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Video from the Journal & Sketchbook class, Interlochen 2011



This is a short video of participants from the Journal & Sketechbook class at the June 2011 Interlochen Writers' Retreat. Every day, we used a variety of drawing and writing activities to explore how to visualise scene in a piece of writing, and then to carry over the visual discoveries into the writing. It's a 'generative' class, as opposed to the traditional 'hand out ten copies of your work and let the dogs rip it to shreds' approach of the traditional writing workshop. In other words, the idea is always to move at a certain point to your writing, whether that's fiction, memoir, personal essay, or other prose forms (not poetry).

In the video above, people are in the process of drawing three moments of scene from their writing, related in subject but with some time between them. They then go to the writing, read back from what they've written, and perhaps show some of their drawing. In this class at Interlochen, as in the other times we've taught Journal and Sketchbook, it is remarkable what people manage to see in their scene, and tell to the page, after they have tried drawing it for a while. It should go without saying that you don't need to make a polished representational drawing in order to do this: I coach people in basic drawing, shapes, gestures, and so on, but mainly I try and get them past the inhibitions, the barriers, and just to fill the page as much as they can. Whether that's with stick figures or perfectly rendered volumes is irrelevant. Everyone in this class certainly loosened up pretty quickly, and every one of the six people, without exceptions, produced what I would call beautiful drawings, and made huge strides in their writing.

Basically, you can't ask for more than that.

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