This semester I am enrolled in a short fiction creative writing course at Haverford College, Bryn Mawr being part of a Bi-Consortium with the College. There are 15 students in the class that were selected via writing sample submission and we all sit around a large table with the professor at the head. My class in particular is in the English “cottage” which I adore, same as I do English House at Bryn Mawr. I have only taken lecture-style courses thus far, so this style of class was intimidating at first; however, as the weeks have gone by, I have noticed how transforming this class could truly be for those with a passion for creativity.
- Writing Workshop
The class focuses on short-story fiction writing and each student writes a story to be workshopped in our two-and-half hour meeting every Friday. Students are expected to read over and critique their peer’s work prior to class. During the writing workshop, students are obligated to participate: that is, share what they liked about the story, pose questions, and give suggestions for revision. But, students can talk for as long as they want – the professor does not limit contributions for time sake. It feels natural. Students also want to help you, which is sometimes hard to find in a competitive liberal arts environment. Students are allowed to write a short story about whatever they wish, so it has been fascinating to see how everyone’s separate interests influence the class dynamic. It is also refreshing simply sitting with a pen or pencil and a printed story in front of you without your laptop open. I find myself whole-heartedly connected in the class for the full period. It is one of my only classes where I am able to fully disconnect from thoughts of what I have to do after class.
- Published Readings
As supplemental to the short stories we write and exercises we have when it is not our week to write a longer story for a workshop, our professor assigns us short stories written by published writers. We are supposed to spot techniques that fiction writer’s use – one, to learn from and, two, to incorporate in our own writing. I find that this reading is a nice pause from the scholarly reading required for other humanities courses. I, once again, find myself disconnecting from other school obligations as I get lost in the stories. It is essentially like being able to leisurely read but for class!
- Activity “Silence” & Exercises
I participated in a “silence” activity where I had to eliminate one activity from my daily routine that eats up my time. For example, instead of checking your phone during writing, take a walk. I was surprised that the course entailed activities not directly related to writing, but I honestly, really appreciate it as a busy college student. I learned that I don’t need to be connected 24/7. I notice that I speak quite a bit about disconnecting, but this is because it is so hard for college students to learn how to do this. Part of why I like writing, and writing creatively in this class, is that you cannot focus on anything else when doing it, which for me, is quite a beautiful thing.