In Order to Be Totally Free: Teaching via the Writing Constraint

120C, Pennsylvania Convention Center, 100 Level
Saturday, March 26, 2022
3:20 pm to 4:35 pm


Oulipo writer Georges Perec says, “I set myself rules in order to be totally free.” From word limits to time limits, writing with constraints can be a powerful tool when teaching writers to expand their first-draft strategies as well as further hone their craft through imposed limitations. In this panel, five instructors discuss what specific rule-based exercises they employ in the writing classroom and how those constraining prompts allow students to find greater freedoms in their own work.

Outline & Supplemental Documents

Event Outline: Outline_-_In_Order_to_be_Totally_Free.pdf



Alexander Lumans was awarded a 2018 NEA Grant in Prose. He was the Spring 2014 Philip Roth Resident at Bucknell, and he received a fellowship to the 2015 Arctic Circle Residency. He teaches at the University of Colorado Denver and at Lighthouse Writers Workshop.

Joanna Luloff is the author of the short story collection The Beach at Galle Road and the novel Remind Me Again What Happened. She is an associate professor at the University of Colorado Denver where she edits fiction and nonfiction for the journal Copper Nickel.

Jane Wong is the author of How to Not Be Afraid of Everything and Overpour. She is an associate professor of creative writing at Western Washington University.

Hasanthika Sirisena's essays and stories have appeared in Electric LiteratureMichigan Quarterly ReviewEpoch, and Narrative. She is a recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writers' Award and the 2015 Juniper Prize for Fiction. Her essay collection Dark Tourist will be released December 2021.

Amie Whittemore


February 7–10, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Convention Center