How We Run Our Workshops (Hint: Nothing to Fear Here)

We've left workshops confused, frustrated, and stunted, too.


Workshops can be a wonderful place for writers to share and get feedback on their work. 

Whistle Tree believes in writing wild, taking chances on the page, and that creative thinking makes better creative writing. But we think the traditional workshop feedback structure can sometimes stifle real creativity. Let’s face it, writing is emotional work that requires emotional exposure. Sharing your work is risky. When you fear being eating by a pack of workshop dogs, you start bringing in work that feels safe and, in some way, ends up appeasing the personalities in the workshop. You stop making your best work, even if you don't know it.

Workshopping doesn't always change your work for the better.  And we want to help you develop your best work. And that means unlocking creative thought processes, mastering the fundamentals, and taking risks. Yes, We support risk-taking! But only on the page…not in your car!

We want the writing process to feel a little dangerous. We want you to wonder what’s going to happen when you sit down at your desk. We want you to sometimes feel like you are about to careen off the page, maybe even careen out of your mind a little in order to level up within your work. We want to unlock your best creative thinking.

We do this by offering a healthy, exploratory writing relationships with your instructors, with cohorts in your group, and with yourself. We believe in a writing climate that is generative, not coercive, and observational, not judgmental. Because of this, Whistle Tree’s collaborative time is supportive and pleasant and full of questions. Questions and observations lead to deeper thinking and deeper thinking leads to better writing.

Our space is happy and proactive and safe.

If you think this sounds like "everybody gets a trophy" it's not. It's still rigorous. We are big on fundamentals, structure, and technique, but we also specialize in unlocking that creative floodgate that can be so hard to access. We want to support you when the real writing gets done…when you are alone at your desk facing an empty page, a half-finished essay, or a 300-page revision.

In a nutshell, we value writing relationships, look for possibilities in mistakes, question everything, and always strive for a bit of the wild.

There's nothing to fear here. We a happy creative writing community that wants everyone to develop and sustain a healthy writing practice. 

We want you to write it. We want you to write it wild. We want you to write it with us. All writers are welcome.


Email us with questions and whatnot at [email protected] or fill out this form. We'd love to hear from you 


Please, no talk of recombinant DNA or relative velocity. All other questions welcome.

About Instructor Dawn Davies

Dawn Davies, founder of Whistle Tree writers, has been a professional writer since 2004. She has an MFA in Creative Writing and has taught writing since 2012, and creative writing and literature since 2015. 

Her memoir, Mothers of Sparta (Flatiron Books, 2018) won the Florida Book Award Gold Medal for Best Nonfiction, and the GLCA Book Award for Nonfiction, Best Book of the Year from BookBrowse, and was an Indies Introduces and Indies Next List book. She was also featured twice on the national television show, Megyn Kelly Today.

She also has 50 other publications in literary journals, including McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, The Alaska Quarterly, Fourth Genre, The Missouri Review, Narrative, and elsewhere.

She has been the fiction editor of a national literary journal and currently teaches creative writing at workshops and writers' conferences.