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How about those Resolutions?

how to form a habit infographic

Here are mine: My non-writing related New Year’s resolutions are: to drink 8-10 glasses of water a day, to not eat after 8pm and to do pilates on Fridays. So far I have been doing so/so with them. Sometimes I mess up. (Actually ALL of the time) Do you remember that one episode from the Office where Pam makes everyone keep track of their New Year’s resolutions on a wheel and everybody tries to find creative ways to avoid her because everyone gave up on theirs?  This is so me.

The good news is you can make and remake New Years’ resolutions any time of the year.  In June of 2014 I made my most successful resolution to date and I made it mid-year.


I resolved to get invited to feature at more readings.  


It seemed after years of working several simultaneous teaching jobs at local colleges and universities, working with 90 students in a semester, I was too busy to participate in the burgeoning literary scene around me. When I finally was able to poke my head above water, I applied once or twice a year to be a “featured reader” at various readings and festivals and everybody I asked said no to me. This happened to me for years and eventually I gave up. It was quite demoralizing.

While drinking coffee in the morning on a random day in June, I made a pact with myself. I resolved to be featured at or host a reading every month for the next 12 months.  I was going to try harder. I would treat it like a job. I was going to put myself out there and if nobody asked me or allowed me to read in their reading series, I would host my own. I made a promise to myself to read or host every month for the entire year. 

I believe I’ve hosted four Write from the Gut! readings during that time and three Greek American Writers’ Nights, and three At The Inkwells in San Francisco.  
From summer 2014 until now, I was the featured reader at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York. Locally, I was a featured reader at Passages on the Lake at the Terrace Room in Oakland, at Frank Bette Center for the Arts in Alameda, Get Lit, Generations in Berkeley, Why There Are Words in Sausalito, Crows in the Stork’s Nest in Oakland, Liminal in Oakland, Rolling Writers in San Francisco. A few of these were things I initiated. A few of the curators asked me on their own. 
Last May, I was accepted to be one of 25 storytellers to tweet a story live to viewers around the world as part of the Twitter Fiction Festival. It was so much fun. 
Also in 2015 I was approached by Monique Antonette Lewis, founder of At the Inkwell in New York, who asked me to be her San Francisco curator. I accepted. Our next At the Inkwell is coming up this coming Monday at Alley Cat Books in the Mission. 

I’m reading as a featured reader next month at two series—Deviance, A Feminist Showcase at Liminal, and Lyrics and Dirges at Pegasus Books in Berkeley.

Achievement unlocked!

I may have failed at all my other resolutions, but that one stuck and it wasn’t even made in January. It just goes to show you that you can make New Year’s resolutions any time. 
So, what are your Creative Writing goals for 2016? My advice is to pick one and work on it every month a little bit at a time and keep it playful. Set small goals for yourself that are consistent.  For me, getting into all those readings was symbolic. It was a way I could be accepted when in the past I had been excluded.  Achieving this acceptance in the literary community at large helped me let something go—a fiction that I didn’t even realize I was telling myself. I was harboring a belief that maybe there was something wrong with me. Maybe everybody knew it except for me. Maybe I didn’t deserve to be included. I was letting my past limit present and predict my future.  Now, when I go to arts events, I move  through the crowd with a bit more swagger because I know that I have something to offer. I built my circle around myself from the supportive people I found along the way here and there, and I tried to ignore the exclusives, the copycats and the Debbie Downers, and the haters. 
This year my New Year’s resolution is to Make Art Sustainable. 

I am making it broad so I have the most chance of success.  There are many ways this can happen. 

I resolve to try to make creative writing sustainable for myself, for the teachers who work for SF Creative Writing Institute, for our clients, and for the community of artists in the Bay Area, and for the underserved. I know this is hard. I know that everything we are doing is an experiment and that it may not work. I have seen the best collaborations come to an end due to financial constraints. I know it may not work. But I hope that it does.

We’ve got a great lineup of classes and programming this Winter and forming in Spring. I am so thrilled to work with Hollie Hardy and Nick Mamatas who are both gems and are impressive in their own right.

SF Creative Writing Institute is committed to paying fair wages to our teachers so that we can keep more writers in the Bay Area. When you sign up for one of our classes, you are doing the good work of keeping a writer—who is a seasoned professor, and/or professional editor fed.  If for any reason we are not able to pay a fair wage, I’ve told the teachers, please tell me and we will disband.  (Nick Mamatas promised to tell me this over roast beef and mashed potatoes at Lefty O’Doul’s in November, so he can hold me accountable.) I have no assurance that we will actually sustain ourselves. But, I know we are on the right track.

When you enroll in one of our classes, you are also plugging into a network of emerging and established literary talent (both in our teachers and students). You are aligning yourself with people-in-the-know who can help to sustain you on your creative journey.  

We strive to be a supportive, nurturing, yet challenging environment where anyone can belong in order to create and craft their writing. 

Thank you for reading, gentle writer. Good luck to you this year.

Welcome to 2016!

Alexandra Kostoulas,
Founder & Executive Director
SF Creative Writing Institute


Good News for Fabulist Fiction Instructor, Nick Mamatas

Nick Mamatas’s most recent book, THE LAST WEEKEND,

got rave reviews in the San

Nick Mamatas Writefromthegut 9
Nick Mamatas reading at Write From the Gut! #9 Photo by: Zoe Christopher

Francisco Chronicle. The reviewer compared his work to  Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson,  H.P. Lovecraft, Charles Bukowski, Henry Miller, John Fante.

