“The Couch to 80k” Writing Boot Camp: Take a Free 8‑Week Podcast Course to Start Writing Fiction, or Even Finish a Novel

Image by Book Mama via Flickr Com­mons

We’ve all read fic­tion, but how to go about writ­ing it? Nobody has the defin­i­tive answer, and there, in the mul­ti­plic­i­ty of pos­si­ble approach­es, meth­ods, and frames of mind, lies both the chal­lenge and the fas­ci­na­tion of the craft. The Eng­lish writer Tim Clare, who before reach­ing forty years of age has pub­lished poet­ry, a mem­oir, and a nov­el as well as host­ed a tele­vi­sion series called How to Get a Book Deal, seems to know that full well. Hence the vari­ety of chal­lenges he’ll put you through in “The Couch to 80k” (80,000 words being the indus­try-stan­dard length of a nov­el), his free eight-week fic­tion-writ­ing “boot camp” avail­able for any­one to take free online.

Pro­duced as a part of Clare’s writ­ing-advice pod­cast Death of 1000 Cuts, the mini-series con­sists of 48 episodes, each of which, he says, “teach­es you new writ­ing skills through a 10 minute exer­cise – it even times you while you do the exer­cise, so once the pod­cast fin­ish­es, you’re done for the day. No home­work!”

You need only “some­thing to lis­ten to them on, and a pen and note­book or a lap­top, so you can write. The whole idea is to give you some­thing low com­mit­ment but intense, pack­ing in every­thing you’d learn on a Fic­tion MA and more, so every day you’re doing focused exer­cis­es that build upon your pre­vi­ous work and rapid­ly build your imag­i­na­tive mus­cles.”

Clare’s jokey, con­ver­sa­tion­al tone makes the course enter­tain­ing even if you don’t actu­al­ly want to write fic­tion, though Clare him­self, in the very first episode (above), cau­tions strong­ly against lis­ten­ing unless you’re ready to put pen to paper — and ready to con­sign every­thing you’ve writ­ten on that paper, through all eight weeks, straight to the recy­cle bin. Some of the chal­lenges Clare throws down may seem sil­ly, but they do get you writ­ing, and he under­girds the series with for­ays into more tech­ni­cal mat­ters like the “math­sy busi­ness of sen­tence com­po­si­tion” as well. Review­ing his nov­el Hon­ours, the Guardian’s Sarah Per­ry called Clare “a sto­ry­teller who knows what his read­er wants, and isn’t shy of giv­ing plen­ty of it.” As this boot camp reveals, he’s also a teacher who knows what his stu­dents need.

Enter the “The Couch to 80k” boot­camp here. And if you fol­low it through to com­ple­tion, “you’ll have the knowl­edge and the moti­va­tion to fin­ish a nov­el.”

via Metafil­ter

Relat­ed Con­tent:

William S. Bur­roughs Teach­es a Free Course on Cre­ative Read­ing and Writ­ing (1979)

The Dai­ly Habits of Famous Writ­ers: Franz Kaf­ka, Haru­ki Muraka­mi, Stephen King & More

Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writ­ers

Sev­en Tips From Ernest Hem­ing­way on How to Write Fic­tion

John Updike’s Advice to Young Writ­ers: ‘Reserve an Hour a Day’

10 Writ­ing Tips from Leg­endary Writ­ing Teacher William Zinss­er

Judy Blume Now Teach­ing an Online Course on Writ­ing

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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