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Our writing workshops are taught by seasoned industry professionals and designed to teach:

  • Artistry over identity

  • Craft-based analysis of student writing

  • Real-world advice from industry pros

  • Lively and nuanced discussion

  • Intellectual curiosity

  • Humor, support, inspiration, and fun

For the Spring 2024 cohort, you have three options:

  1. Special Topics in Memoir: Writing Your Cancellation Story with Sherman Alexie

  2. Make Them Feel It: Writing Irresistible, Publishable Fiction with Caeli Widger

  3. Writing a Script that Doesn’t Suck with Sam Wolfson

Ready to get started?


Special Topics in Memoir: Writing Your Cancellation Story with Sherman Alexie

All Levels 
(*two reduced-tuition scholarships available – note in application if you’d like to be considered)

Cancellation is brutal, swift, and greedy. It can take your job, friends, health, and dignity. If you’ve been canceled, one of the first things you probably lost was control of your own narrative. Suddenly, your story no longer belonged to you, but to other people, many of whom didn’t know you at all. It may have become the domain of an angry mob. Almost certainly, it became the property of the internet.

Whether your cancellation occurred recently or years ago, this course will help you translate your experience onto the page with narrative cohesion and emotional impact. Expect frank and intelligent conversation, insightful feedback on your pages, and a healthy dose of catharsis. Learn to make your writing—whether it be an essay, short fiction, or chapter of a larger work—as fundamentally un-cancellable as your spirit.

For this class, you will work with a true master of American letters, Sherman Alexie—a literary legend who has experienced cancellation firsthand. Few authors have reached the height and scope of his multi-genre achievements. His classic young adult novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, has sold millions of copies worldwide and is taught in over a thousand colleges and high schools every year. His many other books include bestselling novels, an acclaimed memoir, a celebrated picture book, many New Yorker short stories, film adaptations, and poetry collections. He's taught writing workshops for three decades and has mentored writers at every stage of their careers—from beginners to New York Times Bestselling authors.

This is an extraordinary opportunity to work with one of America’s most accomplished, prolific, and beloved authors in setting your record straight, getting on with your life, and maybe even helping the culture get to a better place.

April 16 – May 21, 2024

Tuesdays, 4-6 pm PST (Zoom)

Tuition: $1500

Headshot of Caeli Widger. The Unspeakeasy writing courses and workshops. Publishable fiction

Make Them Feel It: Writing Irresistible, Publishable Fiction with Caeli Widger

All Levels

Writing fiction has always been a terrible way to make money. Then again, according to legend, whenever Raymond Carver was strapped for cash, he banged out a couple of short stories to sell. And, once upon a time, novelists didn’t have to moonlight as social media mavens and culture warriors in order to sell a few books.

Oh, how times have changed! For short story writers and novelists, the prospect of ever seeing your work in print, let alone getting paid for it, can feel impossible. If you can relate, this workshop is for you. The mission of the class is twofold: first, to help students transform their work-in-progress into short stories or novel excerpts that readers cannot put down. We’ll do that through deep, craft-based analyses of students’ submissions that will empower the author to revise with confidence and ultimately submit for publication.  


Secondly, we’ll talk candidly about the current landscape of publishing fiction, both in general and as it pertains to each student’s work.  We’ll discuss strategies for breaking past industry gatekeepers, sensitivity readers, and editors who choose virtual signaling over literary art. If you’re eyeing MFA programs, we can help make your application unrejectable. Above all, we’ll stay committed to writing fiction that knocks the wind out of readers while making them feel more alive. And maybe, in time, we’ll make a few bucks too. 

Caeli Widger is the author of four novels: two works of literary fiction written under her name (Real Happy Family, Mother of Invention) and two commercial thrillers (Santa Monica, The Last Party) written with her best friend under the pen name Cassidy Lucas.  Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals, the New York Times Magazine, as Kindle Singles, on NPR, and lots of other places no one cares about. She earned her MFA from the University of Montana and has been teaching writing workshops since 2005, in settings ranging from University College London to Brooklyn living rooms. Caeli lives near Santa Barbara, CA with her husband and three children, where she runs a staffing company by day and writes fiction in the early mornings.

April 17 – May 22, 2024

Wednesdays, 11 am – 1 pm PST (Zoom)

Tuition: $900

Headshot of Sam Wolfson. The Unspeakeasy writing courses and workshops. Screenplays

Writing a Script that Doesn’t Suck with Sam Wolfson

All Levels

Pretty much everyone on the planet thinks they have a great idea for a movie, and a few of them actually do. But ideas are the easy part. Actually sitting down and writing the thing—well, that can be torture. This course aims to minimize the pain and maximize the fun of screenwriting by helping students get fluent in the key elements of a great script: structure, dialogue, conflict, characters, description, formatting, and theme.  Creating and choosing the right scenes for a script is a shapeshifting, seemingly never-ending puzzle; this course aims to help the writer put those pieces together.  It’s all about taking a holistic creative approach to learn the craft of screenwriting in conjunction with the lost art of taking criticism; not just how to implement a good suggestion that comes your way, but how to embrace a critique you disagree with and still find a way to spin it into something useful.

Through reading and moderating discussions of students’ works-in-progress, plus lots of nerdy talk about why certain movies and shows just work and others don’t, Sam will equip each writer to craft scripts that have a singular vision and tell a killer story.  He’ll also share his personal tales from the frontlines of Hollywood, particularly in how he achieved commercial success by writing characters based on his own experiences and those who differed radically from him in virtually every way—on the surface, anyway. 

Sam Wolfson is the writer of the Netflix hit YA rom-com Tall Girl, and the follow-up smash hit Tall Girl 2.  His TV credits include writing for all three seasons of the hit Disney Channel comedy And Mack, the hit MTV drama Finding Carter and the reboot of Lizzie Maguire for Disney Plus.  His theater credits include co-writing Jewtopia, one of the longest-running and fastest-recouping productions in Off-Broadway history.  The play had licensed productions all over the world.  His second original play, Playdates, ran for over a year in Los Angeles to sold-out crowds.  He co-penned Jewtopia; The Chosen Book for the Chosen People, which was published by Warner Books.   He’s also sold a bunch of other pilots to a bunch of other networks and streamers, but the projects never get made, so let’s not dwell on it.  

April 19 – May 24, 2024

Fridays, 10am – 12pm PST (Zoom)

Tuition: $900

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