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EGL 19 WB — The Creative Habit: Cultivating a Daily Writing Practice

Quarter: Spring
Date(s): May 2—Jun 3
Duration: 5 weeks
Drop By
Drop Deadline: May 5
Unit(s): 1 Units
Tuition: $155
Format: Online course (System Requirements)
Limit: Limit 75
Status: Open
Creativity comes naturally to us from childhood, but “real life” often gets in the way, with its critical voices and practical concerns squashing the impulse to put our ideas on paper and make art. Even if you can barely remember the last time you wrote anything beyond an email or grocery list, the seeds of creativity are still deep inside you, and need only a little coaxing to flourish again. This course is based on the notion that it takes twenty-one days to form a habit, and the fact that writing just a little every day will take away the anxiety of the blank page and make you more observant, more in touch with your creativity, and as a result, happier and more fulfilled.

Every morning, for four weeks (the first twenty weekdays of this course), you will receive a prompt, from which you should free write for thirty to sixty minutes (or whatever you can spare). Weekends will be off. The daily prompts will encourage you to try the three major genres of writing: creative nonfiction (writing from what you know), fiction (turning what you know into stories, or making things up) and simple poetic forms, exploring the boundaries of language. You are always welcome to approach a prompt from a different genre or angle. In the fifth and final week of this course, you will continue receiving prompts each weekday, or you may choose to revise one of your earlier pieces. This course is for those who want to write without inhibition and have fun without an evaluative component. You will be allowed to choose one piece each week for instructor feedback, if you wish, and you can work in a small group or opt not to. We will seek to forge a sense of community and to find the quality of heightened awareness that comes from using creative writing as a way of being more present in the world.

This is an online course. Because of the high-enrollment capacity, students will not receive instructor feedback on daily writing posts. Instead, students will receive light instructor feedback on one piece per week. Alternatively, students may choose to submit fewer, longer pieces for feedback: up to 2,000 words total over the five weeks of the course.

Please note: Section WA and Section WB of “The Creative Habit: Cultivating a Daily Writing Practice” have the same objective to foster a daily practice but use different daily prompts. Students can register for section WA or WB, or take both.

This course may not be taken for a Letter Grade. For more information about the Online Writing Program, visit our FAQs.

Malena Watrous, Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford; Online Writing Lead Instructor, Stanford Continuing Studies

Malena Watrous is the author of the novel If You Follow Me, which received a Michener-Copernicus award. She frequently reviews books for such publications as The New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. She received an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow. She has taught writing at the University of Iowa, Stanford, and the University of San Francisco.