Nick Mamatas has also been short-listed along with co-editor Masumi Washington for a This is Horror Award for their anthology, Hanzai Japan: Fantastical, Futuristic Stories of Crime From and About Japan.
Read the review in the SF Chronicle.
Grab your copy of THE LAST WEEKEND.

Good News for Sunday Poetry Workshop Instructor,

Hollie Hardy

Hollie Hardy reading from Write from the Gut #9! Photo: Zoe Christopher

We’ve just learned that Hollie Hardy’s book HOW TO TAKE A BULLET, AND OTHER SURVIVAL POEMS has won the annual Poetry Center Book Award at San Francisco State University!


From their website: The Poetry Center Book Award has been presented annually since 1980 by The Poetry Center, San Francisco State University, to a single outstanding book of poetry published in the previous year. The Poetry Center Book Award carries a cash prize and an invitation to read, along with the award judge, at The Poetry Center in San Francisco.


Good News for San Francisco Creative Writing Institute

We got our first grant!
We have been offered to take over the programing for Central Market Now at SAFEhouse Arts and we said yes! We will start in April.
Stay tuned for more info and how you can get involved!

Winter 2016 Classes Start Next Week

To learn more about a class, or  to sign up, click on the pictures or sign up button


Jack Grapes’ Method Writing Program

Instructor: Alexandra Kostoulas


Jan 28-Mar 17, 2016 * 6:00-9:00pm
8 Sessions
Cost: $425
Fun fact: In April, Alexandra will have been teaching this class for four years. It has moved from various locations to its new home at SF Creative Writing Institute which she founded in April, 2015. This year marks her 13th year of teaching in total. She has taught at Academy of Art University, Golden Gate University, Berkeley City College, and elsewhere.
Students of Method Writing range from professional writers to beginners to everything in between. Space is limited. Still a few seats left.

Sunday Poetry Workshop

Instructor: Hollie Hardy
Jan 31-Mar 20, 2016 * 2:00-5:00 pm
8 Sessions
Cost: $395
Fun Fact: This is the second time we are offering this inspiring class. Hollie Hardy is an amazing and beloved professor at Berkeley City College and San Francisco State University. She has an MFA in poetry from SFSU.  Her reading series Saturday Night Special in the East Bay has a huge following.  This class is filling up fast. Reserve your space before it fills!


Fabulist Fiction

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Mysteries, Young Adult, Magical Realism, Chick Lit & More.

Instructor: Nick Mamatas
Feb 20-Mar 26, 2016 * 2:00-5:00pm
6 Sessions
Cost: $395
Fun Fact: Nick Mamatas works by day as an editor at Viz Media. a Japanese-American manga, anime and entertainment company located in the Twitter building in San Francisco. He has published over 100 short stories and seven novels. One of his main editorial clients at Viz media is Hayao Miyazaki. He is the president of the Mystery Writers of America NorCal chapter. There are still a few spaces left in Nick’s class. You can reserve your spot now



At The Inkwell: Genre NightUnknown
Monday, January 25, 2016.
Alley Cat Books. 3036 24th St
San Francisco, California 94110
NICK MAMATAS                                                        12369104_1034613033268321_5154604624810202757_n
Saturday Night Special,
Saturday January 30, 2016

an East Bay open mic.

3218 Adeline St, Berkeley, California 94703

Features: Lisa Martinovic and Freddy Gutierrez

First come first served. Sign-up starts at 7pm and closes when it fills up or when the reading starts, so get there early if you want to read! (Note: Sometimes the list is full by 7:03pm)

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Which is why you need the tiniest bit of bravery. People get scared when you try to do something, especially when it looks like you are succeeding.  People do not get scared when you’re failing. It calms them.

—Mindy Kaling

Creativity Takes Courage
—Henri Matisse

5 thoughts on “How about those Resolutions?

  1. […] Here are mine: My non-writing related New Year’s resolutions are: to drink 8-10 glasses of water a day, to not eat after 8pm and to do pilates on Fridays. So far I have been doing so/so with them. Sometimes I mess up. (Actually ALL of the time) Do you remember that one episode from the Office where Pam makes everyone keep track of their New Year’s resolutions on a wheel and everybody tries to find creative ways to avoid her because everyone gave up on theirs?  This is so me. [READ MORE] […]

  2. I resolved to not make any resolutions this year. 🙂 No, basically, I just told myself to keep on with what I was already trying to do: eat better, jog/walk a few times a week, and attempt to increase my yoga practice from 5 days a week to 7. Oh and find a job! (haven’t found a job yet)

  3. Congratulations!
    My only resolution for 2016 is to raise at least $500 for the Alzheimer’s Walk in my city in November.

    However, I also decided to make 2016 the Year of Kindness, by making a conscious effort to practice more kindness, to loved ones and strangers alike. While it may not necessarily be a quantifiable goal, I regularly look for ways to practice kindness while I am out and about, instead of only being absorbed in my own wants and needs. I’d call that a success so far 🙂

  4. Year of kindness! That’s a great one. 🙂 Bravo.

  5. Thanks for sharing. I hope you find one. Ugh…5-7 days a week. I don’t know how you do it. Good for you.

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