Directed Writing vs Independent Study

Here’s ONE personal, subjective and entirely unauthorized take on this. So, there are two different options, 809: Directed Writing and 899: Special Study or Independent Study.

809 – Directed Writing: you are working just on your writing project (a novel, say, or a collection of shorter pieces), and checking in with your prof at whatever frequency you two decided. The frequency is variable from prof to prof, but expect to meet about once a month. You can discuss ahead of time with them what your goals are—do you want to refine your work, or generate more, or focus on one particular aspect like voice or thematic development or whatever. DW doesn’t (necessarily) involve any outside reading. You can take DW for credit up to 3 times.

899: Special Study (or Independent Study): This is where you’ll want to design a reading list. For an IS I did with a prof in the Translation space, I came in with a plan drafted already for the things I wanted to study/explore. My prof helped me fine-tune it, and gave me sanity checks on an on-going basis. So depending on where you are in your process—if there’s a topic you want to explore, if there are readings you have in mind—your prof will help you develop your reading list. You can take IS up to 2 times for credit.

If you think you want to do one of these with a prof, email them and set up a time to chat. Be forthright about what you’re looking for (including if you’re not sure). It’s okay to ask questions like: how often will we meet; what if I get overwhelmed; what if I change my focus midway; what kind of feedback do you give and what kind of feedback do you not give. Do your own homework first: look at their author pages online to learn more about their writing, for example.