Writing Classes

  • Announcing Our Newest Writing Class–Create, Connect, Reflect!

    We are so thrilled to share our brand new online writing course! And we are doing something different this time– for the first time, we are offering a writing course that parents can take WITH their kids!

    Create, Connect, Reflect (1)

    This class is a great opportunity to connect with your school-aged/tween child in a creative way, and it’s just in time to help your child brush up on some crucial writing skills in a FUN way before school starts. So many of us want to keep our kids’ skills fresh during the summer months to prevent that dreaded “summer slide” and be back-t0-school ready, but let’s be honest: the break from homework is the BEST, and we don’t want to waste our summer weeks having power struggles and doing boring busywork with our kids.

    Enter Create, Connect, Reflect. The purpose of this course is to help refine your child’s writing skills while also giving YOU some space as a writer (professional author, published freelancer, blogger, or brand-new writer with a notebook full of poetry or short stories, or the mother with a daily/weekly journaling practice) to reflect on your writing journey as well as your parenting experience.

    This self-paced course is great opportunity to connect with your child through writing, give yourself a create outlet and reflect on your writing, and provide your child with some fun and useful exercises to keep their writing skills sharp and polished as summer wraps up. The course is designed for kids approximately ages 8-13, but you can absolutely adapt the exercises for kids who are younger or older. My almost-ten-year-old will be participating as my “assistant,” and there will be some great opportunities for our young writers to connect and interact with each other as well!

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    The best part? There is NO schedule at all. Sign up today, later this week, next week, or mid-August. The class is completely self-paced, which means you don’t have to “show up” at any specific time. You can write in your pajamas and give your kids their assignments to do while you’re desperately trying to get some work done or just enjoy an uninterrupted dining room coffee date with your best friend. Make the class work for you!

    Here’s what you can expect:

    • Week One: Why Do You Write?
    • Week Two: Getting Ready to Write and Setting Yourself Up For Success
    • Week Three: Getting Writer’s Block, Feeling Discouraged, and Taking Care of Yourself
    • Week Four: Telling Your Story
    • Week Five: Telling Your Family’s Story
    • BONUS CONTENT: Focus On Your Craft and Polish Your Writing

    Each week’s lesson will have exercises for each of the three components of the course: an opportunity for you as a mother/writer to create, an assignment for your child to complete independently, and an exercise to be completed with your child. You can start ANY TIME and take the class at your own pace.

    This class is for you if: 

    • You love to write
    • You want to share your joy of writing with your child *without* power struggles
    • You want your child to keep his/her writing skills sharp before school starts *without* spending a fortune on summer school or writing camps
    • You’re looking for a way to connect with your child creatively
    • You want to make time to reflect on your own writing life
    • You’d like to improve your own writing craft with revision and editing strategies, tips for more dynamic personal essays, writing prompts, readings, reflection, and connection with other writers.

    The tween years can be a tough time for communication and connection, and this class offers some fun, engaging writing prompts for you to do with your child including collaborative storytelling and journaling. Sometimes it’s easier to express ourselves on paper, and you may be surprised at the connection that comes simply through WRITING with your child!

    You can get full details for the course and sign up here. Remember, the course is now open so you can enroll any time and be immediately added to the class! I am so excited to write with you and your child this summer!

  • Guest Post by Galit Breen: For the love of writing, technology, and children

    I am so thrilled to share this guest post by our talented friend, Galit Breen, about teaching children about technology! I had the pleasure of hosting a workshop with Galit earlier this summer, and she is THE resource for helping our kids to use technology safely, kindly, and effectively.  I’m going to give her the floor now– listen and learn! ~Stephanie

    For the love of writing, technology, and children

    By Galit Breen

    It’s not a secret that there is so much to consider when it comes to our children’s learning. We want so much for them to:

    • Succeed
    • Be happy
    • Love school
    • Become a learner
    • Upkeep their skills
    • And so much more

    I think at the top of many of our worry lists is that last one. The thought of our children’s skills “sliding” or diminishing makes even the least helicoptering of us cringe just a bit.

    And when we’re faced with the thought of helping our children with this, many of us turn to the knee-jerk reaction of saying, “Do something educational!”

    I know that I have absolutely said this to my children whether it was during summer break, sometime between sandy toes at the beach and bonfires after dark; or winter breaks, after sledding and before movie night; or even just on weekends, when my children have asked for more screen time (again).

    I also know in my heart-of-hearts that none of us really know what that phrase really means or how to gauge if what they’re doing is really and truly flexing their brain muscles!

