Come to Berlin, have a great weekend full of good content, and then write it all down as a well-crafted autobiographical piece.Under the guidance of Joseph Pearson - blogger and essayist - this alternative writing workshop explores the German capital through the genre of ‘creative non-fiction’, or essays based on real experiences. We will produce work that aims to be of a publication quality.
We will spend first days of the seminar learning about Berlin and city writing. The following weekend we will get lost in plot and the week after that we will refine your stories: summoning the desires and exhilaration of the city life on the printed page, and workshopping as a group.
This writing workshop is open to everyone –regardless of native language or level of writing experience– because we all have a story to tell.
Day 1: Thursday, 2 August (full day)
Morning: Introduction to the course and to one another. It’s important that we discuss elements of prose: voice, point-of-view and perspective, scene and description, argument, style, form and register. But it is equally important that we learn about each other as both people and readers.
Afternoon: An introduction to Berlin city, its past and present, and a discussion of where we are likely to find good plot in the city today. Weekend advice provided and discussed.
Day 2: Friday, 3 August (half day)
Morning: Free Writing exercise. We then look at examples of autobiographical and docu-fiction writing set in Berlin (Hessel, Isherwood, Regener, etc.). Final advice and preparation for the weekend ahead.
Afternoon (no class): The weekend starts now. Students go out into the city to look for plot, to pursue their stories, and write down their first drafts. These essay drafts are submitted to the email group by Sunday 4 p.m. Students read and comment on each other’s work before class on Monday.
Day 3: Monday, 6 August (half day)
Morning: Weekend debriefing followed by mini-workshop. We spend the morning workshopping and exchanging comments on the first draft of each other’s work.
Afternoon (no class): Is free for revision. Students refine their work, preparing their second drafts.
Day 4: Tuesday, 7 August (full day)
All Day: Workshop Day. We spend most of the day workshopping and exchanging comments on the second draft of each other’s work. We will then spend the remaining time revising as a group.
Students are asked to polish their work, aiming for publication standard, for presentation the next day. They email their final work by Wednesday 9 a.m. so it can be included in the volume of students’ work.
Day 5: Wednesday, 8 August (full day)
Morning: A field trip in the city to find more stories the city tells.
Afternoon: We present final work, reflecting on the writing process, our dynamic as a group, and what happened to us in Berlin.
Joseph Pearson is a non-fiction writer based in Berlin. His book, a portrait of Berlin, was published by Reaktion Books/University of Chicago Press (distr.) in 2017. He is the essayist and blogger of the Schaubühne, Berlin’s best-known theatre. Since 2008, he has been the voice of The Needle, one of Berlin’s most popular blogs. He writes for the BBC, Newsweek, Monocle Magazine, The New England Review, and others. He has lectured at Columbia University, NYC, and chairs a writing seminar at the Barenboim-Said Academy in Berlin. Born in Canada, he received his doctorate from Cambridge University, UK. His new book will appear in 2022 by HarperCollins and The History Press, and in Spanish translation.