Instructor Leanne Tankel on Inspire Summer 2024 Creative Writing Course

Samantha Abrishami headshot Samantha Abrishami,  
4 weeks ago

"My habit of reading voraciously also grew, as I understood that 'good' writers are, without exception, 'good' readers." - Leanne Tankel

Creative Writing combines creative thinking and writing skills, two valuable fundamentals that enhance critical thinking. Read about the psychological benefits of creative writing here. From budding novelists to future business executives, all students will benefit from Leanne Tankel’s course this summer. 

Q: Tell us about your journey into the world of creative writing and how you developed your expertise in the field?Creative Writing Instructor

A: I started writing when I was seven years old. I started with poems and then moved to short stories. As my interest in becoming a writer grew, my habit of reading voraciously also grew, as I understood that “good” writers are, without exception, “good” readers. To this end, I read everything I could find that interested me, and, by the time I was in high school, I started reading the biographies of various writers with whom I was obsessed. Elizabeth Bishop is one such example, and I learned from her the importance of incorporating in my efforts both specific details and carefully crafted sensory descriptions. 

Later, as an undergraduate in the English department at UC Berkeley, I was awarded one of the school-wide poetry prizes for my work, and-upon graduation-I was offered a creative writing teaching fellowship for my graduate studies at Boston University. At BU, I was tasked with teaching undergraduate Creative Writing courses, which allowed me to experience the immense satisfaction of guiding young writers in the process of honing their craft and finding their voice. 

Finally, years later, my memoir manuscript was a short-list finalist for the Santa Fe Literary Awards prize, which was judged by the late Allen Cheuse, a prominent writer and literary critic. This led to my memoir’s publication and, eventually, translation into Romanian. I continue to write, carving out time to complete my second full-length manuscript and as a music critic for Americana Highways. I also continue to teach and find working collaboratively in a community of writers to be invaluable in acquiring the skills and discipline essential to the craft.

Q: What knowledge and skills can students expect to learn in Creative Writing this summer?  

A: During Creative Writing this summer, students can expect to gain various tools and learn several techniques to make their writing better and more polished than it is now. Through exercises, lessons on craft, and one-on-one meetings with me, students will leave our class with a more developed understanding of their own voice and how to use that voice to communicate effectively with their reader.

Q: Do students need a background in creative writing to be successful in this class?

A: While students do not need a background in creative writing to be successful in this class, they should arrive with a piece of writing that they are interested in working on and improving. Some students may discover during our sessions a genre of writing or an approach to writing about their subject that they hadn’t previously considered, and that is great! In short, students should expect for this class to meet them where they are as writers…and to be open to and curious about the different directions they may decide to go with their work from the rich and varied content offered in this course. 

Q: What advice do you have for students interested in taking Creative Writing this summer? 

A: Be open to new ideas, stay receptive to feedback from both your classmates and me, and be disciplined in your approach to get the most out of our week together.

Q: What is your current favorite book?

A: That is a difficult question! Just as when I was younger, I continue to be a voracious reader and am currently reading a variety of writing from several genres. I will say that in preparation for this course, I have been revisiting some of my favorite books on the writing process, such as Anne Lamont’s Bird By Bird and Stephen King’s On Writing. One recent collection I have been enjoying, written by one of my favorite writers, Richard Russo, is his collection of essays on writing and life, The Destiny Thief. There is so much we can learn from reading the writers we love, and I so look forward to discovering and sharing new ideas with my Creative Writing students this summer!

Join Leanne this summer. Creative Writing is a one-week, online class from June 17-21. Learn more about the course and apply today! Financial aid is available.