Wednesday’s WIP: Nonfiction on the Brain

brainIf you’ve been following my bylines for the past year or so, you may have noticed something: They’re almost all for nonfictional writings. Book reviews. Arts coverage. Commentaries. Even a few personal essays.

There are likely lots of reasons behind this shift nonfiction-ward, but I’m not going to speculate on/delve into them today. Today, I simply want to take note of the change. Maybe it’s a phase. But it seems to be lasting.

One of my latest bylines appeared on The Forward‘s arts blog last week. It’s an opinion piece that encompasses art (theater) and politics. Titled “Why I’m Going to See an ‘Anti-Israel’ Play,” it’s something that I wanted (and needed) to write, but had been struggling to get started. I suspect that I would have written it eventually, but I got a helpful nudge in an online class I took earlier this month. That class, “How to Publish Op-Eds and Commentaries,” is one of several offered through The Thinking Writer.

The Thinking Writer. (How I love that brand name! And its tagline: “classes and community for people with ideas.”) This was my second class with the Thinking-Writer-in-Chief, Anne Trubek. I enrolled in the original “How to Pitch” class two years ago–in part to give myself some structure and new ideas/energies, and in part out of curiosity: I’ve taught online in the past, and I might do so again, and I was interested in seeing how these classes “worked.” It’s not that I was altogether new to pitching (or, more recently, new to op-eds and commentaries). But the investments–of time and money–seemed reasonably low-risk (especially since I enrolled in this second class at a discounted “alumni” rate).

As with most writing classes that involve groups, a lot depends on the cohort you’re a part of. Anne has a following of academics (and recovering/alt-academics), which means that there are typically a cluster of smart and well-read people in her classes. I like that. A lot.

I’m not sure if/when I’ll take my next class. But in the meantime, I’m becoming increasingly comfortable with my identity as a practicing writer who is very much a “thinking writer,” too–and with seeing my thoughts transformed into nonfiction publications.

4 thoughts on “Wednesday’s WIP: Nonfiction on the Brain

  1. Marlena Maduro Baraf says:

    You are indeed a thinking writer. Thank you for letting us look over your shoulder.

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      Thank you so much, Marlena!

  2. CD Mitchell says:

    More and more I benefit from reading your posts. Your comment about the shift to nonfiction is intriguing. As a writer of fiction and creative nonfiction myself, I find I am often switching between the two–writing in whatever is hot for me at the time. But it seems I go through phases where I do more work in one area than another.But I never experience writer’s block with 2 genres to write in! I also liked your comment about the class and the work you produced. I once wrote a column for a small bi-weekly alternative newspaper. I had an article due every two weeks. I found it amazing how often that deadline came around, and even though I was paid nothing for the articles, my writing definitely benefited from the need to be a thinking writer and to think through topics and essays I normally would never have considered.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      Thank you, CD! Yes, there is that definite bonus of avoiding writer’s block this way!

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