Writing Without Fear: Using Life Writing to Free the Writer Within You | Christopher Mitchell | Skillshare

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Writing Without Fear: Using Life Writing to Free the Writer Within You

teacher avatar Christopher Mitchell, Writing Mentor

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

11 Lessons (49m)
    • 1. Introduction to the Course

    • 2. Your Memoir Project

    • 3. Leashing the Monster: Let’s Talk about what Limits Us

    • 4. Stage 1 of the Writing Process: Prewriting for the Memoir

    • 5. Project Demonstration: I share my own prewriting exercises

    • 6. Stage 2 of the Writing Process: Sloppy Drafts

    • 7. Project Demonstration: I share my draft of my memoir

    • 8. Stage 3 of the Writing Process: Revising to “Re-see” and Strengthen the Draft

    • 9. Project Demonstration: I share my revision techniques for my memoir

    • 10. Stage 4 of the Writing Process: Editing for Clarity & Consistency

    • 11. Stage 5 of the Writing Process: Publishing & the Course Wrap-Up

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About This Class


Have you ever struggled with writer's block or the dreaded "fear of the blank page?" Or would you like to make writing a more enjoyable, less frustrating endeavor?

Christopher Mitchell will show you how to overcome these writing frustrations as you learn how to turn your memories into memoirs in this course jam-packed with great information. 

In "Writing Without Fear: Using Life Writing to Free the Writer Within You," he introduces the five stages of the writing process: prewriting, drafting, revision, editing, and publishing.

For the class project, you will write a memoir that can be shared with fellow students if you feel comfortable doing so.

Throughout the course, you will learn tried-and-true techniques that will jumpstart any writing hobby or project.

In this course, you will:

(1.) use the writing process to develop and write a memoir;

(2.) discuss prewriting techniques to overcome writer's block and let writing come naturally to you;

(3) utilize "sloppy first drafts" to begin shaping your memoir;

(4) discuss and utilize revision techniques to better understand the need to "re-see" the draft;

(5) edit for clarity and understanding;

(6) consider ways to publish your memoir: perhaps on a blog or as part of a family history project.

The writing process has five stages that we will work through. You should upload any part of the project you feel comfortable sharing with others.

Christopher is an experienced writer and writing instructor with more than ten years of hands-on, classroom teaching experience. Join him today in this eleven-video, 55-minute course and learn to overcome these common writing fears and frustrations. 

The reviews are in. Have a look at what others are saying about the course:

(1.) "This is the best writing course I've yet to see. I believe that it will not be surpassed. Why? It has step-by-step procedures which do not thwart or inhibit the creative process. They act as the gentle nudge I sometimes need, to just keep writing. Seeing that there can be systemization, of a sort, in writing takes away much of my own fear. My fear was in the "what if" realm, mostly concerning writers' block or losing momentum or energy. It was like I feared becoming afraid more than being afraid.

I am very impressed with the combining of the technical with the aesthetic and how one does not overcome the other deleteriously. Instead it combines into a brilliant and synergistic approach to writing which I've never seen or thought of before. It is the direction and instruction I was sorely lacking but I wasn't even aware of it.

Thank you, Chris for your brilliant and professional course. It is literally outstanding." -- Chuck S.

(2.) "Thank you for such a great course. As an academic, I've been fearful of creative writing for a long time, for many of the reasons you identify in your videos.

I really enjoyed working through your course this weekend, and found your prewriting techniques incredibly helpful. I now have my first A4 page of creative writing - after years of thinking about writing creatively, but not actually following through and doing it.

Your kind and patient approach is just what I needed and now I have some strategies I can play with. I have no doubt I will come back to these videos many times." -- Lucy B.

(3.) "Your lessons are great. And these techniques - brainstorming, clustering, and freewriting - are new for me. Thank you very much for sharing the secrets of how to write painlessly and productively." -- Vera F.

Join us today!

Meet Your Teacher

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Christopher Mitchell

Writing Mentor


Christopher Mitchell is a writing instructor with a big heart and an unwavering love for the craft. He has taught writing for more than ten years for Marshall University, Ashland Community College (Kentucky), and Cabell County Public Schools in Huntington, WV.

