Course Code: wl1
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are no prerequisites to take this course.
The instructional materials required for this course are included in enrollment and will be available online.
A new session of each course opens each month, allowing you to enroll whenever your busy schedule permits.
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.
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.
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.
Eva has been the best writing instructor I've ever had, always providing positive guidance without any form of discouragement. A simple "nudge" here and "let me point you in this direction" etc., is quite refreshing from an instructor instead of the raw criticisms that may hinder one's goal to write and share a personal life story. Thank you Eva and thank you classmates."
Eva, you have an extraordinary gift reaching students of all levels. You have much to offer all who want to discover and explore, becoming more aware. As a teacher and writer you have a divine gift and for me this course has been an answer to prayer. I wish I could have taken it 50 years ago."
From one gardener to another. Some six weeks ago I planted myself in your wonderful writing class, from there you took over and helped me grow. You fertilized me with just the right amount to make me bloom, from there you kept me weeded from the insecurities that might creep in and choke out my roots. Your soil is rich and deep so that I may flourish for years to come, your skies always sunny and bright so that I will try to grow tall and strong."
I think so many people are afraid to take a class like this, but I am living proof that there is nothing scary about the class. I am not very comfortable with the computer, but this class was made very accessable. I enjoyed the instructors upbeat style and encouraging comments. The other added pleasure was having students from all over the place. I thought it was going to be a local student population, so this was a pleasant surprise."
Thank you for this class. It was a great way to interact with others who are struggling to get their words on paper. I found the discussion area particularly helpful. I've also found that I had a lot more to write about than I thought---and I'm really enjoying it. Thanks again."
This has been a wonderful experience. You've really got me writing. My page a day is often two and three. I've loved the interaction in the class."
This was my first online course, and it has been a very positive learning experience. I felt I got my money's worth and had enough time to submit assignments and do lessons. I enjoyed the interaction with the other students as well as with the teacher/friend/encourager Eva. Well done!"
You don't know how powerful your positive attitude in your teaching has been to me. I have learned much and have enjoyed the interaction with you and classmates. This format is fantastic and not intimidating in any way. I have begun to think of myself as a writer now and the pages have been flowing on my nonfiction book. Thanks again and I will be taking your Writerrific class soon."
You have given me the start I needed. I've wanted to write my life story for some time, but couldn't figure out where to begin or how to make it interesting to someone else. I believe the comments, encouragement, and stories you and the other class members have shared have been invaluable to me."
A blog post I wrote was on the "Featured" section of Skirt.com this morning. This is the second time I have made the wall since taking your classes. You have really helped me. I don't doubt myself as much anymore. My thoughts are more organized (Thanks to the Bubble Method) and I am almost believing I might be a writer some day. So, just wanted to say thank you!"