FOR GIRLS & TEENS

To nurture the creative expression of young people is to bless the future.

GETTING COZY

For Girls 10-12

It is common in our society for girls between the ages of ten and twelve to begin to lose confidence and to doubt and devalue themselves. Writing in an environment of total acceptance, encouragement, validation, and playful experimentation—where one cannot do it “wrong” and where a girl’s creative brilliance and beauty is reflected back to her—is a powerful antidote and good medicine.

What previous young writers at Dance of the Letters have to say:

“You haven’t been writing?! Oh no! The poor characters waiting to be created … stories ready to be plucked out of the deep blue like flapping colored scarves … poems flying around ready to be captured … plays begging you to write them … random rants popping like popcorn inside your head … songs, letters, and fantasy, all waiting …

All they need is your pencil, blank paper, and a spark of imagination. Come to a writing group. You look like you need it! Let your words spill freely!!”

DANCE OF THE LETTERS

For Teen Girls, 13-17

A safe, validating, and uplifting space for girls to be fully themselves and to playfully explore their unique voices and creative genius.

11 Reasons to come to writing group (written by Dance of the Letters young writers):

1. 90% of people don’t get enough enjoyable writing in their daily diet.
2. The 10% who do get enough are healthier, more original, and 89.5% more likely to enjoy life.
3. Ani’s groups are a shelter for blank paper waiting to be adopted by words. Volunteer just a little of your time and fill as many sheets as you can.
4. If you have trouble relaxing, this is the place for you.
5. There are snacks.
6. Everyone who comes will be welcomed with open arms.
7. We like random.
8. What’s the good of knowing all those words if you don’t do anything with them?!
9. You can fill pages with meaningless nonsense. Meaningful nonsense is accepted as well.
10. Writers are possibly the most interesting people on the planet.
11. You are looking for an adventure, aren’t you?

Learn more about Dance of the Letters Writing Circles for Children and Teens.

“My daughter not only loves writing more than ever, she likes herself better! You have helped her discover and value her own voice—both as a writer and a person. These groups are much more than meets the eye!”
-Katie George, Artist and Art Educator

“Both of my daughters have thrived on Ani’s inspiration. She is an insightful, gifted teacher who knows how to guide girls into the deep interior place of their own writing. Ani has keen intuition…what she offers is full of wonder.”
-Lauren Rosenberg, Writer and English Professor

HARVESTING LOVE Blog:
Finding Love in Unexpected (& Expected) Places

Journal as Intimate Companion

Write* When there is so much else that needs doing?

This is SummerSeek the Nectar