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Sara Michas-Martin’s class was the pinnacle of my creative writing courses as a Stanford undergrad. She was one of the most effective and thoughtful teachers under whom I had the privilege of studying. I was struck by her keen eye for each student’s unique talents and needs, her insight and patience with my own writing, and her ability to foster a meaningful writing community. If I could have another opportunity to study under her, I would.
— Supriya Misra
Sara is the best writing teacher that I’ve had the pleasure to work with. Smart and insightful, with many suggestions and notes, plus her kind counsel, helped me produce the highest level of writing I’ve ever done. She is highly recommended.
— Doug Close
Sara was an excellent teacher, supporter, and resource. Perhaps most significantly, as my advisor at Goddard, Sara recognized I was creatively thwarted by my own expectations for my work, and she encouraged me to relax and experiment, to “let go.” This intervention was a great gift of that semester and actually of my writing life. In the years since, I’ve tried to bring the same spirit of experimentation and discovery to my own students.
— Lauren Russell
Working with Sara Michas-Martin was a gift; without her guidance and mentorship, I doubt my first novel would have seen publication. Through diligent reading and insightful criticism, she helped me transform the manuscript from a pile of prosaic rubble to a story someone might actually want to read. I feel profoundly lucky to have studied with her, and would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to do the same.
— Josh Amses
I have worked with Sara in both group and one-on-one settings and found her to be a warm and insightful teacher and a supportive editor. She has a talent for working with writers at any stage of the process. She can hone in on the emerging strengths of early-stage work and find its true emotional center. For those further along in the process, she has a poet’s eye for word choice and image and can help a writer sharpen his or her work until it sings. Best of all, she is a kind and approachable person who makes the process fun.
— Marion Wyce
Sara Michas-Martin read the first draft of my novel “Children Left Breathing.” She sent me an eleven-page letter detailing the strengths as well as areas to improve, including comments on point of view and structure, plot considerations and general editing suggestions. She included copies of several articles from books on craft that were invaluable in helping me address some of the shortcomings. She added margin notes throughout the text to guide me. In offering suggestions, she was very respectful of my vision for the story, suggesting but never prescribing. Her creative approach empowered me to move forward with edits in a way that enabled me to tell the story in my own unique voice. A year later, I still return to her notes and find clues for the best way to proceed. She is an excellent teacher, as well as a talented poet. I was fortunate to work with her and look forward to working with her again.
— Jeanne Althouse


I believe curiosity is the imagination’s foremost catalyst, and that any creative path begins with listening. As a teacher of writing I aim to help students find the stillness necessary to hear their own voices and questions. Writing requires discipline, humility and compassion, but also a willingness to experiment, to notice, to be present with where we are. I encourage students to approach writing in the spirit of play, to push themselves into unknown territory, and to stay there, long enough to honor the mind’s impulse to seek connectivity.


Upcoming Courses:

Stanford Continuing Studies
Extreme Draft Makeover (multi-genre)
Saturdays, August 11 and August 18
10:00 am – 4:00 pm 1 unit

You have a promising rough draft in fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry. You’re excited about what you've created on the page, but there’s more work to do because rarely is revision simply a matter of tuning up and tweaking. Often a text finds its true destination in the revision stage, but where do you begin? And how do you tap that initial inspiration again? What does it mean to write a fully realized draft?

The aim of this class is to give you the resources to approach revision as a process: systematically, confidently and joyfully. In our first meeting we move step by step through guided writing exercises that will help our drafts achieve depth, clarity and vision. We will experiment with structure, stronger or alternate beginnings, delving deeper into character, and we’ll discover windows in our texts that invite new scenes or promising detours.  In our second meeting, we will submit our revisions and offer each other detailed feedback in a supportive workshop setting. This class will help students move closer to a fully realized draft, as well as give them the confidence to write better stories and poems in any stage of the process.

Stanford Continuing Studies
Poetry of Presence
10-week Online Course
Beginning September 24th, 2018

“Poetry calls us to pause. There is so much we overlook, while the abundance around us continues to shimmer, on its own”—Naomi Shihab Nye

All good poems have the power to still the frame and cultivate a presence of mind. But how?  And how as writers do we find the stillness to write our most evocative texts? In this class we hone our observational faculties, utilizing short meditations, breath work or other aspects of mindfulness practice to tap inspiration from our everyday lives in the spirit of poets like Neruda who wrote startling poems about common objects, or Basho, the haiku master, who transformed concise perceptions of the natural world into an understanding of interior life.

Throughout the quarter we look at how contemporary authors like Matthew Rohrer, Rachel Zucker and Major Jackson invite readers to actively notice and participate in the meaning of a poem. We identify and develop an understanding of essential craft techniques such as musicality and form used to create an animated experience. Through weekly companion assignments, whether it be writing an abecedarian or experimenting with found language, students forge new pathways toward innovation in the generative stage and will have the opportunity to submit at least three poems for supportive feedback in the workshop. Open to all writers interested in poetry, process and serious play!

