“For those asking about writing, motivation, blocks: check out The Story Course. Smart, encouraging, practical.”
“Beautifully imagined and crafted, this may well be the most inspiring, practical guide forwriters ever created. It combines a wise, easy approach to 21st century technology with the heart and soul of a writer. I’m amazed at what The Story Course makes possible.”
“The course is brilliantly constructed, interesting, and varied. I loved the writing exercises and,what’s more, I actually did them. Even though I was super busy with work, I was writing and I felt challenged and alive. Happy.”
“This transformed how I approach writing. I love where it takes me. You encourage individual creativity and offer the tools to go forward.”
They’re the same thing! Our writing school started in 2011 with one downloadable course called Story Is a State of Mind. This program holds the heart of what I teach. Story Is a State of Mind has now evolved into a larger community—a school—and writers can advance their study by taking two more writing programs (The Story Intensive and The Story Workshop). All three programs are guided by the same foundation course. That foundation course is now called The Story Course.
I am especially passionate about reading, writing and teaching short fiction, and I created The Story Course with that focus, it’s true. But this program will teach you how to write with immediacy, mindfulness, specificity, and integrity. You will learn how to be present as you write, how to be intimate with writing itself. You’re going to learn how to transfer an experience to a reader—and this is important for writers working in all genres. I’m working on a novel now, and I’m still using all of these techniques.
This is not a typical online writing course: it is an über-flexible, all-inclusive digital writing experience. That means you get to make your own schedule. As soon as you register and pay for the program, all of the video lectures, audio lessons, readings, exercises, and assignments will be made available to you right away. At that point you will also be given access to the online classroom and the private discussion group, where conversations about the lessons are happening in real time. I will not be presenting live weekly lectures. That’s how I can make this program so affordable and make it available to so many writers around the world at once. I wanted to create the most inspired, valuable, powerful writing course I could imagine, so I recorded my lectures and made my lessons as digitally interactive as I could. And I made sure that you could access them anytime, anywhere.You will have lifelong access to these lessons. There is no expiration date. The classroom is running 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Yes! Twice a year, I offer The Story Intensive—this is a guided semester that takes you through The Story Course with a small group of writers. You get individual attention, deadlines, discussion, and feedback—plus master classes with guest contributors. Space is limited for this program, but you can get on the wait list now—I’ll send you an email when registration opens (that is if registration is currently closed).
The Story Course is broken into seven modules. I designed each module to approach the depth and breadth of a three-hour weekly lecture and workshop, plus an hour or two of homework each week. I wanted it to approximate an eight-week writing course (including a reading week). But this is only a rough guide. One of the major benefits of this course is that you drive it. You set your own deadlines. You can nibble at these lessons a little at a time. You can take a month or two with each lesson. You can even work on the assignments more than once to challenge yourself at different levels as you progress. Or you might decide to block time off in your calendar for a writing retreat, download the whole thing at once, and turn the course into a one or two week writing intensive. It’s all up to you. I would not recommend doing the whole course in less than a week, though. That would probably be too intense, and you want time to practice.
If you experience some technical difficulties with the downloads, the MP3s, or the video, please contact us for tech support.Because this is a self-directed program, I won’t be available for solo support when questions come up for you about your work. I’m not doing much one-on-one coaching anymore—for now, I am focused on writing my new book. However, if you’re looking for more support while you work on The Story Course, consider taking The Story Intensive. You can also consider inviting a writing partner to do it with you. Or you can purchase multiple copies of the program as a writing group, and then share your writing assignments with each other each week. (See next question.)
Why yes! When you register and pay for The Story Course, you’ll be given a password and login so you can access the private web pages for each of the seven course modules. That’s where you will download all of your course materials, listen to the audio instruction, and watch the video lectures. There’s also a private discussion group on Facebook where you can post your comments and share your thoughts and questions about each lesson. You’ll be invited to interact with everyone else who is in the program right now, and join the online discussion.
Well, I’d rather you didn’t. I love this program, and I’ve done everything in my power to make sure it is just right for writers who need support and inspiration. I created it using massive amounts of my heart and energy and life, and I think that’s part of what makes it so special. The thing is, I have faith in integrity and fairness. I generally trust people. So I made The Story Course a price that is accessible and an incredible value. I also pay authors their copyright fee every time someone buys their work, so I ask that you don’t distribute this without paying for it.
In some ways, it isn’t: you will learn and practice the fundamentals of writing scene, dialogue, character, and plot, just like you would in a creative writing MFA or continuing education program at a good college or university. You will also learn how to stay present and focused, and how to write from your heart and not just your head—just like you would learn at a yoga, meditation and writing workshop. The Story Course is like other writing courses in these ways, but not only is it much less expensive than other writing workshops, it’s infinitely more flexible. Once you download it, it becomes your own course. You direct your own study: you can choose when and where you will read and write, and you can choose who to write with (if anyone). I’ve taken the most powerful things I’ve learned from all of the best writing programs I’ve attended—meditation and writing with Natalie Goldberg, one-on-one mentorship at The Banff Centre for the Arts, a full creative writing MFA at the University of British Columbia—and I’ve built an experience that I sincerely hope will transcend what you would find in any writing course elsewhere.
I know. There is nothing more frustrating than fighting with technology. Despite what it might look like, I am not a techy person either. Because I built this program myself, I had to make sure that I understood exactly how it all worked. I’ve made it as simple and straightforward and intuitive as possible, for all users. I even tested it on my mom, who is “not at one with the computer” (her words), to make sure that it’s a smooth, easy process. As long as you have a good high-speed connection, this will work on your computer. You click on the links marked audio to listen, you click on the links that look like videos to watch. You click on the links that say download when you want to download lessons to your computer. I also recommend printing out the lessons so you don’t have to read from the computer screen. The lessons look very pretty, even if you don’t print them in colour. And you should do all of your writing by hand, in a notebook.It all sounds easy because it really is easy! Promise.
First of all, I really don’t think that’s going to happen. I think you’re going to love these lessons, and I think the work you do in this program will revitalize your relationship to writing. If you commit yourself to put your full heart and mind into these assignments, it’s going to change the way you think about your work as a writer. It might even change your life. I mean that. This is a non-refundable investment in your writing. When you make this purchase, you are promising to explore and practice. You’ll be paying for it the way you would pay for a degree, an all-inclusive retreat, a counselling session, an art show, or a ticket on an overnight train. I know that online sales expectations are distinctly pro-refund, and I understand the reason for that. I considered it for this program. But after some thought, I realized that I didn’t feel right about offering a money back guarantee on a creative experience.
Now, that is a sweet question. That person is lucky to have you. Yes, of course. Here is a special order form. When you purchase the course for someone else, we’ll send you the receipt and a beautiful PDF gift certificate with instructions for your giftee to access the program.
Thank you! Nothing would make me happier! Word of mouth is the way I have always promoted my writing classes, and I would be honoured to have you post a link. Click here for information about the Story Is a State of Mind Ambassador Program, so I can thank you for spreading the word.
”There is no course like this in university, I’m certain; it’s priceless. Every time I work on it, I’m so grateful that I have it.”