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Write Your Life Story

Have you thought about writing your story, sharing life-altering events? Does your family really know about their heritage? If you've ever thought about writing your life story, now is the time!

In this course, you will have the satisfaction of telling history your way. You will learn how to bring characters to life, recall vivid memories, engage readers, and even manage your creative time. You may even find a lucrative market for your story, just like the authors of the bestselling Rocket Boys and Angela's Ashes. This course walks you step-by-step through the process of writing your life story. It's fun. It's exciting. It's a story only you can tell!

6 Weeks / 24 Course Hrs
Starting June 17, 2020

Offered in Partnership with your Preferred School

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Why this school? It's been chosen based on your location or if you've visited this school's website. Change School

Learning Method

Instructor-led

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Starting June 17 | July 15
Self-Paced

No instructor. Study on your own schedule

Write Your Life Story

Details + Objectives

Course Code: wl1

What You Will Learn
  • Learn the step-by-step process of writing your life story - from developing your characters to considering your publication options
  • Examine the path you will take in writing your memoir by considering style, genre, and themes
  • Analyze events and people that shaped who you are, and learn how to bring them to life for your readers
  • Learn journalistic skills that will help you uncover your own past and record important events
How the course is taught
  • Instructor-led course
  • 6 weeks in duration
  • Courses begin each month
  • 2 lessons released each week
  • 24 course hours
How you will benefit
  • Rediscover your fondest memories and gain a better understanding of the events that shaped your life
  • Learn how to turn your time and creativity into something tangible that you can be proud of and pass on
  • Discover how to share your experiences with other people in an engaging, memorable fashion

Outline

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What's Your Story

Has anyone ever told you that you have an incredible life or asked if you've written your life story? Are there things that you want to put in print for yourself, your loved ones, or the reading public? If so, then this is the class for you! In this first lesson, you'll discover why only you can write your life story, how to give yourself permission to do it, and explore some ways to empower yourself.

It's About You

Where should you start? The beginning might not be the correct answer. That's the focus of this lesson. The lesson will also talk about becoming an observer of yourself and others around you. You're hereby given permission to ask questions and eavesdrop on conversations (without being rude, of course). What direction will you take when writing about your life? Will it be a book-length memoir or a collection of shorter essays? You'll explore the endless possibilities and learn why you don't have to make any decisions just yet.

Finding Your Story

Writing a life story is like making a pot of vegetable soup. You assemble all the ingredients, chopping some or maybe shelling fresh peas and peeling carrots. Then you find a pot that's the right size and begin putting the ingredients in it. Next comes the waiting part. You must simmer the soup for a while or it won't be soup—just cold water with raw vegetables. Right now, your life story might be just that—a bunch of ingredients that you need to assemble and let simmer. This lesson will talk about how to select the right ingredients for cooking up a life story that will satisfy both you and your reader.

Your Cast of Characters

This lesson will talk about the people who have been in your life and discuss their influence on you. In order to spark your memory and to pull these influential people into your story, you'll fill out character sketches on each person. You might even discover some things about yourself as you reflect on those who have been a part of your world.

Starting at the Beginning

When you write your life story, you'll be revealing yourself. You may share moments few know about. You'll tell your side of events, adventures, and episodes. You'll make judgments, you'll give opinions, you'll speak out, and you may allow others to see sides of you that have never been revealed. You'll learn about—perhaps even wrestle with—these topics in this lesson.

Quick Ways to Jog Memories

In this lesson, you'll learn quick, easy, and virtually guaranteed methods to spark memories. You'll do this by investigating your senses and your memories. That might include looking at photographs, going to movies, or even eating comfort foods from your past.

Getting Serious About Writing

In this lesson, you'll continue to focus on how to jog memories and find creative inspiration. First, the lesson will talk about writing in a journal. Hopefully, by the time this course is over, your writer's journal will be your new best friend. If you're serious about writing the stories in your life, you will need time to do it. For that reason, the lesson will also cover time management. You'll learn where to find writing time and when may be the most creative times for working on your life story.

