Come study the art of writing in intensive, fun, hands-on workshops with dynamic faculty from the Creative Writing program, the Stanford Storytelling Project, and other arts programs at Stanford. Each week focuses on a specific craft element or process, with opportunity to experiment and practice. You’ll leave with an expanded understanding of what your writing can do. Designed for students but open to the whole Stanford community, the workshops are held most Mondays from 6:00-7:30pm when classes are in session at Stanford. See each quarter’s schedule for details.
FALL SCHEDULE, TO BEGIN OCT 4, 2021, WILL BE POSTED SEPT 28.
SESSIONS WILL BE HELD AGAIN IN PERSON AT THE HUME CENTER.
Monday, April 12
|Sometimes, stories come in flashes: we see one character, or one concept, or one line of dialogue. We might have the seed of an idea but get stuck wondering – now what? How can I turn this flicker of inspiration into a full-fledged story? Join us for a night of ideation and exploration as we practice taking that critical next step. Together, we’ll spend the first half of this workshop mining for story ideas and grow our bank of potential projects. Then, we’ll dive deeper and learn strategies to flesh out the world behind that seed of a thought. You’ll walk away with new tools for whenever you face the question: what comes next?||Megan Calfas is a playwright, journalist, and podcast producer. She’s also a mentor with the Stanford Storytelling Project – sign up to work with her here. Outside of Stanford, she teaches live, personal storytelling with StoryCraft and is in the process of co-creating an original musical. Previously, she’s reported on the environment for the Los Angeles Times, investigated maternal mortality in Zanzibar, and once convinced Stanford University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne to perform in a musical alongside personified, dancing peanuts.|
|The Micro Story
Monday, April 19
|The really short form—prose of 1-3 pages—has been around for more than a century, but has gained new popularity since the 1990s, when all kinds of new names were invented for it—flash fiction, micro fiction, short memoir, etc. The very short piece uses all of the art of longer prose forms, but it is also a form unto itself, with its own special constraints and opportunities. We will take a quick but deep dive into both process and craft, giving you an opportunity to practice the kinds of attention and writing that produce powerful short pieces. We will focus equally on fiction and non-fiction, with emphasis on how to use skills common to both, to create a vivid lightning strikes of truth and beauty (why not?).||Jonah Willihnganz is the Director of the Stanford Storytelling Project and Co-Director of the LifeWorks Progam for Integrative Learning in the School of Medicine. He has published fiction, essays, and literary criticism and has taught writing and literature at Stanford since 2002. This spring he is teaching, with Shannon Pufahl, Fight the Future, a course on speculative film and fiction, and he cannot wait for a lot of Octavia Butler’s work to finally be coming to the screen over the next year.|
|My FLI-Called Life: FLI Creative Writing
Monday, April 26
|“Greatness is all the more admirable if it’s achieved against the odds,” writes R.S. Pine-Coffin, reflecting on St. Augustine’s autobiography, Confessions. We won’t have enough time to write our own full-blown FLI autobiographies in this workshop, but we will have the time to discuss our cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds in order to create “moment maps” of prose that illustrate key points in our lives. We’ll write and share where we’ve been, how far we’ve come, and where we’re headed so that we can carry these maps with us into any future creative project — whether it’s fiction, nonfiction, poetry, screenplays, etc. We’ll never feel lost again.||Jenn Alandy Trahan was a first-generation college student herself at the University of California, Irvine, in the early-mid aughts and then went on to earn her MA in English and MFA in Fiction at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow, she’s currently a Jones Lecturer teaching English 9CE: Creative Expression all year (her favorite undergraduate course to teach). Also, in a recent virtual event hosted by the McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society, Alec MacGillis discussed his new book Fulfillment; Jenn took messy notes in her journal as MacGillis talked about the “toxicity of hyper-prosperity” in certain areas of the country (ahem, this one), something that we can also discuss in this FLI workshop.|
|Melody as Muse: Writing About Music in Fiction
Monday, May 3
|Musical artists such as Frank Zappa and Laurie Andersen have famously stated, “writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” These are compelling words, their force relying in part on the irony of the formulation—in effect, the quote does that which it claims isimpossible to do, explicating in words the difficulties of translating musical experience into prose while at the same time using words to communicate some of the elusive affective power of music. When writers attempt to describe a distinctive mood, or emotion they must be quite creative in order to truly get the audience to feel it. Examining how people have written about music can help us write about the ineffable in any kind of story you would like to produce; plays, poems, short stories, novels. In this workshop, through a series of listening and writing exercises we practice rendering the ineffable into compelling prose.||Tiffany Naiman is a scholar of popular music, temporality, and gender. She is the Managing Editor of State of the Human, the podcast of the Stanford Storytelling Project, and lecturer at Stanford University where she teaches classes on David Bowie, podcasting, music documentaries, concept albums, and sound stories. Along with her musicological research and teaching, Tiffany is a DJ, electronic music composer, and award-winning documentary film producer.|
|Exploring Our Place Inside of Nature Through Metaphor
Monday, May 10
|One of the things telling a story can do is help us investigate an experience we’ve had—especially if we use figurative language. In this workshop we’ll focus on our experience of the natural world and discover what emerges when we describe it from a position beyond human supremacy. We will develop metaphors based on the biogeochemical cycles of the earth, the behavior of other animals, plants, and fungi. We’ll explore how these metaphors lead us to see greater detail and meaning in our patterns, including how you can use story creation to “compost” narratives from your own life.
||Christy Hartman is a storyteller with nearly a decade of experience working in higher education. In addition to being a longtime Senior Producer for the Storytelling project, she is currently the Program Coordinator for Stanford’s Medicine and the Muse program, in the School of Medicine. Skilled in mentoring, narrativizing research, and podcast production, she is interested in amplifying the wisdom of lived experience. She holds graduate certificate in writing from the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies and prefers the forest.|
|Identity Writing: Excavating Your Narrative
Monday, May 17
|You are the expert on your own life, but what is your story? Often, it’s more than just yours alone. It can be a part of a collective: your generation, your team, your tribe. In this class, we’ll examine remarkable voices that speak for both the singular and the collective with true authority and dive into narratives that pack emotional heat. Along the way we’ll examine our own anthems, memories, and histories through exploratory writing prompts. We’ll deconstruct point of view through exercises meant to catapult moving, energetic writing into a powerful and personal essay. Don’t think you have a story to tell? Come anyway and surprise yourself.||Rose Whitmore’s writing has recently appeared in The Southern Review, Image, The Kenyon Review and Alaska Quarterly Review. She is currently a Jones Lecturer at Stanford where she is working on a novel about Olympic Weightlifting during Enver Hoxha’s communist regime in post-World War II Albania.|