AS.220.180 – Freewriting Across Genres – Intercession 2009

The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University

Office Location & Hours


Instructor: Ryan Edel

E-mail: Contact via 12Writing

Phone: TBA in class

Office Hours: Outside Café Q, Eisenhower Library, Time: Tuesday 1:00-3:00pm and By Appointment


Philosophy and Purpose

Unlike most writing courses, our focus will be pushing beyond the traditional themes to develop our personal voices.  We will not edit most of our work, and I will not apply a letter grade to your written work.  All comments in class will be positive – our goal is to reinforce the desire to write.  Our goal is to overcome the self-criticism generated by social and cultural expectation by writing often and writing quickly.  The ultimate aim is to foster good creative writing habits that will help you continue writing long after the course.


The Class Experience

Our class involves a lot of writing and a lot of workshopping.  Throughout this course, each participant will be expected to treat other students and their work with respect.  Positive and negative feedback are essential for writers to improve – it is expected that all responses to written work will be constructive and limited to the works submitted.  In this course, we will focus on positive reinforcement for all written work.



Creative writing, by its very nature, is a subjective art.  Given the nature of freewriting, grading will be based entirely on attendance and effort.  As writers, participants will only be required to share those stories that they feel comfortable sharing – personal privacy will be honored for all individuals throughout this course.  A sheet of paper stapled in half may be displayed for credit for any assignment.  I will provide feedback for all assignments submitted.  I strongly encourage each participant to take full advantage of this academic and artistic freedom by writing as much as possible.


I highly recommend writing as much as possible for the duration of this course.  Feel free to submit extra assignments completed outside the course – when feasible, I will provide feedback on additional creative work.



Daily, on-time attendance is essential for the workshop process.  It is the responsibility of the student to notify the instructor and provide evidence (e.g. doctor’s note) of unavoidable absence due to illness, family emergency, religious holiday, or other extenuating circumstance.  Two or more unexcused absences will result in a failing grade.  Four or more late arrivals will result in the same.  In the event of an accidental unexcused absence, please contact me immediately.  I may assign extensive make-up work to prevent a grade penalty.



Creative work is by definition original.  All works submitted for class are to be the sole creation of the student.  Themes and literary devices from other writers will likely influence your work, and open discussion of works-in-progress is encouraged.  However, all written work must be the sole product of the individual student.  Presenting the work of another as your own is plagiarism.  All instances of plagiarism will be referred to the Writing Seminars Department and the JHU Ethics Board.  Plagiarism will result in grade reduction, possible failure of the course, and possible additional sanctions (see also


Personal Conduct

Creative work requires a safe atmosphere for all participants.  All students will be treated equally and fairly.  Behavior which causes discomfort such as sexual harassment, the threat or act of violence, or other behavior counter to a productive professional environment will not be permitted.



Students must bring the appropriate text each day for discussion:

Writers on Writing: Collected Essays from The New York Times.  Introduction by John Darnton.  New York: Times Books, 2001.

Pat Schneider.  Writing Alone and with Others.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.


Reading Schedule



Writing Alone and With Others

Writers on Writing



(Recommended Reading)

(Required Reading)







Introduction to Amherst Method








Working in a Writing Workshop

Wolitzer (263)



Healthy Workshop (185-195)

Vonnegut (241)



What about Grades? (211-21)

Smiley (217)







Why We Write

Hoffman (95)



Writing Practice: The Journal (63-75)

Bellow (17)




Doctorow (49)







Dreams and Meditation - Memoir

Walker (246)



The Power of Sleep (54-58)

Robinson (191)




Fleming (60)







Writing Habits

Darnton (Introduction, xi)



Disciplined Writing Life (40-62)

Saroyan (204)




Ford (65)







Setting and Details - Memoir

Banks (8)



Developing Craft (76-92)

Miller (156)




Godwin (71)







Developing Voice - All Genres

Delbanco (43)



Voice (93-105)

Erdrich (54)




Chute (35)







Characterization - Fiction

Brown (28)



Fiction (138-152)

Bass (13)




Bernays (23)







Poetry and Other Forms

Leavitt (141)



Poems (118-137)

Mosley (161)



Other Forms (152-156)

Paretsky (172)