His writing instruction philosophies borrow heavily from the masters in the field including Don Murray, Peter Elbow, Annie Dillard, and Natalie Goldberg.

Join him for engaging writing instruction across genres.

See full profile

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1. Introduction to the Course: Hello and welcome to this skill share course titled Writing Without Fear. Using Life writing to free the writer within you. My name is Christopher Mitchell, and I'm your instructor for this course. Before we move into the course description, let me explain who I am and why I'm teaching this course. As you can see on your screen, I've devoted a lot of time to writing in writing instruction. I have written professionally for more than 15 years now mostly newspaper and magazine articles and several blogged posts. I have also taught writing. For more than 10 years, I have worked with adults in college writing courses as well as young developing writers in middle school and high school settings. The skills I will share with you and this course are tried and true and have been proven effective for writers of any age, experience or skill level from writers who criticize and in perfect work to those struggling with what is known loosely as the fear of the blank page. Know this you are not alone. Even the writing masters we admire have struggled with these issues. We will work together in this course to overcome self doubt Perhaps the most important bit of information to take from this course is that the self doubt and self criticism we battle his writers is normal. I battle self doubt every day myself is a writer. But as I've learned these doubts air controllable with some practice in this class, I will provide you the techniques and opportunities to do so. That brings me to our class project. We will use the writing process to develop a life writing exercise in this course. By the end of the course, you'll be well on your way to creating a polished personal memoir or a family history. I will ask you if you are comfortable doing so to publish your project to our class Project gallery. Why life writing? You might ask. Personal experiences and memories often make great material for writers to start working with. After all, if you choose a vivid memory or Siris of memories to write about, it won't require additional research or outside expertise to begin your project. Instead, you are the expert writing about what you know a word of advice, though, as you start thinking about possible topics for this class for now, it might be best to steer clear of potentially upsetting memories, Justus. They can be difficult to think about. They are especially hard to write about. Proceed with caution. Should you consider writing about upsetting memories? I'm excited to have you along on this journey, and I can't wait to see how your writing project turns out if you're ready, join us in the second part of the course now. 2. Your Memoir Project: welcome back to our skill share course, writing without fear, using life writing to free the writer within you. I'm Christopher Mitchell. In this video, we will talk about the memoir and why it is a powerful genre of writing and why it fits our primary goals for this course. This is one of my favorite quotes about writing, and it works especially well here. There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. This quote by Dr Maya Angelou. In this case, that story is about our lives, our memories, whether they're great childhood experiences, challenges we have faced his adults. What have you Everyone has a story in Writing About Our Lives allows us to approach memories with truth. Creativity in earnest with the memoir provides us. Above all, I think it's self awareness. It provides introspection. It allows us to see our place in time and space, and it allows us to make sense of it all. Above all, it allows us to process memories, whether joyful, saddening, were confusing and allows us to analyze life moments that have shaped us. You might take one of several paths in your own memoir, but think about the intention of this course. Are you hoping to publish this writing online, or perhaps is part of a larger book project? Will you pass his memoir onto family so future generations can learn about your life? Remember that you have an audience to consider. You are a writer. You write for yourself first, but realize your words hold tremendous power. That alone is inspiring to think about. Now let's talk about the writing process. Each of these five stages air important to our memoir project into our overreaching goal of quelling fears, silencing our inner critic and moving us beyond the frustrations that prevent us from writing and from writing well, pre writing, drafting, revising, editing and publishing these air the five stages. But remember, this writing process is recursive. We can work through these stages all at once, but that isn't always the best practice. You may visit and revisit all of these stages, depending on the needs of your project. Let's break down each stage here briefly in this video. Other videos in this course will allow us to work more in depth with some of the stages, the stages we will work with the most in this course are pre writing, drafting and revising. These stages lend themselves best to an asynchronous class like this one. In other words, we're not meeting face to face in pre writing. We will start digging around in the dirt, so to speak. Writing is an incredibly sloppy process. We're searching for something valuable. Our big idea. This will be the focus of our memoir. We will look at a few techniques that are