Jumpstart: Writer to Writer

A Note on THE JUMPSTART: WRITER TO WRITER — The Six-Week Writing Program

For me, teaching writing isn’t about teaching writing. It’s about figuring out ways to get writers to draw on their vast, lush, unique memories; to develop their ears; to use their hyper-visual minds; to subvert expectations; to stop operating from their heads and instead from their bodies, their senses, their subconscious; to trust language; to learn to see, which first requires some un-seeing; to read as a writer; and to start living doubly – as themselves and as their writer selves in a constant state of collection, going through their days as hoarders of observation, story, character, detail, gesture, and back to memory…

Most of all, I want writers to stop trying to write well on purpose; I want writers to stop trying in general. Instead, I want them to write well by accident. Instead of setting the bar impossibly high, I want to lower the stakes, create opportunities for writers to access their subconscious and to be vulnerable on the page. Then, later, I want them to recognize their most compelling and urgent writing – the stuff that vibrates, that has psychological resonance – and move into it.

To meet those goals, I’ve created exercises to get at these essentials.

At the start of each of the six weeks, you will receive a set of exercises for six days. Each week will operate around a specific element.

Halfway into each week, you’ll get something from me on process, on motivation – something to keep you going.

On the seventh day of each week, I’ll send a set of questions to help boost accountability and to help you reflect with an eye toward digging deeper and revising.

The point of the exercises is not to create a highly polished work. It’s to generate a lot of material that, hopefully, you can use to create work that will become significant. The hope is that many of the seemingly disparate elements you create will actually be used within the same larger work, which will give it a more textured sense of realism, even if (or perhaps especially if) you are creating an otherworldly world.

Most of the exercises are not genre-specific. For those that are, however, I will give fiction and nonfiction options, a poetry option, and a screenwriting option.

At the start of each week, you should set goals. If you miss those mile markers, don’t give up. Just recommit. Set new goals.

I’m glad you showed up.

Keep showing up.

Julianna Baggott

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