When did you first feel like a writer?
On the inside, I’ve never felt like anything other than a writer. My feelings of self-worth and awe have always been bound up in the act of putting experience into words. When I got to college and started having things accepted into literary reviews, winning a few awards and grants, then getting into the Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa, I started to feel validated from the outside as well. But I think it’s dangerous to put too much stock in other people’s approval, which is inevitably based largely on what one teacher of mine called “a coincidence of taste.” We all have our favorite stories of artists who were unfairly neglected. Any of us could be one of them.
What is your teaching philosophy?
Since I believe writing is a combination of craft and inspiration, I try to make room for both of those processes in my teaching. On the craft side, I like to use modeling (e.g., imitations), formal challenges (e.g., “Write a story from the point of view of a character who’s just committed murder. Don’t mention the murder”), critique (often most valuable for the one doing the critiquing instead of the one receiving it), and revision. As for inspiration, though I’d be lying if I said I think it can be taught, exactly, I do believe in being more of a coach than a conventional teacher. I like to help my students build the mental muscles they’ll need to use ideas when they strike by having them keep notebooks, do freewriting, and follow their curiosity and hard-won whims.
If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be and why?

One of my favorite novels is James Agee’s A Death in the Family. It’s told largely in the voice of a six-year-old boy named Rufus. Agee writes so convincingly of this boy that he makes me wish I could talk to him—just to let him know that everything’s going to be okay. I think if you can do that for readers—get us so emotionally involved you yearn to change the lives of the people in the story—you can be satisfied that you’ve written something that matters.


Brady Earnhart holds an MFA from the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa and a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. He has taught poetry and fiction writing, composition, and literature to students of all ages for over twenty years and has released four critically lauded albums of original songs.


“It was helpful that he encouraged us to provide an example for every comment we made when workshopping. In that way, we learned not only to identify pieces of writing we liked, but also how to accomplish it in our own writing.”

“He had a gentle style.”

“I enjoyed this class. I felt he was generally fair and kind. Thanks to my fellow students and Brady’s good teachingI have settled well into fiction writing though it was hard at first.”

“He tried very hard to get us to think in new ways and develop a style that was fresh and unique. He succeeded in that.”