best to help you get ideas for your memoir ready to be shaping into a draft. The drafting stage allows us to write sloppily, and it helps us begin shaping our memories into drafts things that we can work with. But they don't have to be perfect on the first try. Revision allows this opportunities to re see the draft or to receive what we have written. It allows us to add to rearrange, cut and strengthen our drafts to make them more powerful. The fourth stage editing is also important. This is where we clean up our writing, fixing typographical errors, grammar and spelling. This stage is very challenging to teach in a course like this one again, this is in a synchronous class however, I will provide some. Resource is here when we discuss editing that will help you. Publishing is often considered the last stage of the writing process. This is when we share our final work. You might publish your work for this project on a blawg in a family history project. Or simply you may print it and share it with friends and family. The sky is the limit. As the saying goes in our next video, we're going to talk about fear and frustration, the primary issues that keep us from writing. Until then, this is Christopher Mitchell, and I hope you join me as we continue to navigate this course. 3. Leashing the Monster: Let’s Talk about what Limits Us: welcome back to our skill share course, writing without fear, using life writing to free the writer within you. I'm Christopher Mitchell, and in this video we're going to talk about the challenges we all face when we sit down to write first. A word of encouragement from one of my favorite writers and one of my favorite books. Some of you may know and Lamont, already from the many books that she has written and published several essays and her strong presence on social media. I love this quote from her book Bird by Bird. Some instructions on Writing and life. Let's look at it together. You were lucky to be one of those people who wishes to build sand castles with words who is willing to create a place where your imagination can wander. We build this place with the sand of memories. These castles are our memories and inventiveness made tangible. This is so true of our journey, as writers were so fortunate to have inspiration toe want so badly to express ourselves in this manner. Over the past 10 years, I have asked my writing students to identify the source of their frustrations. What makes riding such a challenging process. These are the five most common responses I've received. The dreaded writer's block followed, of course, by the fear of the blank page thes air always at the top, we struggle to find our way to turn down the anxieties and the pressure we put on ourselves to be perfect. Writing Friends is never perfect, never on the first try or on the 1/100 try. Let's take the pressure off of ourselves now, because in writing there is no such thing as perfection. The fourth comment on this list is something that frustrates everyone. Ernest, anyway, for example, wrote 47 endings to his novel, A Farewell to Arms just to get the words right. That's his quote, not mine. I'm willing to bet that if given the opportunity, he could have rewritten in several more times. So here's a goal for us. Let's drive to find ways to write the beginning, perhaps the middle, perhaps the end in a way that we can live with rather than striving for perfection. The fifth comment is also eye opening. I'm nervous about what I might say. My students are sometimes fearful about upsetting potential readers. Their audience. I always remind them that if they're going to be successful writers, they must be truthful with themselves first. Always you must write with authenticity. You must write truthfully. You're not gonna be satisfied Any other way with your writing and your writing is going to suffer. When I sit down to write, I always try to visualize my fears, anxieties, frustrations and doubts. As a monster unleashed, I must unleashed this monster and lead it around. There will be no more of the monster leading me around. But this isn't only about control. This is about making the monster do some work for me. I want to re channel these fears, these strong emotions and bring them into my writing. I want to make the reader feel what I am feeling. I want them to follow me, my narrator or my protagonist down dark hallways through uncertain doorways. If I can utilise the monster to my benefit, these negative thoughts cannot hurt me. They cannot control me. I will control them by being true to myself and to my memoir by taking pressure off of my shoulders. Free me to write without fear. In the next video, I winter. Do some techniques to help you do the same. We will introduce pre writing and begin finding some ideas for the men. More project. Until then, I'm Christopher Mitchell, and I hope you will continue alongside me as we navigate this course. 