Under the guidance of the author, blogger and writer Joseph Pearson, this alternative writing workshop explores the German capital through the genre of ‘creative non-fiction’ and essays based on real experiences. The course aims to set a high writing standard and produce work of publication quality.
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 for institutions like the BBC, 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 publication quality.
We will spend the first days of the seminar learning about Berlin and city writing. The following weekend we will get lost in the 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 4 July 2019, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Morning, 10 a.m.–12 a.m.
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, 1 p.m.–4 p.m.
An introduction to Berlin city, its past, and present, and a discussion of where we are likely to find a good plot in the city today. Weekend advice provided and discussed.
DAY 2 — Friday 5 July 2019, 10 a.m.–1 p.m.
Free Writing exercise. We then examine examples of autobiographical and docu-fiction writing set in Berlin (Isherwood, Regener, etc.). Final advice and preparation for the weekend ahead.
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 at 4 p.m. Students read and comment on each other’s work before class on Monday.
DAY 3 — Monday 8 July 2019, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Workshop Day. We spend the entire day workshopping and exchanging comments on the first draft of each other’s work.
Tuesday is free for revision and second drafts must be submitted by Tuesday at 5 p.m. to the group email so that we can read the new drafts and make notes for the next day.
DAY 4 — Wednesday 10 July 2019, 9 a.m.–1 p.m.
Workshopping and exchanging comments on the second draft of each other’s work.
No class. The day is free for revision. Students are asked to polish their work, aiming for publication standard, for presentation the next day. They email their final work by Thursday at 9 a.m.
DAY 5 — Thursday 11 July 2019, 9 a.m.–2 p.m.
A field trip in the city to find more stories the city tells. We then return to the UdK to pick up the anthology of our work, reflect 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.