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The Writhing Society meets to practice and discuss the techniques of constrained writing. We practice the methods invented by ourselves and by other writers, artists, musicians, and mathematicians.

This month, we will experiment with the Greco-Latin Bisquare, also known as the Euler Square. We will write a story in three stages or chapters with three characters. Each character begins wearing a garment and holding an object. The characters then (willingly and knowingly or not) exchange their garments and objects twice so that each character has a chance at each. Georges Perec structured his novel Life: A User’s Manual using a 10x10 grid (along with other constraints), but ours will be 3x3. And don’t worry: we will provide a grid for you to follow.

To prepare, you can think of three characters and their objects and garments. Instead of developing rich, complex characters at this stage, you can think of characters from literature or folk tales, archetypes, or generic roles like “middle manager,” “artist,” “talking dog.” During the Writhing session, we will spend time arranging and discussing, before we compose our stories.

This workshop will take place online via Zoom. Please RSVP to receive the Zoom link prior to the event. This is a community writing workshop and attendees are encouraged to share the work they create during the session. Please arrive on time and be prepared to introduce yourself by audio or in the chat. The virtual room opens 10 minutes before 2, and the virtual doors close at 2:10.

If you registered and can no longer attend, please cancel your registration using the link on your confirmation email or by emailing [email protected].

The Writhing Society, founded by writers Tom La Farge and Wendy Walker, was born and grew in the Proteus Gowanus Interdisciplinary Gallery in Brooklyn. We're now happy to have found a home at Brooklyn Public Library.

The Writhing Society combines a class with a salon. In a two-hour session, you can expect about a half-hour that includes introductions, explanations, questions, and warm-up; an hour or so of silent writing; and about a half-hour to share work aloud.

This is nothing like a typical writing workshop. This is a process-oriented workshop for people who are interested in potentiality, possibility, and the unexpected. We experiment by imposing specific and arbitrary rules, known as constraints. Some workshop sessions involve the intermingling of at least two texts — yours and another's or others'.

We practice the experiments in a relaxed, supportive, playful — yet not undisciplined — atmosphere, and we welcome new members. No prior knowledge of constrained writing is required. 

Given that entrenched discourses of dominance — from corporate-speak to psychobabble — give rise to countless forms of normalized expression described as or accepted as “free”, composing with constraints can provide a salutary escape, both from such forms and from the everyday patterns to which your brain subscribes. At the very least, the practice yields fresh ideas and serves as an aid to creativity.

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