“The only happiness you have is writing something new, in the middle of the night, armpits damp, heart pounding, something no one has yet seen. You have only those brief, fragile, untested moments of exhilaration when you know: you are a genius.” – Lorrie Moore, "How to Become a Writer"
There’s nothing better than that first spark of a story in your head: it’s new and shiny and thrilling, and, for most of us, the best part of the writing process—when the story lives only in our imagination. It’s when we try to put that idea on paper that we encounter frustration and confusion and are (sometimes) tempted to give up all together.
This four-week online course will walk you through the first stages of your novel or story as you begin the tricky maneuver of taking your brilliant ideas and putting them on the page. We’ll discuss strategies for overcoming doubt and writer’s block. Weekly writing exercises, craft lectures, and readings will help you to move forward, begin to develop characters, and shape your narrative.
Best suited for writers at the beginning stages of their writing practice, this course will also help you to figure out your writing habits and work style. There is no right answer or one way to approach writing—some people write in the early morning with a full outline and others write late at night with no idea of where the story is headed. But it is extremely helpful to figure out how you best work, to develop routines and discipline to build a strong writing practice.
We will hold weekly discussions and meet once individually over the phone. During the salon, you’ll discuss readings and the weekly lecture and ask questions about specific challenges that you’re facing. In our individual phone call, we can discuss a writing exercise of your choosing and go over strategies for moving forward in your work.
You have the option to post your writing assignments in the comments section of the Craft page and comment on each other’s work as you go. I encourage you to post your work as a way to stay accountable to yourself, but please only post if you’re also willing to comment on your classmates’ work.
By the end of this class, you will have some pages of new material and strategies and tips for moving forward with your project.
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 Zoom desktop client so you have access to all platform features.
- Creating new material
- Learning strategies for moving forward
- Building a strong writing practice
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Weekly writing exercises (1-2 pages) and readings, commenting on classmates' work—about 2-3 hours of work outside of class time.
Week 1: Introductions and getting started. You have an idea for a novel or story—now what?
Week 2: How to keep moving forward (or how not to get stuck)
Week 3: Writing habits
Week 4: Creating a summary and outline
Jennifer Close is the best-selling author of Girls in White Dresses, The Smart One, and The Hopefuls. Born and raised on the North Shore of Chicago, she is a graduate of Boston College and received her MFA in Fiction Writing from the New School in 2005. She worked in New York in magazines for many years and has taught creative writing at George Washington University for the past 8 years.
“Hilarious. . . . A pleasure to read. . . . [Close] has a light, precise touch about the way a young marriage works when the partners are caught between old ideals and new realities.”
“Inspired by Close’s own experiences moving to Washington for her husband’s work on the Obama campaign, The Hopefuls is blisteringly honest about the circus of American politics and Washington’s exhausting culture of competition—one that that renders people outside of political circles virtually invisible.”
“I couldn’t put down this juicy novel, which is all about what striving to make it in politics does to relationships.”
“Captivating. . . . Close, whose husband worked on Obama’s campaign, uses her knowledge of this world—and her experience as an outsider—expertly. Beth’s conversational narration feels like peering into the diary of someone who shares your deepest insecurities.”
“New York newlyweds head to D.C. to—what else?—chase their dreams. Actually, just Matt’s dreams. His wife, Beth, isn’t all that impressed by the surrounding political haughtiness until she meets another couple, Jimmy and Ash. The Hopefuls will make you rethink inviting your best married friends over for dinner.”