Introduction

"Tell all the truth but tell it slant.” - Emily Dickinson
Art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored only by those willing to take risks.” - Mark Rothko 
“Remember: The rules, like streets, can only take you to known places.” Ocean Vuong

Hi, my name is James and I’m going to be your instructor for this short course called How to be weird!

Let me start by saying weird is good. Weird is beautiful. Weird is surprising and exciting and strange. When it comes to writing stories, poems or even personal essays, getting in touch with the weird can take your writing to higher places and new plateaus! 

Embracing the weird in your writing means taking risks and breaking rules. It means being completely honest, not censoring yourself and not being afraid of judgement! It means having fun, trying experimental techniques and looking at things from strange, new angles.

In this course, we’ll explore how you approach writing in new ways, how you can unlock the weird in your writing and how you can look to other forms of art for inspiration. We’ll do some reading, lots of writing and break some writing rules too!

Everyone is a little bit weird, and we all have a unique way of looking at the world. Tapping into the strangeness lurking in the world and inside of you is a great way of beating writer’s block and creating work that is surprising and engaging. 

Let’s get weird!

What you need for this course:

  • Paper
  • Pen or pencil
  • Headphones or somewhere quiet you can listen to readings and watch a video
  • An open mind
  • A tasty snack to reward yourself with once you’re done!


Your course tutor is James Smart. James is a short story writer from Barnsley who loves language and what words can do! His stories have been published in the UK and abroad: he was shortlisted for The Commonwealth Short Story Prize, won the award for best new writer with US journal Glimmertrain, has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize and once for the Best of the Net award. He lives in Norwich and loves making things, exploring new places, and teaching creative writing!