University of Iowa

Driving Through the Dark: Writing a Story in a Week

Weeklong July 15 to July 20 2018

E.L. Doctorow said: “Writing a book is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights go, but you can make the whole trip that way.”


One of the wonderful things about writing exercises is that if you do enough of them, you can write an entire story that way -- a story that, because you bypassed the logical, critical part of your brain, is often original, surprising, and powerful. In this class, you’ll put what you’re working on at home aside and create a new story this week in Iowa City, sharing your creative process with the group and getting feedback as you go. I’ll assign writing exercises to hone your skills in creating characters, building conflict, dramatizing scenes with dialogue and description, experimenting with voice, and using setting effectively. These short pieces will build on each other so that by the end of the week, you will have the first draft of a short story. We will wrap up the week by discussing our stories and suggesting possible routes to revision.


Come prepared to do lots of writing, both in and out of class because, to quote Doctorow again, “Planning to write is not writing. Outlining a book is not writing. Researching is not writing. Talking to people about writing is not writing. Writing is writing.”

Short Story