Wild Writers Seminars

Experience with hundreds of developing and mature writers — and my own practice — have convinced me that writing must be grounded in a discipline of receptiveness that connects to every part of one’s life: physical, spiritual, social, environmental. Wildness pours into your writing when the way is opened!

Thus with writing (as with any kind of creativity) a large part of the process is just getting out of your own way. Yet another large part is discipline and mastery of craft. That’s the paradox of control and wild abandon that makes writing so difficult and so exhilarating.

The Wild Writers Seminar meets once or twice a year in a private setting to encourage writers on this paradoxical path.  Some Seminars are pitched toward intermediate or experienced writers; others are open to all.

Where and When

Once or twice a year (depending on my writing schedule) the Wild Writers Seminar meets for a 10- to 12-week session, with one or two extra (non-meeting) weeks built in to syncopate the routine and allow longer spans of writing and reflection. We meet once a week for three hours in a large, beautiful home set in a spacious urban garden. The atmosphere is private and personal, yet professional. We have fun and work hard.

What We Do

Groups are limited to 10 participants. Our goals are to inspire, support, and challenge each other. I assume that every one of us (myself included) has something particular to learn during this time. It’s our job to discover what that something is. Here’s how:

We will, of course, be reading our new work to each other, offering commentary, learning what works through the crucial vehicle of trying it out on an audience. I believe in an honest but constructive process: No ganging up. No group-think. No prima donnas.

I’ll also bring something to think about: something for the senses, something for the mind. Microbiology, music, a recent hike, an urban vista, a quote – the material varies. It often suggests a process for us to consider: some way natural wildness reveals a dimension of creative process. As a former back-country guide and climbing instructor, and a life-long lover of the wide world, I’ll find ways to connect us to the life outside our meeting room.

I’ll distill the creative process into some practical “try this” exercises. These may be things you try once in your daily-writing journal, or they may grow into new poems, stories, essays.

Writing arises from reading. So I also contribute brief, suggestive selections each week, a miscellany to trigger and puzzle and delight. I may start with something from Walt Whitman, and range from there all over the known universe of writers. (In time, you may find yourself bringing in your own to share…). We will comment on and learn from these common readings.
Salmon Creek Trail

Sometimes I may offer a practice or discipline designed to create possibilities of openness in body and spirit: The Judgment Fast. The Media Fast. The Palimpsest. Think of them as creative études — spiritual studies, explorations at the foundations of craft, and perhaps simply play.  Whatever happens is bound to be interesting — and may nudge or jolt us out of our habits, into newer and rawer (perhaps wilder) perceptions, attitudes, words, sentences.

In every case, of course, the student chooses what to try or not try. My role is coach, fellow-writer, co-explorer. We find things together.

The natural world provides stunning models of creative process. The Wild Writers approach is to tap into that native creativity — a process that applies to any kind of project, from “nature writing” to romance novels; fiction, nonfiction, or poetry.

To Sign Up or Inquire about Current Schedule:

Contact me for information on currently-offered or upcoming Wild Writers Seminar, or to initiate the application process.

Cost is currently $325 for the Seminar (this includes a book of essays and other photocopied materials). Private time working with longer manuscripts can be arranged.

Recent Seminars

Wild Writers Seminar: “The Nonlinear Memoir: It’s Not All About You.”  An intensive dive into techniques of focusing a memoir not on chronology but on a leading idea, theme, or path of discovery. January – March 2020.

Wild Writers Seminar: “Writing in a Dark Time.”  As our nation faces a presidency of unprecedented deceitfulness and demagoguery, what is the role of writers? How to avoid ranting and merely temporary wrangling? Where is the heart? In this dark time, what is light?  In our eleven weeks we found our voices and sent pieces off for publication (including pieces in Terrain.org’s “Dear America” series).  We sent out a call to writers and received work from all over North America, assembled into the book Come Shining: Essays and Poems on Writing in a Dark Time (Kelson Books 2017). January – March 2017.