Creative Writing Courses at Harvard

Category Student Voices

Author

Madi, HFAI coordinator
Madi Fabber Class of '22
Authored on July 26, 2021

Article

Growing up, I wanted nothing more than to be a writer. 

The plan was to publish a book by age fourteen and be a New York Times bestselling author by age eighteen. I’m twenty-one now, with admittedly no books published, but I still love writing just as much as I did back then.

However, coming to Harvard, writing was a passion I kept tucked away from my college experience. I was nervous about sharing my writing with the sea of incredibly talented peers I found myself in. I felt the ever-present imposter syndrome of my creative skills and vowed that for the time being, I would keep my plethora of Word Document pages hidden away in a nondescript folder on my desktop. 

Last summer, following the end of my sophomore year, I realized that I had to start critically thinking about thesising. As a joint concentrator in English and Theater, Dance, & Media, a thesis would be required to graduate with honors. As I was sifting through various ideas and themes I would be interested in spending my senior year diving headfirst into, I kept returning to the idea of writing a play. No matter how many ideas for a critical thesis, I couldn't shake the excitement at the prospect of completing a creative thesis instead. 

There was only one problem. 

In order to be eligible for a creative writing thesis in my departments, I had to have taken at least one creative writing workshop. This would mean actively, and repeatedly, putting my work out there to my fellow classmates  and receiving feedback on the work I did. I was terrified, but I knew what I had to do to write the thesis I wanted. 

So, before the start of junior fall, I suppressed my inhibitions and applied for the introductory playwriting course. It was a small, seminar-style course with less than a dozen students and our professor. We had a large span of class years, Harvard affiliations, interests, goals, and writing backgrounds. Though I was entering the class as someone wanting to pursue writing in future projects, several people in the class were taking it as a fun elective to flex their creative muscles. Through a series of imaginative writing prompts, generative exercises, and longer form projects, our semester culminated in a finished one act play with a plot entirely of our own choosing.

The playwriting workshop is easily one of my favorite classes I’ve ever taken at Harvard. Having a creative outlet in one of my classes felt fulfilling, and each assignment was something I looked forward to rather than dreading. Furthermore, because of the intimacy of the workshop setting, I learned so much about and from my fellow writers in the class. Everyone was supportive, and it was inspiring to watch everyone grow over the course of the semester. Looking at my writing from the beginning of the course to the end, I can see a noticeable difference in my style, craft, and approach to writing. 

My workshop experience was so rewarding, in fact, that I decided to take the advanced playwriting course in the spring with the same professor! At the end of the semester, a new short play that I wrote in the class premiered virtually at the Harvard Playwright’s Festival, which was a highlight of my junior year. I recruited many of my peers to read my work in the festival and bring it to life. Having so many friends so willing to give up their time and creativity to perform my work was so fulfilling, and the feedback I received from the audience afterwards encouraged me to continue working on the play and refining it. 

After these experiences, I feel more than ready to begin work on my playwriting thesis in the semesters to come, and I am confident that I will have a series of creative works I can be proud of once I graduate.
 

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Madi Fabber Class of '22

Hi y’all! My name is Madi, and I’m a junior in Winthrop House studying English; Theater, Dance, & Media; and Folklore & Mythology.

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Madi, HFAI coordinator