January 1, 2016
$415 | 8 to 12 Weeks
Shadow Writing is offered as both a private class and a group class. (The page for the group class can be found here.) The cost is one hundred dollars more when taken as a private class. Rather than eight weeks, the time to finish is extended to twelve weeks. Otherwise the class is the same: you’ll receive eight lessons and eight assignments. Gloria will respond with feedback on each piece you submit.
Want to take the class with a friend? You can. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
This course is not for the faint of heart. If you’re curious about writer’s block (a myth), the dreams, longings, cravings, obsessions, and needs that distract you from your writing because of the strength of their grip, the depth that you can’t quite reach in your writing for fear of turning up something unpleasant—instead of turning away, in this class, we will turn toward these things.
As writers, we are both and at once, attracted to the material of the shadow and repelled by it. Some never make the approach. Others make the approach and when encountering the unfamiliar, the strange, and/or the downright disgusting, turn away. A few are up to the challenge and charge ahead into the dark—where they find that the light is brightest. Beyond the threshold of the shadow you’ll find the richest, the most authentic, the deepest writing of which you’re capable.
To shadow write is to explore your unconscious longings and needs, fears and obsessions so that they don’t drive your essays and stories in a way that’s out of your control but rather, inform your writing in a way that’s honest and upholds your truest self. To shadow write is also to move into who you and your characters are as their best and worst selves, all at the same time. Finally, the decision to shadow write is to inquire into your unconscious life as much as your conscious life and to agree that you won’t shrink back from death’s dark door—yours and your characters’—as you write.
Step on the accelerator and move into one of the darkest places you’ve ever been as a writer—your own unconscious. This is where you’ll find your most authentic writing self, so hang on for the ride. Both fiction and nonfiction writers are welcome.
Recommended text: A Little Book on the Human Shadow by Robert Bly (recommended but not required)
Week One: Shadow Writing—Approaching the Dark and Hidden Places
What is the shadow? What is shadow writing? As writers, how do we move past the superficial and obvious into what’s really true when writing about a topic, any topic? What are the benefits of shadow writing? How can our shadow help us connect with ourselves?
Assignment: Write a profile of your shadow self.
Week Two: Longings and Needs—Coaxing Them Out Into the Open
Consider the longings and needs that are conscious for you. Now learn to write into the ones that aren’t, that are hidden in the shadow of your consciousness. When you can bring these out in your writing, they will inform your own life and the lives of your characters in ways you never imagined.
Assignment: Write an essay or a fictional scene that explores a longing or need you’ve never before acknowledged to yourself or written about. Prompts will be provided.
Week Three: Good and Evil—Owning Both Sides
We are as afraid of the “good” in ourselves as we are the “bad.”. But we can only achieve authenticity as writers when we can own both the good and the bad and integrate them into our creative self as we write. The shadow is where we must go in our writing in order to achieve this process.
Assignment: Explore your “good” and “bad” self in an essay or create a scene that includes the protagonist and antagonist facing off in an area that incorporates the bad in the protagonist and the good in the antagonist.
Week Four: Fears and Obsessions—Strengthening our Themes
Too often, as writers, we come up to our fears and obsessions and, instead of owning them in our stories and essays, we run the other way, thereby weakening the themes we want to explore for ourselves and our readers. Learn to plunge in; you will survive.
Assignment: Explore a personal fear and/or an obsession in an essay or fictional scene or story. You will be asked specific questions to help you access what’s hidden in your shadow.
Week Five: Guilt and Shame—Letting Them Go
As writers, our shadow can be filled with guilt and shame. When writing, whether a fictional story or a personal memoir, we can suddenly back away from writing a particular scene or exploring a certain kind of character because of unresolved and now unconscious guilt and/or shame around a moment in time in our personal lives. Facing our shadow can help us bring these moments out into the light and resolve them in our writing.
Assignment: Write a fictional scene or a scene from your life that filled you with guilt and shame, rewriting the ending and giving the moment a resolution.
Week Six: The Masks We Wear—Taking Them Off
We all wear masks in public, unconsciously in order to protect our true selves from judgment, ridicule, rejection and a host of other reactions that we believe we would receive were others to see who we really are. When writing, we continue this facade because of our own negative reactions to our true selves. If we were to take off all of the masks during our daily writing time, who would we be?
Assignment: Create a fictional character who behaves one way in public and another in private and put him into a scene where his false self is exposed. Or write about a real time when you had to make the choice to present your false self or to stand up and be your true self.
Week Seven: Life and Death—Staying Engage
Life and death—the last territory we must conquer as writers. Writing about death can scare the bravest of writers, but we often don’t look so deeply into our lives and understand that writing about life can be equally as scary. While some of us do make an effort to write consciously about life and death, it’s the unconscious—the shadow—that holds the deepest secrets and the most authentic writing that is accessible to us on these topics.
Assignment: Write an essay that explores both life and death simultaneously, or a fictional scene where your character is faced with death or, if staying alive, must make an unethical or immoral choice.
Week Eight: The Commitment—Staying Awake
Now that we’ve been awakened to some of the parts of ourselves that aren’t readily accessible when we write, how can we assure that we don’t go back to sleep in those areas? Shadow writing can be sustainable if there is a commitment to waking up to our authentic selves when we write.
Assignment: Create a plan to pursue shadow writing in whatever form it seems to want to show up.