The Writer’s Way Workshop Syllabus
Presented by Karin Falcone
Part One: The Ground
People say to me, “I want to write a book. Can you help me?” I always give this one assignment. Write three pages, every morning, and throw them away. This is from Julia Cameron’s book “The Artist’s Way”. It is so simple, yet very challenging. Try it and see. When the inspiration comes, you will be in good form.
Exercise: Write three pages, freewriting. Mine it for ideas and key words. Pass it to the next person. They will then create a piece based on your themes, words, ideas.
Home work: Do the morning pages every morning for a week.
Part Two: Inspiration
Maybe you hit a stale place, an unforgiving place. Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones” can bring you back into communion with yourself and your work with gentleness and discipline. These exercises bring clarity to the process of inspiration. The book is a classic for creative writers.
Exercises from Writing Down the Bones. Sharing.
Part Three: The Buddha and the Beats
Allen Ginsberg wrote and spoke extensively of his and the other Beats’ Buddhist path. He was also a scholar of wide ranging interests. His “Mind Writing Slogans” are a great syllabus for study and address conceptual elements of creation.
Lecture, reading, Q&A pick a dharma to work with this week.
Part Four: The Collective Consciousness
Bernadette Mayer wrote something to the effect of “One thing people generally do not wish to share is their anonymity.” Our ego wants to own our words, so to free ourselves from that is powerful. William Burroughs was working with cut ups and the Surrealists with collective games like Exquisite Corpse, which invite random elements into the act of creation, and bring “Painterly” qualities to writing. Both are not only radical experiments but also a lot of fun to do.
Carl Jung discusses the “collective unconscious” as a shared conception of experience, and I see these collective exercises as a way to explore that, help us feel more human and true to experience.
Part Five: “I need someone to address in order to begin…”
Again a quote from Bernadette Mayer from the seminal book “Disembodied Poetics”. A recent trip to New Orleans Found me at a book party at the Fairgrounds. The book, stories from the backside is a collection of letters written by people who work behind the scenes at this historic horseracing track, from jockeys to vets. Each letter is addressed to a close loved one, and discusses in great detail a specific day of work, creating a great whole picture of the place. The publishers also created the Neighborhood Stories Project. They can be reached at…
Exercise: Address someone to begin. See what happens. Share.
Part Six: Form and Function
My most inspiring moments at Jack Keroac School undoubtably happened in Bobbie Louise Hawkins fiction writing classes at “the Bijou” a room off of her house with a stage to read aloud upon. Her book “My Own Alphabet” is amazing, playful and unstuck as it gets. Create your own: mine was: Eco Erotica: stories, quotes, poems by Karin Falcone. Read No Submerged Purpose.
Collective project: Our own Alphabet. See Tree Bernstein’s box set alphabet poems.
Try a sonnet: I will fit chaos in 14 lines Edna St Vincent Millay, Bernadette Mayer
Field Trip: write haiku and senryu : 3 line nature poems outside.