4. Stage 1 of the Writing Process: Prewriting for the Memoir: welcome back to our skill share course, writing without fear, using life riding to free the writer within you. I'm Christopher Mitchell, and in this video we will introduce some pre writing techniques that have proven helpful to me as a writer and to my students. First, let's have a look at this image. It is an image of a woman stretching before What we may assume is an athletic event such as a morning jog or perhaps even a marathon. How do you think this image may apply to? What we do is writers take a moment to think about this question, maybe even pause the video here to give yourself time to think. Jane Ulan has written or edited well over 280 books. Perhaps you've read her works, Maybe Al Moon or the devil's Arithmetic. This quote says a lot about how we should start approaching our own writing process. Exercise the writing muscle every day, she says. Even if it is only a letter, notes a titlist, a character sketch, a journal entry writers air like dancers like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up. It's an excellent metaphor for the role of the writer. We have to warm up or exercise the writing muscles. And just like a distance runner in training, we have to invest our time, our passion, our energies to the process. It's this commitment to creating a daily regimen that allows us to make great strides in our work. For the writing, to flow more easily and fully like athletes to we will suffer setbacks. Our writing may not flow well one day. Forgive yourself. When this happens. I know that the next day will bring better results. Above all, we must learn to love the process, not necessarily the product, and understand its place in our lives. Let's talk now about pre writing, specifically three techniques to jump start our writing process. It cannot stress to you enough the importance of this first stage. This is where, as I mentioned in a previous video, we start digging around in the dirt, so to speak, looking for that big idea. We can turn into a memoir our tools that are available to us or called brainstorming clustering, sometimes called mapping and free writing. These techniques provide wonderful opportunities to explore, to discover, possibly even surprised ourselves with what we find. These techniques also allow us to write quickly, sloppily, impetuously. We're concerned with Onley getting ideas onto paper by any means necessary. Pre writing also allows us to write without judgment or self criticism. We're learning to leash the monster. Let's talk about brainstorming first. Here's an example of a simple brainstorming exercise I did earlier today. I gave myself five minutes and wrote feverishly. My topic takes me back to my childhood when I spent cold, snowy days sledding down a wonderful fast hill. I will talk more about this part of my process in the next video. But for now, notice that I listed in short bursts ideas as they came to me. Another tool is called clustering or mind mapping. You start with a central idea and work outwardly in my exercise from earlier today, my main topic was baseball, specifically my memories of it when I was playing baseball as a child. Here you can see three more specific ideas starting to bubble up Little League. My first try outs and my first base hit, which you may have already noticed, is how clustering or mind mapping allows us to develop ideas quickly, but also in a way that allows us to start grouping or organizing them. And again, I will discuss what I found in this five minute clustering exercise in the next video. In our course, now it's your turn. Think about which of the two tools you would like to work with. Find yourself a quiet spot, maybe an old reading chair that you love, maybe set a time or even glancing oclock every so often, we're going to take five minutes to start developing some ideas for our memoir. You can pause the video here to give yourself time to write. Once you've completed the exercise, simply resumed the video. Welcome back. I hope your ideas came easily for you in this exercise. If not, remember, this is a journey. This is about understanding and appreciating the process and learning to make it work for us. Now that you've had a chance to work with either brainstorming or clustering, let's talk about our third tool. Free riding free writing allows us to write continuously for a set amount of time. A writing will resemble sentences and paragraphs at first, but realized this tool allows us to write raw, uninhibited passages quickly and without self judgment. We don't worry ourselves with punctuation or spelling, because again we're pouring as much material as we can onto the blank page. We're freeing ourselves to take risks to flesh out ideas and maybe even surprised ourselves with results. In this slide. Notice how I approached my five minute free right about sledding. I took several ideas from my brainstorming exercise and expounded thumb. I'm stretching my ideas, still searching for my primary idea. In my work, I was not concerned with spelling or grammar. I just wanted to get the ideas down and on the paper quickly. Now it's your turn. Look over your previous exercise. Did you find some memories that you would like to explore? Further pause the video here to give yourself time to do so when you already simply resumed the video. Welcome back. I hope you have success in this exercise. In her next video, I will discuss what successes I found in my own exercises. For now, let's review pre writing is a very important stage in the writing process. Brainstorming, clustering and free riding are three tools we can use to start gathering ideas for our memoir. All three tools require quick, sloppy writing. We're focused entirely on getting ideas on the paper in the process where silencing that inner critic leeching the monster and beginning to write without fear. Until then, this is Christopher Mitchell on, I hope you join me as we continue to navigate this course. 