University of Iowa

Essay Bootcamp: A Generously Generative Workshop

Weeklong June 16 to June 21 2019

You’re out of shape, bored of the same routine, or simply haven’t had the time to keep that promise you made to yourself in January. You’re stuck, in other words, in one way or in several. You need that extra push. Welcome to Essay Bootcamp. In this course, we’ll sweat our way back into the writing chair and work our way up to heavy lifting—of pencils and of thought—through a dozen new and generative exercises guaranteed to jumpstart a year of writing. Shaped closely by in-class discussions of a wide variety of both contemporary and canonical essayistic forms (including personal essays, narrative essays, braided essays, lyric essays, and experimental essays, to name a few), our exercises will target point-of-view, chronology, form, voice, and structure, above all requiring us to weave those abstract qualities of beauty and truth—the two pillars of strong, memorable literary essays. While we’ll find ourselves working out daily, worry not: there’s no need to hit the gym. Here, victory takes the shape of new and meaningful work. By the end of our time together, students will have the beginning framework for a dozen new essays, substantial notes for one such essay’s revision through a thorough and constructive critical workshop, and most importantly, deep connections with fellow writers to ensure accountability long beyond your time in Iowa. There is perhaps no greater burn than that found in constructing artful narratives of our lives, and together, we’ll reap the rewards as we sweat our way into peak prose-ical fitness.


In this workshop we will generate new writing through guided exercises and prompts.

Hybrid Forms