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

Quarter: Spring
Course Format: Online (System Requirements)
Duration: 5 weeks
Date(s): May 7—Jun 8
Drop Deadline: May 10
Unit: 1
Tuition: $330
Instructor(s): Malena Watrous
Limit: 125
Status: Open
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is 5/10 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is 5/15 at 5:00 pm (PT). 
May 7—Jun 8
5 weeks
Drop By
May 10
1 Unit
Malena Watrous
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is 5/10 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is 5/15 at 5:00 pm (PT). 
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 weekday, 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 will always be welcome to approach a prompt from a different genre or angle. In the fifth and final week of this course, you may choose to revise one of your earlier pieces or continue receiving prompts each weekday. 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.

Because of the high-enrollment capacity, students will not receive instructor feedback on daily writing posts. Instead, students may 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 may register for Section WA or WB, or for both.

Grade restriction: No letter grade

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 Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.