5. Project Demonstration: I share my own prewriting exercises: welcome back to our skill share course, writing without fear, using life writing to free the writer within you. I'm Christopher Mitchell, and in this video I'm going to discuss with you some of the different choices that I made in my own pre writing exercises. These are the same exercises we discussed in the previous video. First, let's look at my simple brainstorming exercise from earlier I mentioned in the previous video that my topic, my main idea, was about sledding during my childhood. I grew up along the Ohio River in a community that often received several inches of snowfall. Each winter, we lived across the street from a gigantic hill we called Fries Hill. It had a steep incline, and on the best snowiest mornings, we would often climb fries hill with our sleds in hand, bundled up from head to toe to spend much of the remainder of the day sledding with our friends, enjoying hot cocoa, crowded sometimes around a fire, telling stories and enjoying a day outside of class. What I did in my five minute brainstorming exercise was list as many of those ideas as I could, just trying to get them down onto paper. And as you can see here, we have quite a few different results, none of which seem to make much sense, at least at first. But to me, let me explain a little about what I found. I've highlighted passages in yellow that really surprised me in this writing. The first example burning tires in the fire department reminds me of the night that I opened my window to see a fire engine climbing fries hill. Some local teenagers place some tires into a bonfire. What I remember is that the Fire Department could not seem to put the fire out. It took several hours, but for my eight year old self to see a fire engine climbing fries Hill is a memory that I will never forget. With its flashing lights, gigantic size and bright red paint, this is an image that I haven't thought about in several years. Another image that I found in this exercise is the image about the flexible flyers. These were the sleds that you sat upon made of wooden metal, much like you would see in an older movie. What I remember most about them was that they really were not effective until late in the day. Me that would take us the entire day to pack down the snow on the hillside with our plastic discs leads what we called saucers and in some cases, cardboard noticed that one has also highlighted here until we impact fries Hill into the fastest track you could imagine again. These were ideas that I haven't thought about in several years. So highlighting these in yellow, these were the ideas that surprised me. Perhaps these are ideas that I could have stretched into a free right had I chosen to do so . That's one of the great things about brainstorming exercises. When we allow ourselves to relax and let our minds go, we can find some really great material, some of which has remained buried for several years. Notice, however, that there is very little organization to these ideas, and there's nothing wrong with that, because again, we're just trying to produce as many ideas as we can about this basic topic. Just getting these ideas down on paper as quickly as possible. And I'm going to briefly discuss my clustering exercise in which I wrote about baseball the game that I love so much as a child as I mentioned, a previous video clustering gives us an opportunity to also push ideas as quickly as possible onto paper. But it also gives it a little bit more organization, a little bit more flow. That isn't to say there is anything wrong with the brainstorming list, but each of these tools conserve different purposes and conserve them well. In this exercise, I started with the basic topic again of baseball. I have three more specific ideas. Start to form my first try outs, Little League, my first base hit. And you can see from here that I have additional ideas associated with those memories. I could continue with this exercise, filling in several more details in each of those particular areas. However, I'm just trying to find a colonel that I can work with something basic for now, to spark a focused memoir you may notice on your screen now that I've put boxes over a few of the different ideas to the far right, the ideas in the red box Tiger Creek tournament, what I refer to as the big time, which means for us this was a very exciting moment. We felt like we were in the major leagues I remember, especially their old times scoreboard made of wood, which you had to change by hand. If I were to begin a free right about this cluster, I would probably focus on the Tiger Creek tournament. I might be able to take some other ideas from this Little League topic that I mentioned here. I think the focus of my memoir would be about that experience. I might talk about this spectacle. The excitement around the tournament, playing in front of several 100 people in a round robin tournament to the far left is a memory that I have also associated with Little League that I've also put it in this box. It mentions my friend Josh, who jumped over the catcher in a baseball game. If you are not familiar with baseball, that's a very rare feat Even for professional baseball players. It's an amazing feat for a 12 year old. This is an idea that I haven't thought about in several years. Josh at that point was our hero. He had saved the game for us and we went on to win 2 to 1 over a league favorite team This is a memory, though, that I would probably stay away from for now. My friend Josh died tragically about 15 years ago, and it's still something that's very painful for me to think about. So as I mentioned also in a previous video, sometimes it's best to leave those painful memories alone. For now, this is one memory, for example, that I would have a lot of trouble writing about. And so, with this clustering exercise, I'm starting to organize ideas. I'm starting to find a center for my memoir. In my free writing exercise, I decided to focus on the sledding that I had written about