The University of Iowa

The Free-Writing Intensive: For All Genres

Weeklong June 21 to June 26 2020

Most of us write a first draft the same way every time no matter the subject. We fall into habitual patterns that either become unconscious, or get mistaken for our “voice.” It is a lot like social dancing: there are countless ways to move in space, yet we wind up doing the same tired frat boy two-step to every song. The Free-Writing Intensive is a weeklong training session in a skill that is vital, yet rarely taught or practiced: the act of filling a page. This workshop (first introduced eleven years ago at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, and since offered at programs throughout the U.S.) opens the vault to a series of counter-intuitive and beguiling techniques, designed to address obstacles to creativity, and alter our writing “DNA.” Above all, we learn how to surprise ourselves on the page—surprise being the key ingredient of any first draft, without which it is senseless to revise. The Free-Writing Intensive also yields two valuable byproducts: 1) we emerge with an enormous volume of new writing; 2) we are inoculated from “writer’s block.”


In this workshop, we will generate new writing through exercises and assignments.

All Genres