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.
We will spend the 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 One: Friday 6 August 2021, 10 am – 4 pm
Morning 10 am – 12 pm: 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 pm – 4 pm: 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 Two: Saturday 7 August 2021, 10 am – 3 pm
Morning 10 am – 12 pm: 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.
Afternoon 1 pm – 3 pm: A field trip in the city to find more stories the city tells. From here, your weekend starts to look for plot and pursue your stories, and write down your first drafts. These essay drafts are submitted to the email group by Monday 4 p.m. Students read and comment on each other’s work before class on Tuesday.
Day Three: Tuesday 10 August 2021, 10 am – 6 pm
All Day: Workshop Day. We spend the entire day workshopping and exchanging comments on the first draft of each other’s work.
Wednesday 11 August 2021 is free for revision and second drafts must be submitted by Wednesday 5pm to the group email so that we can read the new drafts and make notes for the next day.
Day Four: Thursday 12 August 2021, 9 am – 1 pm
We spend the morning workshopping and exchanging comments on the second draft of each other’s work.
Afternoon (no class): 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 midnight.
Day Five: Friday 13 August 2021, 10 am – 12 pm
Morning: The anthology of our work is published. We reflect on the writing process, our dynamic as a group, the market and publication possibilities, and what happened to us in Berlin.
Students are encouraged to spend the weekend in Berlin, exploring the city, and writing more!
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.