Creative Writing: Introductory Workshop

I - June 28–July 16, 2021
Modality, Day & Time:
Monday–Friday, 10:00–11:00 a.m., 11:15 a.m. –12:45 p.m., and 3:15–4:45 p.m., with optional elective 2:00–3:00 p.m.

See representative biographies below.

Interested applicants are required to submit one or more creative writing samples demonstrating command of the English language (three pages minimum). The program may request additional writing samples as needed to determine the appropriate student level.

This class is intended for current 10th, 11th, and 12th graders. Younger students should apply for Introduction to Creative Writing.

“Columbia's classes and the fine writers that attended it combined to form and improve me as a writer. I worked the hardest I ever have, and I could not be happier with the results.” – Harrison K. | Nashville, Tennessee  

Course Description

A course designed for students who have not had extensive experience in creative writing. Through frequent writing exercises, participants develop such writing resources as voice, imagery, characterization, dialogue, and narration. Experimentation is encouraged.

Two daily workshops expose students to many aspects of the writing process, including generating ideas, writing and revising drafts, and editing. Participants practice their literary craft with an attentive group of their peers, under the guidance of an experienced instructor. They write extensively and participate in candid, helpful critiques of their own work and that of their peers. Students are expected to come to the workshops with an openness to various approaches toward literature and writing.

The workshops are supplemented by weekly one-on-one conferences with instructors and by a daily morning seminar in which participants read excerpts from outstanding works of literature so as to investigate what can be accomplished on the page.

Interested applicants are required to submit one or more creative writing samples demonstrating command of the English language (three pages minimum). The program may request additional writing samples as needed to determine the appropriate student level.


Students may choose an optional elective as a supplement to the three required daily class meetings. Please note that participation in an elective will prevent students from partaking in most other midday activities.

Comedy Writing: Students spend class time reading, writing, and performing comedy.

Genre Fiction: Students spend class time reading and writing different types of genre fiction, including science fiction, horror, crime, fantasy, and mystery.

Journalism: Students produce a news blog, including but not limited to campus and neighborhood news, book/music/art/restaurant reviews, interviews/profiles, and op-eds.

Publishing House: Students work as editors to create their own literary magazine, which is published at the end of the program.

Write What You Don’t Know: Students read authors who have perfected the art of writing in persona; exercises are designed to help students practice writing from points of view that are distinctly not their own.

Exquisite Corpse: Students wishing to focus more on poetry read a wide and stimulating selection of poems, and work toward finishing a chapbook at the end of the program.

Independent Project: Students complete an additional writing project and take part in extra conferences.

Courses in creative writing are offered in conjunction with the Writing Program at Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Overseen by Chair of Creative Writing Timothy Donnelly, Professor Alan Ziegler, and Director of Creative Writing for Pre-College Programs Christina Rumpf, the creative writing courses are designed to challenge and engage students interested in literary creation, providing them with a substantial foundation for further exploration of their creative work.


Sam Carpenter

Sam Carpenter is a writer from California, who is now based in New York where he is an MFA Candidate at Columbia University. He teaches writing in Columbia’s Undergraduate Writing Program, and is working on his first novel. 

Lisa Foad

Lisa Foad's debut collection, The Night Is A Mouth (Exile Editions), won the 2009 ReLit Award for Short Fiction, and received a 2010 Dayne Ogilvie Honour of Distinction from the Writers’ Trust of Canada. She's currently working on a novel and story collection.

Jane Marchant

Jane Marchant is a writer and photographer from Berkeley, California. Her essay, “A Century of Progress,” published June 2016 in Guernica, will be featured in the forthcoming anthology, The Beiging of America: Personal Narratives about Being Mixed Race in the Twenty-First Century (2Leaf Press, June 2017). Marchant is currently working on a researched memoir about her grandmother’s racial passing. She has lived in Munich, Amsterdam, and a treehouse in Turkey, and currently resides in New York City.

Trenton Pollard

Trenton Pollard writes poems and essays. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Lambda Literary Poetry Spotlight, Denver Quarterly, Journal Magazine, and elsewhere. He was the winner of the 2016 Artsong Contest by Memorious Magazine, and a selection of his poems were set to music by Elizabeth Kelley and debuted at the University of Nottingham during the Nottingham Arts Festival. Originally from Michigan, he has worked as a welder, massage therapist, and political organizer, and is interested in the intersections of place and identity.

Back to the Course Guide

Specific course detail such as hours and instructors are subject to change at the discretion of the University. Not all instructors listed for a course teach all sections of that course.