Historically Speaking

In this lesson, you'll learn ways to preserve your story, your own history. The lesson will talk about how to capture your writer's voice or the voice of the person you're writing about. Everyone has a unique speech pattern and word selection. Your job is to discover these voices and include them in your writing. The lesson will also go over how to get ready to interview others for information and how to fill in the blanks you may have in your own story. Then, it will discuss how to find the information you need through research. The challenge and fun of writing life stories is to write them as if you're sitting across a table from your reader, telling the tales. In this lesson, you'll find out how to do that.

The Interview

If you write, at some point you'll have to get information from another person. This is especially true when you're writing your life story. For that reason, this entire lesson will be devoted to interviewing. Imagine that you want to include how you and a grandparent share the same features, or so you've been told. By interviewing a friend or relative who also knew this person, you can get many more details. That's what interviewing is all about—asking questions to get information. When you're helping another person write a life story, most of the information you get will be through interviews.

Viewing Your Life and Giving It to the Reader

Location, location, location! You need to clearly describe the details of the locations in your life story. In this lesson, you'll learn professional ways to describe your location so that it jumps off the page. You'll gather up the tools to make your story shine. Yes, it's all in the details. In addition, the lesson will teach you how to create a mental picture of a typical reader. You'll find out why, as you write your life story, it's smart to concentrate on this person and make sure that they understand what you're saying.

Getting It Down on Paper (Or Computer)

Do you need to know about grammar to write your life story? If you've wondered that, you can breathe easier, because in this lesson, you'll get a quick review of the grammar you need to know and some tips to make it all much easier. Then, because writer's block is real, pesky, and tends to destroy even the most hopeful writer, you'll take it head on. You'll discover the trick to dealing with this creative brain slow down: staying focused while giving your mind some serious down time. That doesn't mean you should give up your project or put it on hold. Just take some time out. You'll find the answers to questions that may have plagued you in the past and stopped you from writing.

Publishing Options and Extras

When people first began writing, one of the hardest parts for them is to gently, but relentlessly, edit their own work before they share it with others. Often, to create golden words—the ones that are too beautiful to cut out of a manuscript—they are forced to sacrifice entire paragraphs. Unfortunately, sometimes the golden words are the ones that have to go. In this lesson, you'll learn how professional writers self-edit and what they do to make their writing sing. The lesson will also talk about selecting titles and including supplemental material—focusing on the extras that could make your book visually appealing. Finally, it will discuss how to work with groups and when to share your work.

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Instructors & Support

Eva Shaw

Eva Shaw, Ph.D. is a full-time working writer. She has authored thousands of articles, essays, and short stories and more than 70 books including "Writing the Nonfiction Book" and "Insider's Guide to San Diego." Her work has been featured in USA Today, San Diego Union Tribune, Publisher's Weekly, and others. She has won several awards, including the Book of the Year Award from the American Journal of Nursing, the Benjamin Franklin Award, and the Woman of Merit Award.

Requirements

Requirements

Prerequisites:

There are no prerequisites to take this course.

Requirements:

Hardware Requirements:

  • This course can be taken on either a PC or Mac.

Software Requirements:

  • PC: Windows 8 or later.
  • Mac: OS X Snow Leopard 10.6 or later.
  • Browser: The latest version of Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox are preferred. Microsoft Edge and Safari are also compatible.
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader. Click here to download the Acrobat Reader.
  • Software must be installed and fully operational before the course begins.

Other:

  • Email capabilities and access to a personal email account.
Instructional Materials

The instructional materials required for this course are included in enrollment and will be available online.

FAQs

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When can I get started?

A new session of each course opens each month, allowing you to enroll whenever your busy schedule permits.

How does it work?

Once a course session starts, two lessons will be released each week for the six-week duration of your course. You will have access to all previously released lessons until the course ends.

How long do I have to complete each lesson?

The interactive discussion area for each lesson automatically closes two weeks after each lesson is released, so you're encouraged to complete each lesson within two weeks of its release.

What if I need an extension?

The final exam will be released on the same day as the last lesson. Once the final exam has been released, you will have two weeks plus 10 days (24 days total) to complete the final and finish any remaining lessons in your course. No further extensions can be provided beyond these 10 days.

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