A Writing Course for Everyone
Five things I learned from "writing out of your life"
As promised, today I wanted to share a bit about a writing course I took earlier this year.
It was the first writing course I’ve taken as an adult. I did a bit of research and discovered there are many fantastic programs you can take online these days, via continuing education programs at top universities like Stanford and Columbia. The class I took was called “Writing Out of Your Life” with Lynn Lauber, offered at UCLA Extension.
I was pregnant at the time, meaning mostly horizontal on my couch. I loved the idea of a class for this reason; I needed a push to sit down and write. These courses aren’t cheap either, which I knew would help create some accountability for me to actually keep up with it.
This particular course was focused more on encouragement and production than critiquing, which is especially good if you consider yourself a beginner. At first I was a little disappointed about this as I wanted to receive more direct critiquing to improve my writing. But in hindsight I see the value in the format of this class. And as you’ll see below, I learned some invaluable skills that did in fact improve my writing and totally changed my process.
I believe we are all writers at our core. Whether we decide to share it with others or keep it for ourselves, writing about our experiences is healing, clarifying, and often enlightening. We all have stories inside of us, and I loved this course as a tool to help us find them.
Here are five things I learned from “Writing Out of Your Life”:
The power of free-writing. This is something I’d done more as a journaling technique, a way to empty my mind of thoughts and worries, or to work through something that was bothering me. I’d never tried free-writing to form an actual piece of writing until this class. It was so powerful! I discovered so much magic in my writing when I able to get out of my head. Which brings me to…
Writing and editing are two separate processes. As a recovering perfectionist, I am admittedly horrible with this one! I learned in this class that I tend to edit as I write, which blocks my creativity and prevents me from reaching a flow state. It’s a hard habit to break.
Medium matters. For me free-writing by hand works better than typing on a computer, because it’s easier to stop myself from editing as I write. I also found I prefer writing in full-sized spiral notebooks best; there’s something about the extra space that helps me get into a flow.
Allow your words to lead the way. You might start with a writing prompt and through free-writing, end up somewhere completely different. In this way prompts can be quite brilliant because they can get things rolling for you with less pressure. Let go of where you think you are going and trust you will end up in the right place.
Re-writing is necessary. Both in this course and from other writers I’ve learned that it is not uncommon to re-write over and over again to get to the rawest, truest material. I used to be more precious with my writing, and sometimes I would drive myself mad overworking something because I didn’t want to throw away my progress. Now I honor re-writing as a natural and integral part of my writing process.
Also! I have to mention Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, which is utilized as a textbook in this course. It’s become one of my favorites. Julia Cameron wrote the foreword, and it seems she may have actually learned from Goldberg first as she studied with her prior to writing The Artist’s Way.
Next week, for paying subscribers, I am planning to share an essay I wrote from this course. I’d like to take a look at it unedited, and then share some notes about what changes I might make going forward.
To a creative and rejuvenating week ahead 🪶
All my love,