Tag Archives: Teaching Creative Writing

Teaching Creative Writing: And the Irish weigh in. . .

Check out this post about a conference on teaching creative writing in Ireland.  Looks like they’re beginning to put the subject under the lens as well.

I mentioned I was working on a project I was keeping under wraps for the time being; looks like I’ll have more news on that front on Friday. Check back here late in the day or Saturday for the latest news.

Bye y’all,

SV

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Rethinking Creative Writing: The First Interview!

Wordamour is pleased to announce that today’s blog post is actually over at Erika Dreifus’ blog/newsletter/website Practicing Writing.

It’s fitting that Wordamour’s first  interview about the book would appear on this site, as she has admired Dreifus’ work and her site for years and has been admonishing her readers to make it part of their regular reading.  It’s a great resource.  And her book of stories, Quiet Americans, has been making all kinds of best lists.

Erika asked some wonderfully in-depth questions and Wordamour had a great time answering them.  It’s a terrific way to find out more about the book.

So what are you waiting for?  Get thee over to Practicing Writing  and check it out!

By y’all!

SV

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In Praise of Mistakes

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Because I’ve been deeply involved in reading Eric Maisel’s wonderful book, Fearless Creating, I’ve been thinking a lot about mistakes.  Failure.  Blowing it.

 In order to succeed as artists, and in order for our students to succeed, we must feel the freedom to take risks.  Taking risks often results in failure.  Just creating can be taking a risk, because it inevitably involves these mistakes. 

We must give our students and ourselves the freedom to fail.

Working writers already know this.  Witness Anne Lamott’s famous “Shitty First Drafts” chapter in Bird by Bird (if you haven’t read this book yet and you’re interested in writing, you simply must).  Eric Maisel writes that we must view creating as “a mistake making adventure.”  For this reason John Irving says half of his life is revision.  Philip Roth offers to hold up his own bad drafts beside anyone else’s just for sheer badness.

What does this mean in our test-driven, product-driven, results-driven society?  We simply must make room for teaching our students that mistakes, and failure are the only route to success.  The first step may well be freely sharing our own mistakes with them, sharing our own drafts, our own bad writing.  Not just the good stuff.

In my own introductory creative writing classes, I do this by not grading my student’s creative work.  Yes, I respond to it thoughtfully, carefully, and in writing, talking specifically about strengths and weaknesses.  But I don’t grade it.  Lots of other work in this class does receive a grade, peer reviews, book reviews, cover critiques, reflective work.  Just not the creative stuff.  My students love this.  It gives them the freedom to try new things.  It gives them the freedom to fail.

 How do you give your students the freedom to fail?

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A Visual History of Creative Writing or, Why I love my students

In my Teaching Creative Writing course, a senior seminar, we spend the first few weeks talking and reading about the history of higher education and the history of writing and creative writing with that landscape.  It’s a lot of history, a lot of names, dates and places to remember so before we move on, I have them get into groups to create a poster that provides a visual representation of that history.  I borrowed the idea from a grad school teacher of mine (thank you, Dr. Ann Dobie) and find that the mental leaps required to put something in visual form really helps cement that learning.

It is also great fun to see what they come up with. They are incredibly creative.  In years past, I’ve had creative writing history portrayed as the “evolution of man,” as the solar system, you name it.  I’m sharing with you some of my favorites from this year.  First, the Creative Writing History World Tour T-Shirt:
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Next, some of the text from the “comic book history of Creative Writing in Education.”

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I’d say they get it, wouldn’t you?

Coming soon, a look inside a grant review session and San Francisco sunsets.

Bye y’all.
SV

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