in my brainstorming exercise. As we mentioned in the previous video, free writing gives us an opportunity to start stretching those memories, taking ideas and seeing how far they'll go. I took five minutes of time to free right about this memory. I didn't worry about punctuation, grammar, spelling any of the things that sometimes inhibit writers and shut us down. Instead, what looks like sentences and paragraphs are really just ideas that are forming on the page . But what I wanted to point out to you again is something that I hadn't thought about in several years. This was almost ritualistic for us in the mornings snow days going to the picture window in our parents house, and just as the free right mentions slinging, opened those white cloth curtains to inspect the morning powder. Often the room waas already well lit from the glow of the night snow dump, which only added to our excitement some warnings. It rivaled waking up on Christmas with the anticipation of what Santa had brought. And while it was an intentional, there are still some ideas here that really surprised me things that I hadn't thought about in several years. For example, I hadn't thought about for many years. What I describe is making a best run. The free right allowed me to go back to think about the ways that we had to navigate around small trees to make the best run we could. I should also point out that a free right can produce along with it material we may not use in our memoir. For me. I've written several free rights over the years, so it's a little bit easier for me to find ideas that I want to use. That's not always the case, but in this example, I feel like I was successful. I would love to see what you wrote about in your own exercises. You're welcome to post these writings to our project Gallery toe. Let other writers see the successes that you had in the course. In the next video, in our course, we will discuss drafting the second stage of the writing process. We will start to shape in the ideas that we found in our pre writing exercises into a workable drafts. Until then, this is Christopher Mitchell on. I hope you continue to join me as we navigate this course. 6. Stage 2 of the Writing Process: Sloppy Drafts : welcome back to our skill share course, writing without fear, using life writing to free the writer within you. I'm Christopher Mitchell, and in this video we will discuss drafting what you should know. First and foremost about drafting is that it could be very messy. That's okay, though. When we write a first draft, we aren't striving for perfection. We're striving for growth and with some hard work, the maturation of the ideas we developed during the pre writing stage. Two gifted writers provide inspiration in this video. First, Susan Sohn Tag writes this about her process. I don't write easily or rapidly. My first draft usually has only a few elements worth keeping. I have to find with those are and build from them and throw out what doesn't work or what simply is not alive. Jennifer Egan also mentions the importance of writing badly. I haven't had trouble with writer's block, she says. I think it's because my process involves riding very badly. My first drafts air filled with lurching cliche aid, riding outright, flailing around writing that doesn't have a good voice or any voice. But then there will be good moments. Here are two well respected and talented authors showing us how they approached the process . Susan saw Ntags suggests that she writes multiple drafts, which is a common practice among writers. Remember, though, that the purpose of the first draft, where the rough draft is to keep what works, What makes us feel something? What clarifies memories or ideas in order to do so, we must look at what Jennifer Egan calls bad writing. Among the cliches in the lifeless language, we will find meaningful work writing additional drafts, which we will discuss in the next video. About revision will turn up even better work as we start to see the draft take shape as we see and hear the voice of the work emerge as you begin writing your first draft. Keep these ideas in mind. There is no such thing as a perfect first try. Now let's mention a few pointers to make your memoir really stand out. First, you may consider using the five senses, giving your writing something tangible. Next. You might also look at the structure of your memoir. Do you want to write about events chronologically or as they happened, or would you rather start with a life changing moment and use a series of flashbacks to reveal key details about what led up to that moment. Also, let's mention local color and regionalism. Two concepts best demonstrated in fiction writing, but both lend themselves well to the memoir. For example, to use these tools successfully, think about what's makes the setting of your memoir unique. Try to capture the dialect. Try to capture the things that give the area its character to see. This performed beautifully. Look no further than Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird and the way she captures the feel of a rural southern Alabama community in the 19 thirties. Last consider how closely you want to get to your subject by nature. Memoirs air. Highly subjective. They often depend on our interpretation of events, what makes them important, what shaped them, or how the events shaped us. So depending on your topic, you might want to ask yourself just how truthful you're going to be. This might require a great deal of soul searching, but it's worth exploring. If you're riding requires this level of introspection. How closely do you want to get to your subject? Also, can you write about it? fairly and accurately to practice these skills, you should look over the work you did in your pre writing exercises. Look through your free right for a possible colonel or central idea you want to pursue in your draft. Start from there. Let's see where the writing takes you. In the next video, I will share my own experience with the drafting stage of the writing process. I assure you it will be sloppy. There will likely be some lifeless language, but that's OK for now, we have opportunities ahead for improvement. Until then, I'm Christopher Mitchell, and I'm glad you've chosen to join me as we navigate this course. 