Creative-Writing Peer Workshops

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The English Department’s peer-led creative writing workshops are non-credit workshops led by fellow undergraduates who are experienced writers. They are a great way to try out a new genre, polish writing you want to use to apply to a for-credit class, and find a supportive community that can help you reach your own writing goals.  All workshops meet weekly starting in the second week of classes.  The workshops are described below and fill on a first-come first-serve basis. If you have any questions, contact Leila Mansouri at

All students who sign up by January 21 will be contacted on January 22 with information about the workshop(s) they have joined. After that, sign-ups will continue on a rolling basis, space permitting, through January 29.

The English Department will also be hosting weekly group writing hours on Tuesdays from 12:30 to 2:30 in HFA A15, where students in creative writing courses and peer workshops can get together to write, share work, talk about writing, and eat snacks. If you’re interested in hosting additional group writing hours, please get in touch with Leila Mansouri at the email above.

Monica Martinez — Poetry as Self-Expression

Tuesday 2:30 – 3:30

Monica MartinezThis workshop is for those who wish to write poetry not only to learn more of the art of poetry itself but also to investigate poetic self-expression. In this workshop, we will focus on writing exercises, free writes, and collaborations that encourage exploration of new forms and subjects. We’ll also share works-in-progress, focusing on what makes each piece unique. This workshop is especially well-suited for beginners who are new to workshops and interested in learning more about how poetic self-expression can enrich your life, but all are welcome. Above all, I want our workshop to be a space of open mindedness, as we all come from different walks of life and share our writing with one another.

I am a junior English major and Creative Writing minor that spends most my time writing new poetry, reviewing and sharing old works, and collaborating on creative work with friends. I’ve written pieces in a variety of creative genres, ranging from poetry, short stories, world building, to playwrighting, but poetry has always been dearest to my heart. I am a local Bay Area girl, born in Vallejo and raised in Richmond, and understand the difficulties of living in poor and rough situations. Poetry has always allowed me a way out to expel whatever I have pent up inside and would rather bottle them away. I’ve been writing poetry in journals since the 4th grade – and since then I have evolved from margin scribbling, to filled personal notebook and journals, to fully crafted chapbooks that I intend on publishing, (as well as a couple plays and short stories). I look forward to learning and exploring alongside the participants in my workshop.

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Marley Castillo — Hollywood Screenwriting

Thursday 2-3:30

Marley CastilloIf you’ve ever wanted to work in Hollywood, write a screenplay, or just peek behind the curtain to see how movies are structured, then come join us! This is not a workshop about film theory. We will be learning the practical craft of Hollywood screenwriting and, for anyone who would like a summer internship at a studio or production company, we will learn how to develop the kinds of skills Hollywood studios expect to see on resumes. We’ll develop familiarity with 8-sequence/3-act structure, watch and break down a few films together, practice writing coverage, discuss the process of taking a film from submission to final cut, and write our own screenplays. We’ll also host a few guest speakers from the industry. By the end of our time together, every workshop member should have a finished draft of an original screenplay.

Before coming to Berkeley, I worked as a creative executive at a major Hollywood studio. There I managed the story department and was in charge of hiring interns. I also worked on movies from Spy Kids to The Fighter and wrote coverage for (literally) thousands of scripts! I hold a certificate in screenwriting from New York Film Academy and have written several screenplays that will never be seen (or read). I’m currently a senior English major at Cal.

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Balark Mallik — The Short Short Story

Monday 1-2

Balark Mallik“Short fiction [is] targeted – a hand grenades of ideas”― Paolo Bacigalupi.

Short fiction is a key building block for other types of writing. One can always expand it to a longer work. To that end, this workshop will focus on the short short story. Learn to write flash fiction at 1000 words or less. Or fit a twitter-fiction in 140 characters! We’ll work together at finding the heart of the story: its emotional core. Thinking critically about other people’s writing helps develop one’s own as well, so I look forward to building a creative space with you all. All levels of writing experience welcome.

I’m a senior History major and Creative writing minor, with a passion for writing that thrums in every vein. Apart from writing my History Thesis, I am taking a creative writing class taught by Joyce Carol Oates and Swimming (as a graduating senior, a swimming class is what really floats my boat, it seems!). I have written stories in science fiction and children’s literature, and am working on a fictionalized adaptation of a personal essay in the genre of magic realism. I have also written the screenplay for, and am otherwise producing, a series of stop-motion animated videos. I have really loved the writing classes I’ve taken at Cal so far—the best part of the experience was the chance to read others’ writing and give creative feedback.

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