Writing school

Introducing Pandemic University, a pop-up writing school

If you’ve put off writing that great Canadian novel or memoir by watching everything on Netflix, procrastinate no longer.

A new online school called Pandemic University will have you writing in no time. Maybe you’ll even have a manuscript ready when things get back to normal.

On their just-launched site, the pop-up project says it’s a writing school for and by locked-down, quarantined writers. It was started by freelance writer and documentary filmmaker Omar Mouallem. After losing contracts due to travel restrictions, loss of childcare and self-isolation, he decided to reconfigure the seminars he gives online and recruit other writers to do the same.

The school offers 14 short and affordable creative writing courses, all taught via Zoom. They range from writing a true crime (taught by Katherine Laidlaw), to writing personal essays (by Hadiya Roderique) and building a TV pilot (by Kaitlin Fontana), to proposing a a solid book (by Michael Hingston) and the presentation of your magazine article. (by Mouallem).

Some instructors have lost their jobs and others are donating their fees to colleagues who have lost their jobs due to circumstances.

Maybe you can even turn your quarantine sourdough-making skills into a cookbook after taking Jennifer Cockrall-King’s course, Cookbook Confidential: Recipe of a Misunderstood Artform.

You can sign up for individual classes for $15 per shot, or per donation for certain events. Full registration costs $99 and gives you access to all 14 courses. $59 gets you half an entry and gives you access to 7. (All prices are in US dollars.)

Classes take place from April to May. And the instructors are also available for private and individual lessons.

And just in case you’re wondering if the pop-up can legally call itself a “university,” the school says Universities Canada has no problem with the moniker, because clearly they “don’t do not plan to offer university-level studies”.

In other words, don’t expect to come out with a degree. But expect to be a much stronger, more marketable writer.