Using Our Words

to Change Our World

a new online writing class and community​

Because SIlence isn't an option....
  • “You write in order to change the world … The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change it.” - James Baldwin
  • "Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds."  - Elie Wiesel

We're all still reeling from the events of the past days and weeks. Many of us are grieving, many of us are angry (at others, at ourselves), many of us are simply in deep despair. Most of us probably feel a whole range of those feelings (and others) during the course of a single day. We also recognize that many others have feelings that are the complete opposite of ours about the election.

We want to build a safe, supportive space for us to:

  • process those emotions, 
  • talk about how to practice self-care during these unprecedented times, with the help of guest teacher and mindfulness instructor Sarah Rudell Beach of Brilliant Mindfulness, LLC.
  • learn techniques for using writing as a vehicle for social change, using two core texts (not required to purchase for class): Writing to Change the World: An Inspiring Guide to Transforming the World With Words by Mary Pipher and Undoing the Silence: Six Tools for Social Change Writing by Louise Dunlap,
  • discuss ways to have a meaningful and empathetic dialogue with others -- including friends and family members and our audience  -- who have different political perspectives, with the help of guest instructor Beth Silvers, the Republican co-host of Pantsuit Politics, a podcast described by NPR as one of the most informative during the 2016 election season, 
  • identify the elements of effective opinion writing (in publications, blogs, and social media), with award-winning journalist and national columnist Mary C. Curtis. Mary will use student writing and her own columns to describe how to combine a strong point of view with research and balance.
  • The class will include daily (Monday - Friday), self-paced lessons delivered to your inbox and through our private class platform. Lessons will feature readings, writing prompts, and discussion questions. The class will also include weekly phone conferences, a private Facebook community, and Q&As with guest instructors.
  • Note: This is a class that is open to individuals of ALL political perspectives. This class will include open, non-judgmental dialogue. This class is about understanding and finding a way forward.

    Class Outline

    WEEK 1 (Nov. 28-Dec. 2)

    This week will focus on journaling to express and share how we're feeling about recent events. Using writing prompts and readings to guide discussion, we'll share personal stories as well as our wider concerns about the world.  We'll also discuss ways to practice self-care during difficult times.

    WEEK 2 (Dec. 5-9)

    This week will focus on free-writing as a tool to generate ideas. You'll write what Louise Dunlap calls a "mad draft" -- an unfiltered, emotional, and quick draft based on your first instincts and ideas -- of an op-ed, blog post, personal essay, or feature article.

    WEEK 3 (Dec. 12-16)

    This week will focus on audience. We live in a polarized world. We will dive deeply -- with empathy and compassion -- to understand our own biases, fears, and experiences and whether they may be barriers between ourselves and those (in our reading audience) with whom we wish to connect. We'll have conversations with those from different political perspectives and reflect on that dialogue.

    WEEK 4 (Jan. 2-6)

    This week will focus on feedback from our community. You'll also receive suggestions for how to sharpen your argument, deepen your ideas, and use outside research. 

    About the Instructors:

    Jessica Smock and Stephanie Sprenger are the co-editors of the HerStories Project, a writing and publishing community for women. To learn more about Jessica and Stephanie, click here

    Guest Instructors

    Sarah Rudell Beach, Brilliant Mindfulness, LLC

    Sarah is the Executive Director of Brilliant Mindfulness, LLC, and is a Mindful School Certified Instructor. A teacher with 17 years of classroom experience, she writes about mindfulness, education, and healthy living. 

    Beth Silvers, Pantsuit Politics

    Beth is the right-leaning co-host of Pantsuit Politics, one of iTunes' top political podcasts. Pantsuit Politics was named by Bustle as one of the best five election podcasts for informed voters in 2016.

    Mary C. Curtis, columnist at Roll Call

    Mary, a columnist at Roll Call, is an award-winning journalist, trainer and speaker. She has contributed to NBC, The Washington Post “She the People” blog, The Root, NPR, Women’s Media Center, MSNBC, and talks politics on WCCB-TV in Charlotte, N.C. She was national correspondent for AOL’s Politics Daily and covered the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, and events such as the first national Tea Party conference in Nashville. Her coverage specialty is the intersection of politics, culture and race. Curtis has worked as an editor at The New York Times, the Charlotte Observer, as executive features editor and syndicated columnist, the Baltimore Sun, Arizona Daily Star and Associated Press. A 2006 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, Curtis also was chosen for the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs, journalism’s first social media fellowship, at Ohio State in 2011.

    What Former HerStories Project students are saying...

    "The best online course I've had for memoir. In five years of taking writing workshops, Jessica's class was the hands on and specifics I'd been looking for. Classes in the past had too much time spent on feedback for the work of others and not enough time spent on building skills with exercises specific for that part of writing."

    "I learned so much from the Personal Essay Writing Bootcamp! I have more tools in my writer's work box, which has also given me greater confidence. I'm inspired to go deeper with my feelings and my writing."

    "I love the class! Having never taken an online writing class before I found it to be very quite informative and helpful. I learned a great deal and was able to pull this through into my writing."

    "A hands-on, practical and communal course that solidified my appreciation for personal essays and the women who write them."

    "Jessica and Stephanie led us through essay writing in small, manageable steps. I found this method really helpful as I am often overwhelmed by the blank page. I have taken many on-line classes and this was one of the few times that I did not overwhelmed and loose track of the process. I had a great experience working with Jessica and the other writers."

    "I've taken many writing classes with lots of great teachers but every technique presented in this class was something new for me. The lessons were fresh with lots of very concrete instructions and specific assignments, all of which made me a much better and more focused writer. Thank you!"​


    Limited space available

    $99 which includes self-paced lessons, private community, and access to weekly discussion group