    I want to share with you a system that we now use at our house that has helped us with all of the above tremendously. It’s our answer to my children’s, “What should I do now-s?” and my own, “How are their skills holding up here-s?” all in one and it is one of my favorite parenting “hacks” ever.

    The basic idea is we pre-create a checklist of agreed upon activities that our children may do.

    The list looks like this:

    Something smart

    Something creative

    Something helpful

    Something kind

    Something healthy

    Something outside

    Something relaxing

    And the key to making this system work for us is this:

    We fill this list with really specific ideas of what our children can do with their time within each category. That “Something Smart” section is where we get to add in ideas of what our children can do to upkeep their skills.

    It’s also where we can incorporate smart ways to use technology as a tool rather than as entertainment. So a part of Something Smart may include typing a story, practicing math facts on an app, or even researching a topic of interest.

    I created a checklist for this system for you to use with your own children—it’s the same one that our family uses! You can get that checklist right HERE.

    This system has worked so well for us! It ensures that my children know exactly what to do when they’re bored, their time is filled with activities that we both agree have value to them, and they still maintain choices and freedom, within guidelines.

    There are so many great ways to help our children access the amazing (smart!) things available to them at their (literal!) fingertips.

    The Internet is where our artists can create, our writers can wordsmith, and our photographers can capture. The Internet is also the great equalizer between our extroverts and our introverts—everyone has a voice online, and that’s really powerful.

    Our Goal When Teaching Children About Technology

    So our goal isn’t to keep our children away from the Internet, it is to teach them how the Internet is meant to be used. And for those of us who are smitten with writing, our goal is to also help our children write! I have found this system to be the solution to all of the above for our family and I hope that it is helpful for you, too!

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    Galit Breen is the author of Kindness Wins, a simple no-nonsense guide to teaching our kids how to be kind online and the TEDx Talk, “Raising a Digital Kid Without Ever Having Been One.” Her tech and writing friendly “What should I do now?” hack can be found right HERE.

     

  • Write Your Way to a Better Blog Returns!

    For bloggers, summertime means conference season, with two of the most popular blogging conferences taking place between June and August. As bloggers work themselves into a frenzy on social media, making plans for rooming together, attending parties, and meeting up for drinks, many of their peers experience a serious condition known as “conference envy.” It is totally no fun at all knowing that all your favorite bloggers are hanging out without you, and maybe even learning amazing new skills that will advance their craft. (I personally plan to go completely offline during BlogHer this year, as I can’t bear to see cute photos of all my friends having fun without me.)

    Summer is a great time to focus attention on your blogging and writing skills, but attending a blog conference isn’t always realistic. Those of us who are parents have to consider childcare needs before we hop a flight across the country, not to mention scheduling around summer vacations, camps, and reunions. For others, it can be hard to take time off work to travel to a conference. It can be a significant financial commitment to pay for conference registration, travel, hotels, and food. And when it doesn’t work out, it is a huge bummer to miss out on the perks of conference attendance: learning, networking, and socializing with other bloggers.

    So we have a great solution for those of you who aren’t able to make it to a blogging conference this year. (And for those of you who are attending a conference? You should join us, too!) We’re offering one of our most popular online writing courses for the third year in a row, Write Your Way to a Better Blog, as an interactive five-week course.

    Write-Your-Way 2016-2

     

    Class begins June 20th and ends July 22nd, but as always, you’ll have access to the course indefinitely and do NOT need to worry about falling behind, as it is completely self-paced. You can complete the course in your own time, at home, in your PJs, and it’s perfectly acceptable to catch up if you find yourself extra swamped or take a vacation.

    Here’s a breakdown of the sessions:

    Weeks 1 & 2: Purpose and Authenticity

    Why are you blogging? What do you want to say to the world that is unique?

    With help from bloggers including Sarah Rudell Beach of Left Brain Buddha and Brilliant Mindfulness, we’ll focus on:

    • How to define the purpose of your blog.
    • How to develop and refine a clear, authentic voice in your writing.
    • How to incorporate your blog’s purpose into each blog post.
    • How to write about diverse subjects and to write in diverse styles while still remaining true to your overall voice and purpose.
    • How to draft a compelling, concise About Me page or bio for other publications.
    • Find out how many popular bloggers write about their personal lives with integrity, and explore our own limits

    Week 3: Telling Stories on Your Blog

    We’ll learn about the power of storytelling to enhance your writing with tips and techniques from Danielle Herzog, as well as:

    • Learn the importance of narrative structure, character, dialogue, and sensory details.
    • Learn how to capture your audience’s attention with a strong beginning and finish your story with a powerful conclusion.
    • Brainstorm and explore ideas for blog posts that would captivate readers.

