Writing Your Story


Writing Your Story


Lesson Info

The Writing Life

We're gonna talk about the writing life. And the first thing I wanna confess to you is that I haven't had a job since 1977. Haven't had a job, haven't collected a paycheck. Was a single mother, put three children through school, so you better believe I worked hard, and I had to develop some pretty strong work habits, and self-discipline, because I never had a boss. There was nobody standing over me saying, "You'd better deliver", I just knew I did. And my work habits did not include sitting and waiting for the muse. I always knew I had to get up in the morning and tell a story, and I wanted to do it well. And from a pretty early stage, I really recognized, quite apart from need to earn my living, a responsibility to readers. And I have never, never forgotten that part, that what I do, and what you do, as a writer, is only half of the job, really. The other part is what the reader does. The person who takes in your story, and gives over their time and their trust. You take their hand, y...

ou say, "Let me lead you along on this journey", and you'd better make it worthwhile for them, and not cheat them, and tell them only part of what the actual truth was. So I'm gonna begin with a little bit of a description of how I go about it, and it won't all apply to you. So take what is useful, and discard the rest. I have a series of rituals, and they're very important to me because so much of what I do is uncharted territory. So if there are just a few things, I will never buy ground coffee because that would deprive me of one of my precious rituals, which is grinding the coffee in the morning. And again, that's not gonna be the magic bullet that will make your writing suddenly lyrical, and successful, and moving, and powerful. But it is important, when you wander into this dark wood, that you have a few things to hold onto.

Class Description

Everyone’s got a story to tell. Some are funny. Some are inspiring. Others are tragic. But no matter how compelling your story might seem, it won’t resonate with readers unless you’re able to effectively translate your concept onto the page.

Celebrated journalist, novelist and memoirist Joyce Maynard will give you the tools you need to transform your brilliant idea into an absorbing memoir that readers won’t be able to put down.

Maynard will begin by walking you through the process of identifying your story and how best to tell it. She’ll then help you develop your story through language, story structure, dramatic tension, dialogue, description and editing. Finally, she’ll address the challenges of the writing life, such as how to create a productive practice, design a comfortable writing space, deal with rejection and find an audience.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Understand the difference between telling what happened and exploring your journey.
  • Figure out what to include in your story and what to cut out.
  • Decide on a point of view, a point of entry and a structure.
  • Get over your fears of revealing embarrassing truths about yourself.
  • Stop worrying about being judged.
  • Deal with loneliness and find your tribe.
  • Develop the arc of a sentence, a paragraph and a story.
  • Listen to the sound and rhythm of your sentences.