A lot of different kinds of writing get called creative nonfiction, and I have no interest in predetermining the forms your writing for this course might take. But there does seem to me a limited number of topics—or at least kinds of topics—that nonfiction writers tend to return to. I’ve thus designed a series of exercises (Xs) whose main aim is to get you to try your hand at writing about a range of different subjects, including:
X1: A past event or experience
X2: A place or object
X3: A current event
X4: A text (review)
X5: A person (interview or profile)
X6: Writing itself
I’ll post more specific prompts for each of these X assignments as we come to them during the term. Xs should be thoughtfully crafted, but they are meant as drafts, beginnings. I’ll expect you to develop and revise at least two—and, most likely, three or four—Xs over the course of the semester. Think of them as the first drafts of pieces (Revs) that you might then go on to workshop with your writing group, and eventually to turn into one of your final projects. Your goal, then, in writing Xs should be to try out ideas and approaches, to see what works and what doesn’t.
On most weeks that X assignments are due, I will choose three or four pieces for us to talk about as a class. In doing so, I will always choose pieces that show strong potential. You should thus expect to have at least one or two of your Xs discussed in class sometime during the semester. I will also comment briefly in writing on your Xs—for the most part, offering an idea or two about how you might develop them. They will be graded on a check system.