    Week 4: Humor Writing

    With practical tips from guest instructor Kate Hall of Can I Get Another Bottle of Whine and other humor bloggers, we’ll learn how to incorporate humor into your blog posts in a way that is authentic to your voice.

    We’ll explore different humor techniques, as well as:

    • How to write different types of humorous posts.
    • How to use humor in your social media platforms to engage with readers and increase your fan base.
    • Discuss when/why it is useful to use humor in a serious post, and how to do it tastefully.

    Week 5: Editing and Pitching

    We’ll discuss the importance of knowing the difference between revising, editing, and proofreading. We’ll also:

    • Discuss common grammatical errors and other mistakes to avoid in your writing.
    • Practice revising, editing, and proofreading your writing.
    • Discuss the differences in levels of editing needed for posts on own blog vs. submitting to other sites.
    • Learn how to impress an editor with a powerful pitch
    • Learn how to form productive relationships with editor

    And students will also have access to an exciting week of Bonus Content as well!

    The course will include:

    • the full class platform, including several weekly lessons and discussions about each lesson and assignment
    • instructor feedback on assignments in the class platform
    • a private Facebook group for class members, instructors, and guest instructors
    • a PDF of course lessons at the end of the class
    You can find out full details about each week’s lessons, session dates, guest instructors, and other bloggers who offered their expertise for our lessons on our class information page. We hope you’ll join us this summer for a great opportunity to take your blog to the next level, practice your writing skills, learn from some fantastic bloggers, and find a new community of bloggers! Sign up today!
    **We are still offering discounted self-paced online courses for Publish Your Personal Essay and The Balanced Writer throughout the summer! Details here.
    **We will be offering one more summer writing course, designed specifically for mothers and their school-age/tween children. Details coming soon, and the class will begin mid-July!
  • Our Summer Writing Class: Write Your Way to a Better Blog

    For bloggers, summertime means conference season, with two of the most popular blogging conferences taking place during June and July. We are excited to be attending BlogHer in New York City this July—in fact, we’ll be presenting a personal essay writing lab! As bloggers work themselves into a frenzy on social media, making plans for rooming together, attending parties, and meeting up for drinks, many of their peers experience a serious condition known as “conference envy.” It is totally no fun at all knowing that all your favorite bloggers are hanging out without you, and maybe even learning amazing new skills that will advance their craft. (I personally plan to go completely offline during Blog U this year, as I can’t bear to see cute photos of all my friends having fun without me.)

    Summer is a great time to focus attention on your blogging and writing skills, but attending a blog conference isn’t always realistic. Those of us who are parents have to consider childcare needs before we hop a flight across the country, not to mention scheduling around summer vacations, camps, and reunions. For others, it can be hard to take time off work to travel to a conference. It can be a significant financial commitment to pay for conference registration, travel, hotels, and food. And when it doesn’t work out, it is a huge bummer to miss out on the perks of conference attendance: learning, networking, and socializing with other bloggers.

    So we have a great solution for those of you who aren’t able to make it to a blogging conference this year. (And for those of you who are attending a conference? You should join us, too!) We’re offering one of our most popular online writing courses from last year, Write Your Way to a Better Blog, as a summer-long event.

    Write Your Way

    This time, since the class packs in so much valuable information, practice opportunity, guest instructor expertise, and feedback, we’re slowing it down and breaking it up a bit to cover the entire summer. And for the first time, you’ll be able to choose if you want to take the entire course, or pick and choose from four mini-courses. The sessions start June 21st and span the entire summer, on and off until August 22nd.

    Here’s a breakdown of the sessions:

    Session 1: Purpose and Authenticity

    Why are you blogging? What do you want to say to the world that is unique?

    With help from bloggers including Sarah Rudell Beach of Left Brain Buddha, we’ll focus on:

    • How to define the purpose of your blog.
    • How to develop and refine a clear, authentic voice in your writing.
    • How to incorporate your blog’s purpose into each blog post.
    • How to write about diverse subjects and to write in diverse styles while still remaining true to your overall voice and purpose.
    • How to draft a compelling, concise About Me page or bio for other publications.
    • Find out how many popular bloggers write about their personal lives with integrity, and explore our own limits

    Session 2: Telling Stories on Your Blog

    We’ll learn about the power of storytelling to enhance your writing with tips and techniques from Danielle Herzog of Martinis and Minivans, as well as:

    • Learn the importance of narrative structure, character, dialogue, and sensory details.
    • Learn how to capture your audience’s attention with a strong beginning and finish your story with a powerful conclusion.
    • Brainstorm and explore ideas for blog posts that would captivate readers.

