$315 | 8 Weeks
Want to figure out a way to live a happier life, heal emotionally and/or physically from illness or loss, self-reflect for better understanding of past events, or channel your challenges into art? Pick up a pen and paper or open your laptop, because expressive writing can do all of the above: studies have proven that it can enhance memory, lead to insight and positivity, amp the immune system, soothe mood disorders, and spark some powerful writing.
Transformation can occur when writers tell their stories. Write. Reframe. Rewrite. Understand.
In this class, we will:
- Gather for two virtual writing circles each week on Zoom (Tuesdays and Saturdays — see time below).
- Build a writing practice and community through the writing circles.
- Learn and practice tools for writing expressively.
- Write and workshop one short essay each week.
- Explore writers who used their words to move through illnesses, breakups, addictions, and loss (Frida Kahlo, Maya Angelou, Cheryl Strayed, Tony Hoagland, and Pablo Coelho to name a few).
- Read professional essays as examples to spring from in our own writing.
At the end of eight weeks, you will come away with eight short essays or essay starts that you can further refine, turn into a collage, or use as a catalyst for a longer, more comprehensive piece. You will have participated in twice-weekly writing circles, and you will also come away with a better understanding of how writing can lead you toward wellness.
Writing Circle Times
Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time
Saturdays at 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Pacific Time
Recommended – not required – Texts
Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life by Natalie Goldberg
The Story You Need to Tell by Sandra Marinella, MA, MEd
Get on the bus! Taking a class is both a solo and group journey. We’ll be traveling together for eight weeks, so getting to know each other and forming a classroom community are key. In week one, we’ll cover etiquette and agreements for writing in a group and sharing our work. We’ll introduce ourselves, discuss our goals, and embark on our writing adventure.
Get it out! Expressive writing is a valuable tool for getting the stories out of one’s head and onto the page. In week two, we’ll discuss scientific research that supports the healing potential of writing, discuss stream-of-consciousness messy writing, solo and group journaling, and writing from the “I.” We will explore the benefits of in-person and virtual writing circles. We’ll set up (optional) times to meet virtually via Zoom to experiment with holding our own community writing circles. We’ll practice capturing emotion with metaphor, write a short essay, and participate in workshopping.
Why did they write it? In week three, we’ll peruse the work of famous authors who wrote and published powerful tales about their own life challenges. Some of the most emotionally potent stories emerge when writers are moving through their own struggles. We’ll gather inspiration from the pros to write our own short essay and then participate in workshopping.
What didn’t you know? What did the “old you” have no clue about until you experienced it? Becoming a parent? Getting divorced? Serving in the military? Surviving a hurricane? We’ll gather inspiration from professional essays, our own photos, memories, and brainstorm through journaling and/or our community virtual writing circle. Workshopping will follow.
Want to bring a character to life on the page? You can with the right tools. In week five, we will wave the magic wand of sensory description and dialogue, then share these short character-description essays in workshop.
Time for a do-over. If you could rewrite a chapter of your life with a totally different outcome, what would it be? Here’s your chance to change your story by giving it another ending. We’ll also experiment with slipping into the observer’s role by writing in third-person point-of-view or penning the story from another character’s point of view.
One day everything changed! In week seven, we will ponder major and minor turning points in our lives. We’ll brainstorm through expressive writing, virtual writing circle, journaling, and reading professional essays, then choose one memory to write about, followed by workshop.
Onward! What gifts, strengths, lessons have come from the obstacles? In our final week, we will tally the positives that came from the negatives, look at tools and tips to keep moving your writing practice forward, delve into the world of publishing, and write and workshop this closing essay.
Learn more about how our courses work here, and contact us with any other questions.
Susan's class was a joy. It was well organized and interesting. Susan is a caring and very invested teacher. She was very present all during the class and her feedback was well thought and helpful. Ariela Zucker
Susan was lovely and responded in a timely manner. She gave detailed feedback... The content of this class was PERFECT. Lessette F. Altamiranda.
Susan brought together a group of strangers from all walks of life and all points on the continent, and under her calm and insightful leadership encouraged us to find our own writing styles, speak our own truths, and support each other as a community. Jennifer Burton
This was a terrific class. The lessons were well-organized and stimulating. They had excellent "lectures" and plenty of additional resources and ideas. I will be able to refer back to them for inspiration for months. Susan was a thoughtful and resourceful teacher. She was able to nurture an especially lively and collegial relationship among the class, as we discussed the lessons and responded to each other's writing. Please encourage Susan to offer this class again! Marge Osborn
I have taken a number of courses at Writers.com and I have always found the teachers did a good job. My all- time favorite teacher is Susan Vespoli. She did an excellent job of providing readings that set a creative tone and she chose excellent prompts. She assured us that it was not necessary to use what she provided. I appreciated the manner in which she responded to our shares. At no time did I feel that I was taking a risk in reading what I wrote because Susan had created such a safe place. Jane Knox
Taking Susan’s workshop helps me generate tons of ideas for my fiction writing. It also helps me write regularly. I cannot wait to join her next session. Sharon Mirza
The writing circles on Zoom have been my favorite part of this class. Being able to write at scheduled times rather than around the clock really helps me to set writing dates and to write with others. Also, I like the spontaneous nature of the writing on Zoom meetings, and being able to see and hear the other students and the teacher. Noa Granot
This class was amazing! Susan did a fantastic job with the curriculum and with keeping the group moving with discussion and encouragement. Susan created a very safe experience for all of us. She's a fantastic facilitator - providing poems and lines from those poems that somehow really tap into things for me. Andi Reed