One of the hardest — and hardest to teach — challenges for the creative writer, especially in a time of multiple other obligations and distractions, is simply to find and commit the time to focused, productive work. Classroom deadlines can be helpful, but strangely, during breaks from school one’s increased free time doesn’t always translate into more writing. This class is thus designed to help writers to produce new work, with collective feedback and support, not just to privilege productivity for its own sake but to push ourselves and our writing in new directions. We’ll thus organize our work around regular workshops as well as experiments designed to produce new perspectives on what we do and how we write. There will also be regular readings, some of which tailored individually to your specific projects and interests, as we reaffirm the relationship between critical reading, shared reflection on process, and our own writing practices, regardless of genre or form.
Whether you are working on your thesis, beginning a new work, writing poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or young adult fiction, we’ll design a game plan for the course, with the goal of producing at least 50 pages of new writing in our time together. This will be a challenging, writing-intense workshop, but also structured to provide mutual support, feedback, and encouragement in each of our unique practices, so that writing can be the rewarding, enjoyable, and focused work we all want it to be!
Additionally, the instructor pledges to do all of the assignments with you, including the minimum pages of writing. After all, we’re in this together as writers, and we all can learn from each other’s struggles and breakthroughs!
The primary work for the course will include:
1. Goals and game plans. We all have different approaches to writing and productivity, from the self-disciplined daily writer to the once-in-a-blue-moon burst of inspiration-ist. Whether it’s an outline, a weekly schedule, a map, deadlines, reward/punishment schemes, collaboration, anxiety, caffeine or other drugs, we all have methods and tricks to get the words flowing. So, to begin our work together, we’ll discuss our goals and working habits and challenge ourselves to try new methods this summer as we commit to being focused and productive creators.
2. Weekly writing assignments: one brief writing assignment (either a reading response or a specific writing experiment) as well as a packet of your own work in progress, as laid out in your timeline.By the end of the course, we will all have produced at least 50 pages of new work (more if you wish to set your goal higher).
3. Group workshops on each other’s work in progress, designed not only to give feedback but also to discuss and support each other’s process. Some of these will be smaller peer-editing sessions, depending on genre and interests. Each student will have their writing workshopped at least once every two weeks .
4. In-class writing sessions, either on our own work or as part of collectively-designed experiments. These could include library or computer lab sessions, field trips (to try out various writing environments), collaboration, reading each other’s work aloud, etc.
5. One-on-one conferences with the instructor, tailored to your own needs, focused on the progress of your work, specific issues around process and method, and to create a reading/research plan to help facilitate your work.
6. A final portfolio of at least 50 pages, including a reflection on your goals, game plan, process, and assessment of the writing you produced. “