Best. Syllabus. Ever.

March 19, 2015 § 6 Comments

tumblr_ngzqkl2VPm1t3i99fo4_1280In a recent residency at Atlantic Center for the Arts (great place, check it out!), our workshop leader had us do a daily exercise from cartoonist Lynda Barry: Divide the paper into four sections, label them Did, Saw, Heard and leave one open for a picture. In each quadrant, note down things we did, saw, and heard – and draw a picture.

It’s an exercise in observation, it’s fun, it’s a good free-write to get started on the page, and after about day three I stopped worrying about the quality of my drawing.

The exercise comes from Lynda Barry’s actual syllabus for her class at the University of Wisconsin, a nonfiction-driven cartooning class. And Barry’s whole syllabus, in more or less the form in which she issued it to her students, is also available as a book. Check out some selections from Syllabus over at Open Culture – maybe there’s an exercise you’d like to do, with or without a class.

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Allison K Williams is Brevity’s Social Media Editor. 

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