7. Project Demonstration: I share my draft of my memoir: welcome back to our skill share course, writing without fear, using life writing to free the writer within you. I'm Christopher Mitchell, and in this video, I want to share with you some excerpts from my first draft. Along the way, I will talk about what this part of the process was like for me, such as the challenges I faced and the aspects of the writing that I thought went well. To begin my draft, I reviewed my pre writing exercises looking for a spark, something that would start a fire in my mind and push me to write. I wanted something that had surprised me or something that I could explore. I discovered some ideas about snow days in my free right. The's right is I hadn't thought about in some time as an adult. I look back on these memories with joy, and I feel like I'm ready to discover why these memories hold such importance to me. So I sat down to write, I found a comfortable chair, a note pad and guess what happened. I started feeling that pressure again. In this case, I felt the pressure associated with the opening line. The first sentence the hook that intrigues the reader and makes them want to follow you through the rest of the draft. So I did a little bit more free riding, looking for meaning. It took me some time, but I found it opening sentence that I can live with. For now. I think it does a fair job in the rest of the paragraph. I wanted to capture that frantic, joyful scene with a handful of details to satisfy the senses. Allow me to read it now. On snowy mornings as a child, the picture window in my living room was like a gateway to another world. If snow was in the overnight forecast, my younger brother and I took restless sleep, tossing and turning with the same anticipation we reserved for Christmas morning. We wakened early, drawn to the soft, bright early morning light filling the window, we tore open the soft white calico curtains to study the powder accumulating on fries. Hill, the second paragraph in my draft, adds more to the setting. It also provides perspective and invites the reader to learn more about this unique experience. That's also pause for a moment and mentioned that frustrated writers sometimes think they have little of interest offer their readers. They think their experiences air mundane, uneventful. I remember feeling this way many years ago as I was learning about writing, but what I found is this feeling isn't true. When I shared memories about snowy Ohio Valley winters in one of my writing seminars, a student from New Mexico raised his hand and said, This is fascinating by Winters were so different where I grew up. So remember that your experiences are unique and definitely worth sharing. If you've never been sledding before, think about it in that capacity. There's so many things that we can teach each other. In the second paragraph. I'm also trying to use over inflated language. I'm trying to capture the thrill of this exciting moment through the eyes of a child. I'm using some repetition here. Notice the phrase to the young imagination. Twice in the draft, I want my readers to pay special attention here to the ideas of magic and local heroes, again capturing the thrill of the moment. In a later passage, I try to capture some of the slang of the time these events happened in the mid 19 eighties , and I wanted to reveal that by showing you rather than telling you through Brian's dialogue , let me read this part of the draft here. Back when my dad was sledding here, Brian said, They get these monster snowstorms, man, back in the seventies that we get some rad runs down this hill. Hey, did you know it got so cold that the Ohio River froze over Back then? Brian was about 16 scruffy and a member of the ragtag crew, a group of kids who lived just on the edge of our neighborhood and often found trouble when they ventured away from home. Brian seemed like a free spirit, and he never gave us any static. In the next paragraph, I create some tension contrast in Brian's free spirited nature with his father's troubles. Also, I'm bringing in a darker element here, the adult world and its problems into this childhood wonderland. Remember, this is a first draft, and I'm treating it as one of discovery. How did these memories reveal themselves? To me? These are ideas that I'm exploring. How am I starting to make meaning of them? If I were to write a second draft, I might start by looking at areas worth expanding were cutting out completely, areas that don't make sense, areas that are still fuzzy in my mind. We will discuss this more in the next video about revision. For now, though, think of this draft as a rough piece of cut wood. I'm going to shape it, whittle it, shave it, creating a more vivid work. As I go in a second draft, I might even create an outline of my work trying to see ahead to where I might take the draft next. As I constantly shape and reshape until I have something that I think is satisfactory. Like I mentioned a few moments ago, our next video will provide an introduction to revision the third stage of the writing process. Until then, I'm Christopher Mitchell, and I'm glad you've chosen to join me as we navigate this course. 