Shut up + write

Shut up +write: A course in writing nonfiction – and that’s the truth. Mostly blogs + essays.

How to write a blog

We’ll talk about writing blog copy that people want to read. Make it short, clear and entertaining. We’ll discuss:

  • Organizing your material before you write.
  • Wielding active and imperative verbs.
  • Using positive, not negative, words and ideas.
  • And your questions

How to write an essay

We’ll talk about writing essays for newspapers, magazines and online publications. We’ll discuss:

  • Writing what you think about one narrow topic.
  • Sticking to the point. 
  • Basing your writing on deep emotions and your informed opinion.
  • Mentioning opposing points of view.
  • Being cranky. Being frightened. Being anything but insipid.
  • Beginning with a small observation, then hitting the topic hard. 
  • And your questions.

When and where

We meet on the first and third Thursday of each month at 3 p.m. at a confidential location near 15th and Locust Streets, in Center City Philadelphia. Maximum 8 students per class. We talk, listen and learn about writing creative nonfiction, primarily essays and blogs. As we edit each other’s manuscripts, we learn to edit our own.

In each session, we read aloud every submission that members have brought – that means 9 copies, please. We discuss what works and what doesn’t, what needs fixing and what words and sentences stand out as brilliant. We praise when we can and offer constructive criticism otherwise.

Discussions of blogging platforms are not part of this conversation. We’re about writing.

Who leads the course

I do. I base my lessons on each session’s submissions. For instance, if someone is mired in the passive voice – as in this sentence – then we’ll discuss that. Dangling participles cause me to explain how and why they are tricky. And so on.

Over years of running such nonfiction workshops, I have learned that it works best if each participant reads aloud someone else’s manuscript. That way, when it’s your turn, you can hear your piece from a totally different perspective. If the reader stumbles over a phrase, you can immediately see how to approach the next draft.

It costs $25 per session.

You may attend every week, once a month or as you wish. 

Sign up or request more information.