Online | Fiction | Seminar

1-Day Prose Seminar: How to Beat the Writing Block & Start Writing

Every writer, no matter how seasoned, knows what it’s like to face the obstacle of writing that very first page. Fortunately, there are techniques to evade writer’s block and finally write that story.

Don’t know where to start? We’ve all been there, staring at the blank page or flipping through “how to write” guidebooks and unhelpful writing prompts (“Write a story about a blue object” or “Write a scene about the character being bored”) as panic sets in. And who hasn’t made a resolution to write a thousand words every day, only to fill this time with not entirely necessary research (aka doomscrolling on social media)?

It’s daunting if you’ve never written anything in your life, and sometimes it doesn’t get easier even if you’re an accomplished author. Meanwhile, busy lives with work, families, friends, pets, chores, and everything in between, make writing seem like a luxury that only a few privileged can afford.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Stories that we tell are not our enemies. They are friends that we’re yet to make, looking to be discovered, understood, and written. The key to breaking out of the funk and starting to write is in locating your idea and letting it guide you while staying realistic about your goals and capacity.

In this one-day class, we will get ourselves acquainted with our ideas and learn how to map their transformations into stories. We’ll use the ideas and trusted generative techniques to set forward a series of exercises that can be used to start writing. Then, we will explore the ways in which we can further sustain the creative process, produce a sizable output, and see the story written to its conclusion, with discipline, patience, and consideration for your particular writing needs and abilities.

You’ll leave this class with a set of exercises to overcome writer’s block and the tools to make any idea, no matter how vague, into a workable concept. We will also come up with ways to pry ideas out of our unconscious and get our creative juices flowing.

Participants should come to the class equipped with an idea for their writing. It can be a fully fleshed-out concept for a novel, memoir, short story, essay, or just a situation or a feeling that you’d like to develop. You must be willing to share it with the group, as we will be using everyone’s examples to propose techniques. All prose genres are welcome, and no prior experience writing is necessary: everyone is equal and united in the struggle against writer’s block.

If you’ve been waiting for a sign from the universe to start writing, this is it.

We will be concentrating on the following:

- Familiarity with what constitutes storytelling ideas and how they translate into stories.

- Using existing ideas to create writing exercises tailored towards personal projects.

- Using automatic writing exercises for ideas that remain vague or to come up with new ideas.

- Setting forward goals for writing projects and seeing them to conclusion.

- Dismantling the myths about writing practices and focusing on healthy, doable routines.

Our class platform works best on laptop or desktop computers. Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features. The Zoom calls will have automated transcription enabled. Please let us know ([email protected]) if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility. 

Check out this page for details about payment plans and discount opportunities.  

COURSE TAKEAWAYS:

- An effective strategy to overcome writing block and make ideas into stories

- A handy set of tools to pursue writing projects easily and maintain a steady creative flow

- A realistic approach to making writing a part of your life and thriving

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes

COURSE EXPECTATIONS:

Participants are expected to be prepared to share their ideas with the group, as hands-on examples will be most helpful. Participants must be willing to approach the ideas of fellow students respectfully and help probe them using class guidelines.

Katya Kazbek

Katya Kazbek is a bilingual Russian/English writer, translator, and editor of Greek, Russian, Ukrainian, and Jewish heritage, who lives and works in New York City, NY. She writes about the world’s cultures for supamodu.com and elsewhere. A previous graduate of Oxford’s writing MSt program, Katya got her MFA from Columbia University in 2019 and now teaches there herself. Her first novel Little Foxes Took Up Matches is a coming-of-age story set in Moscow right after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Testimonials

"Sometimes in the face of perversity, neglect, and growing up in a rundown Moscow flat one-bedroom too small, one needs to do their own myth-making. And in this unflinching, yet achingly humorous look at millennial Russia, Katya Kazbek celebrates a wonderfully heroic self-deification. Proving we can become the gods and goddesses this world truly needs."

Paul Beatty author of THE SELLOUT

"Many have tried and failed to summon the magic Katya Kazbek wields here as matter of factly as a switchblade. A relief, really, to read a debut novel as original as this―as cunning, wild and free."

Alexander Chee author of HOW TO WRITE AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL

"Katya Kazbek’s first novel is a book borne out of her experience of living in a world in which nothing is fixed but struggle, humor, and the unreality to be found in the reality of everyday life. Told with precision, empathy, and a non-jaundiced eye for the absurdity inherent in being different in a world that doesn’t necessarily cherish it, Little Foxes Took Up Matches, is an auspicious debut, eminently cherishable."

Hilton Als author of WHITE GIRLS

“I'm so grateful for Katya’s thoughtfulness and time and care with my work, her notes are always excellent and insightful.”

Columbia classmate

“Katya has so much enthusiasm for everyone’s works, whether it’s big name authors, or a fledgling like myself. I am very grateful for the engagement, kindness and generosity she has extended to me and my classmates.”

former student

“Katya’s guidance and edits were incredibly helpful - I am very grateful for that.”

fellow writer

“Katya put a lot of thought in her comments… really excited to incorporate the feedback and can’t thank her enough.”

former student

“Katya’s edits and suggestions were so thoughtful and helpful.”

former student

“Katya gave me such great notes, and tidied up my writing so effectively."

former student