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Writing Club provides space for students to create and critique work

By Polina Potochevska

Section: Features

March 9, 2018

Students interested in the creative writing workshops at Brandeis know the process of getting involved can be nerve-wracking. From the small class sizes–each is capped at around 12—to the requirement that every student submit a writing sample to the instructor before enrolling, some students are left waiting for the following semester to join a course. The new Brandeis Writing Club aims to find a solution.

“We offer a space for writers of whatever level to have the resources to have their works edited and critiqued, whether or not they can get into one of the workshops offered by the university,” said Nicole Zador ’20, one of the co-presidents.

Jack Fox ’18, co-president, explained that during his first two years at Brandeis he wanted to take a creative writing workshop but couldn’t manage to fit one into his schedule.

“And even when I could work it into my schedule I had to audition to get in,” he said, “You have to get into the class sizes which are usually around 11 as a maximum so there’s often a waiting list.”

Fox realized a club could act as an alternative.

“I had been thinking about it but I didn’t really see it as possible until I realized how large the need was for this kind of thing,” said Fox. He and Zador took a Genre Fiction creative writing workshop with Professor Michelle Hoover (ENG). During the class, they discussed how students could benefit from a workshopping club. These conversations encouraged Fox and Zador to form the Writing Club.

“The point was brought up as to ‘Why don’t we have a club that does this?’ because the writing workshops are so small and we have all these literary magazines but no way to critique [the pieces] before you send them in,” said Zador.

The club meets on Sunday evenings from 5-6:30 p.m. every week. Students who wish to have a work critiqued can send in many genres including poetry, creative nonfiction, fiction or screenplays to the club’s email brandeiswritingclub@gmail.com. The works go onto a list and before every club meeting, members will read and take notes on two or three submissions and discuss their comments at the meeting. Fox and Zador select the works for that week based on the order they were received.

At the beginning of the every meeting, the co-presidents give writing tips and discuss various facets of creative writing such as character development, pacing or plot. From there, each submission is given around half an hour to discuss and critique. At the end of the meeting, they try to incorporate a free writing exercise based on a prompt.

“It gives [members] the time and space to actually just write because I know that students—me included—with very busy schedules just find it hard to fit time in to actually just write,” said Zador.

Both Zador and Fox agreed writing is a beneficial skill in all aspects of life. It can also be a great stress reliever, Zandor said.

“Many people write to relieve stress, and then when they’re done they have nowhere to go with it. A lot of people that I’ve spoken to are interested in critiquing their work and making it better and finding ways to improve,” said Zador of the club’s benefits.

The Writing Club hopes to become an official club, recognized by the Student Union, which would allow them to request fundings from the Allocations Board to take trips in Boston to hear speakers.

Zador also mentioned that the club hopes to partner with other creative clubs on campus, and the Creative Writing Department, so writers of all levels of experience can help each other. “I think that it’s a great opportunity that a lot of people don’t know about yet, so we’re working on advertising,” Fox said.

Fox wants to “dispel” the idea that students would not feel good enough to participate in writing workshops, especially those offered by other literary groups on campus that may seem advanced for less experienced writers. The Writing Club is meant for students of any major who are interested in creative writing in its many forms.

“I know some people can be nervous if they’ve never gone to a workshop before, but it’s really a no-judgement space,” said Zador. “We’re all there to make our work better. If the piece was already perfect, we wouldn’t need to workshop it, so it’s really an open space. We give everyone a chance to go through the process,” said Zador.

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