    Session 3: Humor Writing

    With practical tips from guest instructor Kate Hall of Can I Get Another Bottle of Whine and other humor bloggers, we’ll learn how to incorporate humor into your blog posts in a way that is authentic to your voice.

    We’ll explore different humor techniques, as well as:

    • How to write different types of humorous posts.
    • How to use humor in your social media platforms to engage with readers and increase your fan base.
    • Discuss when/why it is useful to use humor in a serious post, and how to do it tastefully.

    Session 4: Editing and Pitching

    We’ll discuss the importance of knowing the difference between revising, editing, and proofreading. We’ll also:

    • Discuss common grammatical errors and other mistakes to avoid in your writing.
    • Practice revising, editing, and proofreading your writing.
    • Discuss the differences in levels of editing needed for posts on own blog vs. submitting to other sites.
    • Learn how to impress an editor with a powerful pitch
    • Learn how to form productive relationships with editor

    The course will include:

    • the full class platform, including several weekly lessons and discussions about each lesson and assignment
    • instructor feedback on assignments in the class platform
    • a private Facebook group for class members, instructors, and guest instructors
    • a PDF of course lessons at the end of the class
    You can find out full details about our mini-courses, session dates, guest instructors, and other bloggers who offered their expertise for our lessons on our class information page. We hope you’ll join us this summer for a great opportunity to take your blog to the next level, practice your writing skills, learn from some fantastic bloggers, and find a new community of bloggers. Sign up today!
    **Do you have a personal essay you’d like help with? Did you know we offer editing and essay consulting services? We would love to help you polish your essay for publication: find out more information here.
  • Get Published: A New Class and Writing Goals for the New Year

    It’s a new year, and for many writers, that means an opportunity to reflect on a new set of writing goals. For some that may mean carving out more time to write regularly, to overhaul and rebrand our blog, or to improve networking skills. But for the vast majority of us, writing goals in the new year involve getting our work published. But where? And how?

    Some people may not know that a lot of writers struggle with insecurities, envy, and self-doubt that can lead to a lack of focus and ultimately, inaction. (Oh, God. It’s not just me, is it?) We see links from our writer friends show up in our newsfeed, sharing articles they’ve published on prestigious websites; we scan our favorite magazines to discover who wrote that incredible piece we wish that we had written, and we stare at the same rough draft in our folder that has been taunting us for months. Why is it so hard to take the next step? And how exactly can we achieve our goals of getting published in the new year?

    If you have dreams of getting your work “out there” this year, you’re not alone. We love this article  and podcast on Beyond Your Blog, sharing some of the writing goals bloggers want to accomplish in 2015. Many writers have the drive to keep writing and submitting, but aren’t exactly sure how to go about it. That confusion can be a roadblock to taking any steps at all—finding the impetus to just take that first step can be hugely important.

    We are beyond excited to announce our next writing class, an interactive online course that will focus on that one thing that so many writers want to accomplish in 2015: getting their work published. The Publish Your Personal Essay Writing Bootcamp will focus on several key objectives: crafting an excellent personal essay, revising, editing, and polishing it for a particular publication, and submitting your essay to the perfect place.  We will provide a roadmap of popular publications for submitting work, including both traditional print and online magazines as well as high-profile websites. Writers can learn more about the publications they’ve had their eye on, gain a better understanding of the submissions process, and get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how to impress editors.

    essaygraphicwinter

    In addition, this course will also emphasize the value of participating in a writer’s group community; participants will learn specific skills to help one another revise and edit their work. Have you ever been asked by a fellow writer to help edit an essay? It’s often difficult to know where to begin. The Publish Your Personal Essay Writing Bootcamp will provide unique tools for critiquing the work of your fellow writing group members in addition to providing important strategies for crafting and revising your own essay.

    We are pleased to include the expertise of Susan Maccarelli of Beyond Your Blog and Norine Dworkin-McDaniel of the Science of Parenthood, as well as Lauren Apfel of Omnimom and debate editor at Brain, Child magazine and The HerStories Project’s developmental and copyeditor. Both will provide feedback on your essays, from editorial suggestions to tips for submitting to the perfect publication.

    Common obstacles for writers who want to get published are:

    1. A lack of clear direction— what are my options? Where do I begin?
    2. Uncertainty about which publications are out there, which ones would be a good fit for their work, and how to submit.
    3. Challenges with revising and editing their pieces– revisions are often the most challenging (and yet essential!) part of the writing process, and many writers have a hard time editing their own work.
    4. They feel like they’re working in a bubble without any feedback, suggestions, or inspiration from other writers.

