Our annual Writers Studio is an intensive, four-day experience that combines the work ethic and community building of a writing intensive with the knowledge growth of a ten-week course. This year, we’re thrilled to have several new instructors teaching the Studio for the first time. They sat down for a little chat with us about what makes the Writers Studio experience so special and how they plan to approach teaching in this unique format.
What excites you most about teaching for the Writers Studio?
Erin Entrada Kelly: Every time I teach or lecture in a new environment, I’m motivated by emerging voices and excited by the prospect of building a new writing community. Writing is a solitary act, which is why it’s so important to build communities outside of the writers’ bubble. Places like the Writers Studio make that possible.
Koji Steven Sakai: First of all, I love teaching people how to write. But more importantly, I especially love the intensity of doing it over four days. There’s no room for messing around, it’s just writing, talking about writing, and then more writing!
Roberto Marinas: I’m excited about the intensity of the schedule and getting to know everyone and their work over the course of four days.
Jeanne De Vita: I am really excited to teach in an intensive, immersive session. Normally, courses spread out over time compete with real life distractions–work, family, health, etc. Spending concentrated time together in the Studio promises a very different energy and dynamic. I’m excited for the students who will be able to set aside everything but their craft and really focus on practical skills and tools that will serve them long after the Studio ends–without the normal obligations they would expect to juggle. Plus, the opportunity for students to meet other students and really create a community during the Studio is truly once-in-a-lifetime for adult learners.
How do you plan to make the most of the time in this intensive workshop?
Erin: We will spend time discussing craft, engaging in lively discussion, and reading each others’ work. We will also discuss the practical realities of publishing.
Koji: Working on their own idea and turning it from a simple idea into an outline/beat sheet that you could actually begin your first screenplay!
Roberto: We’re going to write, of course! The workshop is designed for students to experience new creative concepts and techniques. We’re also going to hear our work read aloud. Listening to our scenes come alive gets us “out of our head” and allows us to adjust our voice and process as needed.
Jeanne: Work! One of the best aspects of the time we will have together will be really allowing students to practice what we’re learning and receive nearly immediate feedback on that work. The schedule is tight and the pace is brisk, but I’ve designed various modules so students stay engaged. I’ve also planned some self-study time and mental breaks–balance will be very important to making it through the entire program! There will be in-class assignments as well as homework, so we’ll keep busy but will make every minute count.
What makes this experience different from a standard ten-week class?
Erin: The primary difference is time, of course. But the amount of attention each student will receive is no different than a standard course.
Koji: Being in an intensive means everything moves quickly and it means that there is no time to mess around. We are going to work and work hard.
Roberto: I’d say it’s the pressure cooker environment of a four-day schedule. The compressed timetable forces us to hit the ground running, which always makes for exciting and unexpected discoveries.
Jeanne: The ten-week course is paced with the goal of gradual, cumulative learning. I really enjoy being able to present concepts that are new to students and then see how effectively they incorporate what we’re studying into their personal practice over time. With the Studio, we really dive into the deep end from the first minutes. I think that’s exciting because it’s such a complete experience. We’ll learn concepts the very first day that by the end of that day should feel very familiar. And since only one night will pass between sessions and not one week, I’m hoping that the development the student feels is even more exciting and obvious–simply because it will happen so much faster!
What do you hope your students get from your course?
Erin: I want students to leave with a comprehensive understanding of craft and the tools they need to create and revise their work. I also want them to have a greater understanding of publishing, which can be a complex, confusing, and daunting industry.
Koji: I think anyone can write IF they have the right tools, this class will give you those tools. Most people spend their lives thinking of great ideas but never acting on them. This class gives you a chance to do so.
Roberto: My goal is for students to have fun and understand that creative growth and transformation can occur in a very short period of time!
Jeanne: Story structure is one aspect of creative writing that is often overlooked. Whether the student is interested in memoir, horror, romance, or any other genre, understanding structure is something that is generally not taught in traditional writing programs or MFA programs. I learned everything I know about structure from working in publishing–so I hope students come away with practical tools and an understanding of how structure not only shapes the marketability of a work, but can actually help the writing itself come together more easily. I’m really excited to see how students shape works in progress or revised completed works once they have a better grasp of structure!
Many thanks to our instructors for taking time to chat with us.
The Writers Studio runs from February 27th-March 1st. There is still space available in every course, and you can use the EARLY discount code on these courses until January 27th.