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Meet Michelle LaFrance + Join her for a Writing Workshop!

Hill Center is thrilled to welcome Dr. Michelle LaFrance back to Hill Center for writing workshops! Her first one will be Saturday, June 11th. Read below for more dates and details!

I got the chance to ask Dr. LaFrance a few questions leading up to her first workshop back at Hill Center.

“There’s a real spirit of “in it togetherness” that comes of sharing our words, believing in our ideas, and encouraging/supporting one another.”

-Dr. Michelle LaFrance
Hill Center Writing Instructor

About Dr. LaFrance:

Michelle LaFrance (Ph.D., University of Washington, 2009) is a feminist critical ethnographer, who teaches courses on community writing, feminist methodologies, writing studies, and critical pedagogy. Michelle has published on institutional ethnography, the materialities of academic labor, e-portfolios, e-research, and writing center pedagogy. Her current work has her participating in urban communities, studying discourses of volunteerism and belonging, and treating the evolution of research practice and sensibilities in Writing Studies.

In 2021, Dr. LaFrance was awarded the College Composition and Communication Research Impact award for her book, Institutional Ethnography: A Theory of Practice for Writing Studies Researchers (USUP 2019). This book was also awarded “Honorable Mention” in the 2021 Best Book category from the International Writing Across the Curriculum Association.

Dr. LaFrance is currently an Associate Professor at George Mason University for Writing and Rhetoric: Feminist research/feminist rhetoric, creative nonfiction, community writing, writing across the curriculum/in the disciplines, ethnography, writing program administration and pedagogy.

What do you enjoy most about workshopping with fellow writers?

I love the vibe of creativity, inspiration, aspiration, newness, and sensitivity/vulnerability that I share when workshopping with fellow writers. .  . there’s a real spirit of “in it togetherness” that comes of sharing our words, believing in our ideas, and encouraging/supporting one another. It’s a very special and unique feeling among writers.   

What would you say to someone who wants to write, but doesn’t know how to get started?

Agree with yourself that is a “play” session, just to see what wants to come out and meet you. Set a timer for five minutes and just let whatever comes to mind flow without letting the inner critic or worry about grammar/punctuation or perfection get in the way. Keep your pen moving and keep outing words on the page. What voices or experiences or characters or scenes/events want to speak? As you write, embrace letting the words flow.

Then, when the timer goes off, repeat, without going back to the first piece of writing. After two or three sessions, go back and underline the passages that feel ripe with meaning, purpose, or interest for you. What more do you have to say there? Where can you unpack, dig deeper, or explore even more. Start there the next time you sit down to write—hopefully the very next day. Revisions always come much later. The first step is to just start getting your words out there.       

Any tips for writer’s block?

My biggest tip is to play. . . that is, give yourself permission to write the worst prose ever, even if it is ugly, silly, thin, stupid—whatever descriptive your inner critic is giving you. At some point, those crappy ideas will lead to something better. But you cannot keep working on something that isn’t on the page yet. Trust that this is the process all writers go through. Yes. ALL writers.

What’s your favorite style of writing? 

I am most captivated by earnest and honest writing, be it memoir, the personal-academic essay, or longform journalism. Especially if the prose is creative and evocative, I’m all in!


Michelle LaFrance will be teaching the following workshops at Hill Center, and the list will keep growing. See you soon, writers!

Storytelling: A Workshop in Creative Nonfiction: Saturday, June 11, 1:00pm-4:00pm

Writing Your Life: A Workshop: Saturday, August 6, 1:00pm-4:00pm

Storytelling: A Workshop in Creative Nonfiction: Saturday, October 22, 1:00pm-4:00pm

Haviland is the Programming Coordinator at Hill Center. She has been working at Hill Center since September 2021.

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