    The Publish Your Personal Essay Writing Bootcamp will address all of these obstacles to help you achieve your publication goals in 2015. Being part of a writing community can be such a powerful experience. We hope you’ll join ours! The online course begins February 2nd, and is limited to 20 students because of the interactive nature and personalized feedback provided in the course. The class is now full. Make sure you sign up to learn more about spring classes!

    **Are you a blogger who wants to take their writing to the next level but are short on time or money? Try our Write Your Way to a Better Blog course; the PDF is available for only $20 for the remainder of January to help you with your blogging New Year’s resolutions! Along with the six weeks of lessons, you’ll also be invited to join an interactive Facebook discussion group. Find out more about the course and download the PDF here.

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  • The Power of Finding a Writing Community

    We just wrapped up our second online writing course—Write Your Way to a Better Blog—and we learned so much while teaching it. We were first and foremost impressed and inspired by the talent of the 20-some women writers who took the course; their diversity, unique voices, honesty, and courage blew us away. Each of them brought something very authentic and different to the course.

    The most notable impression we took away from this class was the support and camaraderie that exists among bloggers. Sure, you hear about blog envy (I mean, who hasn’t had that? That viral post last week that you totally should have written yourself!), competition, and an overcrowded market. Sometimes it feels like we’re stepping on fellow bloggers’ laptops to come up with the most provocative title, most poignant reflection, or funniest personal anecdote. It can be overwhelming.

    But when we started this six-week class, we were pleasantly surprised to see how instantly the bloggers taking the course began to interact, to support one another, to offer ideas and feedback, and even to share each other’s accomplishments. Our intention was to provide a class chock-full of helpful advice, tips, and exercises, and of course we hope that happened! But another component of the course that was equally meaningful was the community of writers that emerged from within it.

    We learned that having a writing partner (all the participants in class were paired up with another writer) is an invaluable tool, as is finding a writing community. In the blogging world, we hear so much about “finding our tribe,” and many of us are lucky to do just that without too much trouble. I personally would have stopped blogging long ago were it not for the support, understanding, and virtual cheerleading of my own blogging tribe.

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    Me with two of our HerStories contributors at the BlogHer 2014 Voices of the Year Reception.

    Among the many benefits of finding a writing community are:

    1. Meeting writers who get what it’s like to be part of the online writing world: it can be overwhelming and discouraging. There’s nothing like a conversation with another writer who “gets it.”
    2. Someone to provide honest and helpful feedback on your work. It’s amazing how another pair of writer’s eyes on a piece can help you; a fresh perspective can do wonders for a blog post or potential essay that has been stagnating.
    3. Finding encouragement and inspiration. Sometimes we all need to hear that our writing matters, that our words have the power to touch, entertain, and explore, and it’s so helpful to have a community of writers to give you that much-needed lift.
    4. Learning new styles of writing, topics to explore, and opportunities for publication. Being part of a writing community can open doors that you may not have known even existed. It’s like girls’ night and a networking session all rolled into one.

    We are happy to announce that now that our online course has ended, we are offering Write Your Way to a Better Blog as a PDF! Although it won’t have the online course interaction component or instructor feedback, we think we’ve found a way for bloggers to get that writing community experience we think is so valuable.

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    We encourage bloggers who have bought the PDF to join a brand new Write Your Way to a Better Blog Facebook group we’ll be forming for discussion, interaction, and support. The group will be community-led, and we think you’ll make new connections and learn so much from each other. We encourage you to team up and find a writing partner (or maybe you already have one who will join the class with you!) within the Facebook group. Complete your exercises and assignments together; keep each other accountable; provide honest and helpful feedback on each other’s work.

    You can learn all about the course and the PDF, and buy a copy for $29 (the price will go up to $35 next week, so hurry!) right here. We hope you’ll learn a lot and find a fantastic writing community of your own. In the words of one of our students,

    I’ve taken quite a few blogging classes and a few writing ones too but what I was really craving was something that combined the two. I blog to write and my goal when sit to post on my blog is to improve my craft. The Write Your Way to a Better Blog course was exactly what I needed. The instructors are fabulous and the lessons and exercises so incredibly helpful. In the first week or two of class, everything felt so much clearer. And, so essential, everyone is so supportive. It was a truly fabulous experience and I know I’m a better writer now than I was 6 weeks ago!

    Purchase the PDF of Write Your Way to a Better Blog right here! And stay tuned next week as we announce our next online writing course, which will begin at the end of January!