Write Better, Right Away, with Laird Harrison, June 29 (via Wet Ink/Zoom)

TUESDAYS, JUNE 29 — JULY 20 |  Are you a technologist at sea in the world of words? A manager moved to make memos more motivating? A retiree with storytelling on the agenda? Whatever your background, this course will boost your writing skills to the next level. You’ll learn how to apply the principles of clarity, specificity, precision and brevity to any kind of writing. You’ll escape the smothering embrace of academic jargon and business-speak while yet tailoring your approach to the specific needs of your audience. You’ll finish with new confidence and joy in writing.

Students will read a variety of short texts on writing techniques. They will participate in weekly writing exercises, complete short homework assignments and critique each other’s work.

In the first week, we’ll focus on understanding the unique demands of each writing assignment. We’ll analyze how the message must be structured to reach an audience, whether the purpose is to persuade, inform or inspire. This discussion will lead to outlining, and other tools of organization. We’ll learn how to overcome the fear of the blank page.

In the second week we’ll delve into matters of style: when to use the active voice, and when the passive is preferred; what makes a verb weak or strong; how to prune the deadwood from each sentence.

In the third week, we’ll analyze our own strengths and weaknesses as writers. Are you a procrastinator or overly pragmatic? Do you lack discipline or feel uninspired? We’ll cover techniques you can you use to turn your faults to your advantage.

The fourth week will explore the art of revision. In a workshop format, we will consolidate the lessons from the previous weeks. We’ll talk about how to make use of feedback, how to make each draft improve on the previous one, and how to polish the finished piece. Each writer will emerge with stronger writing muscles and a plan for continued growth.

This class will meet on Zoom. Registered students, please contact the instructor directly for Zoom details.

Laird Harrison has spent his life teaching sentences to behave themselves. A genre-nonconforming writer, he has published essays in Salon and The Nation, poetry in Catamaran and Chinquapin, journalism in Time and Reuters. WUNC and KQED have broadcast his radio scripts. Verdant Books published his novel, Fallen Lake, the story of two couples who fall in love with each other. When not scaling the walls of the literary establishment, Laird has explored the commercial purposes of prose. He has conjured advertising copy for a company that makes convention-badge lanyards and he covered the news of medical dysfunctions for the likes of Urology Times. Laird has taught writing at San Francisco State University, UC Berkeley, Mediabistro and Bhutan’s Royal Thimphu College, as well as the Writers Grotto.

Contact: lairdharrison@gmail.com

Number of sessions: 4

Dates: Tuesdays, June 29; July 6, 13, 20

Time: 5:30 – 7:00pm Pacific Time

Wet Ink modules available: June 29, 5:30pm

Course fee: $239

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