Independent Studies

I occasionally work with private students for one-on-one study when my schedule permits. In the past I have worked with students (in all genres) either on book-length projects, short packets or created individualized tutorials tailored to a student’s interests and writing goals. Together we set the parameters of the study and meet regularly via Skype, phone or in person to discuss your work and progress. If you are interested in working together, please be in touch using the "contact" section of this website. Please include details about your project or learning goals in your email and if I'm not able to accommodate you I will be happy to recommend other opportunities.


Stanford Continuing Studies
Writing Toward Mindfulness: A Creative Journey

Thursdays, Beginning January 19
6:00 pm – 9:00 pm 2 units
Meets 5 times

Author Laraine Herring says: “When the writing is going well, notice, smile softly, and carry on. When the writing isn’t going so well, notice, smile softly, and carry on.” As Herring suggests, the dynamic activity of writing—the flow, the frustration—is ongoing. In this course, we will bring our attention to the present moment and loosen our hold on expected outcomes. Whether you are a seasoned writer, or just beginning to write, we will take a step back from the critical to uplift our approach to the creative process, especially in the generative stage. Beginning with the simple goal of responding to daily prompts, you will explore ways to write more freely, more patiently, and with greater awareness. Class sessions will be devoted to sharing from our writing experiments and discussing readings by authors including Dinty Moore, Jane Hirshfield, and Harryette Mullen that will guide our discussion of what it means to “write mindfully.” Come prepared to write something new and unexpected every day. Keep in mind this course is intended to be more “writing lab” than “fix-it workshop,” so while we’ll share very rough drafts, feedback will be offered with a light touch.

Lit Fest Conference, Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop
Muse in the Museum: Writing and Visual Art (craft seminar)

To explore the fertile relationship between language and image, we begin by asking how poets and writers in the past have gleaned significant inspiration through the direct engagement of visual art. How can we harness the impact of art, an experience that affects the viewer “all at once,” to initiate or enliven our own work? Beyond the exercise of responding to the work itself, what can visual artists teach us about creative vision and process? Sara Michas-Martin holds a BFA in visual art as well as an MFA. She’ll share what she has found to be the most useful and unlikely strategies applicable to the writer’s craft. Art enthusiasts and writers of all persuasions welcome! 

Lit Fest Conference, Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop
Titles That Don’t Suck (craft seminar)

Here’s the thing, titles matter. Chances are your titles could be doing more work for you. Often we overreach, choose a title that gives away our theme, or choose a title that is benign, if not random. But beyond the obvious or clever, titles can shade a text, steer the reader toward nuance, provide subtle context or add a necessary depth or tension. Together we will gather ideas from a series of texts that illustrate the dynamic and effective use of titles. Bring a piece of writing with a crappy title and be prepared to flex your title-making machine!

Lit Fest Conference, Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop
Savvy Sentences: How to Mean More Than You Say (craft seminar)

Author Peter Elbow says, “As a writer you must embed energy in the sentence—coil the spring, set the trap!” Looking to published work, we’ll investigate different ways authors utilize cadence, variation, grammatical structures, and length in their sentences to expressively communicate meaning beyond what is literally stated. Writers of all genres will leave with a better understanding of how to harness the rhythmic power of phrasing to communicate tone, pace, and atmosphere, and you just might leave having written something unexpected.

Stanford University Continuing Studies
Writing the Moment (poetry workshop)
10 Weeks

Robert Lowell said, “Poetry is not the record of an event: it is an event.” In this course, we will learn what makes a poem come alive, how a poem is made, and how one begins to write one. Emphasis will be placed on getting started, developing ideas, and learning how to shape a poem once it has made it on the page. In the spirit of exploration, weekly creative assignments and spontaneous writing prompts will lead to the creation of original poems submitted by students for supportive group discussion. Although our primary focus will be student writing, we will also consider the work of contemporary authors, including Robert Hass, Li-Young Lee, and Sharon Olds, in order to increase our understanding of the tools and resources available to us. This course is suitable for those who are new to poetry, as well as for experienced writers looking to experiment with diverse approaches to their writing.

Stanford University Continuing Studies
Creative Nonfiction: Developing our Practice
10 Weeks (Online)
Read Syllabus HERE

This course is built on the firm belief that in writing, inspiration, clarity, and insight happen more readily in the process than the preparation. In this course, we’ll seek to establish a regular writing practice fueled by the desire to question, reflect, and know—hallmarks of the creative nonfiction genre. We will read work by such writers as BK Loren, Sarah Manguso, and Paul Broks, who explore themes they relate to personally—illness, the science behind selfhood, nature, and the sublime. Additionally, students will receive writing prompts to help incite their own meaningful, daily investigations. From there we will focus on transforming the strands and stories emerging from our daily writing into shapely creative nonfiction. Students will have the option to pursue their own writing explorations or to complete specific assignments designed to deepen material and gain expertise in technical aspects such as dialogue and scene. The final weeks will be devoted to workshop, in which every student will receive supportive feedback on a longer draft.