8. Stage 3 of the Writing Process: Revising to “Re-see” and Strengthen the Draft: welcome back to the skill share course, writing Without Fear, using life writing to free the writer within you. I'm Christopher Mitchell, and in this video we will introduce the third stage of the writing process, which is revision. One of the best ways I learned to approach revision is to think of it as an opportunity to recieve the draft for clarity, cohesion and consistency. This works particularly well. If you could put some distance between you and the draft to be more specific. Revision can work best when you put the writing away for a while, perhaps a week or more so that when you start to revise it, you can see it with a fresh perspective. Here is Neil Gaiman's take on the approach. The best advice I can give on this is once it's done to put it away until you can read it with new eyes. When you're ready, pick it up and read it as if you've never read it before. If there are things you weren't satisfied with as a reader, go in and fix them as a writer. That's revision. That said, we don't always have the luxury of time away, so let's discuss four ways to revise our memoir. Thes ways include expanding, cutting, reorganizing and replacing. Before we can expand or cut passages in our draft, it is best to analyze the work sentence by sentence checking for places that will benefit from this kind of change. You might consider underlining or highlighting passages or sentences that you want to expand or cut. You might look for places in the draft where you can add details. To make an image more vivid, you might cut details that seem too wordy or unimportant to the focus of your writing. I used a metaphor in a previous video that compares writing toe wiggling. We're shaving a piece of wood. The more we worked the wood, the more practical were applicability. Its purpose will become. Reorganization is 1/3 approach to revision. You might need to move passages around, taking sentences from paragraph three. The work better in Paragraph two. This is one way to approach reorganization. We're doing this to give the draft more cohesion. For example, you might need to create a balance between the narration, the dialogue and the action in the draft Reorganization will allow us to do so the fourth approach is replacing. You might need to replace language choices by replacing cliches with more unique phrasing. You might take out over used words or words that just don't fit the tone of your draft. Replace them with words that make your writing jump off the page by connecting emotionally with the reader. One revision exercise I practice with my students allows us to revisit both the pre writing and drafting stages. I compare it to peeling away layers of an onion. The layers conceal other layers metaphorically. Then, when we peel back, are writing, we spend time getting to the bottom of an idea. Take, for example, this sentence from my first draft to the young imagination. This is where local sledding legends were born. I want to peel back some layers on this sentence. There's more to the memory here to do so. I will free right for 5 to 10 minutes, discovering what my memory holds about this sentence, I could discuss the many different personalities who sledded on Fries Hill, for example, I could talk about the daredevils who sometimes traveled so fast down the hill they went airborne, sacrificing life and limb. I could write about the quirky characters who brought broken down cardboard refrigerator boxes, his sleds and still somehow made them work. Once I'm finished with my free right, I will sift through the free right, looking for meaningful ideas that I could then draft. If I like what I find in the draft, I could then shape up the language so that it matches the work I've already revised. This is another way to see that the writing process is recursive. We can revisit previous stages is needed. In the next video, I will demonstrate thes four practices in my own draft. I hope seeing the demonstration proves helpful to you as you revise your own draft. Until then, I'm Christopher Mitchell, and I'm glad you've chosen to join me as we continue to navigate this course. 9. Project Demonstration: I share my revision techniques for my memoir: welcome back to our skill share course, writing without fear, using life writing to free the writer within you. I am Christopher Mitchell, and in this video I wanted to show you how I chose to begin revising my draft. I tried to use the four techniques described in the previous video about revision, adding, cutting, reorganizing and replacing. Here's what I've done so far. In the first paragraph of my draft, I found an idea worth expanding. I also wanted to replace some of the language to make the draft more consistent. Here's what I have so far. I replace the word gateway with entryway because it felt less imposing. It felt like something more inviting to a child's eye. I also added a few sentences that showed our disappointment when the forecast failed to bring good sledding conditions. I hope this stark contrast makes the soft, snowy white descriptions stand out. Even Mawr in the reader's mind, Let me read it now. On snowy mornings as a child, the picture window in my living room was like an entryway to another world. If snow is in the overnight forecast, my younger brother and I took wrestle asleep, dreaming with the same anticipation we reserved for Christmas morning. We awakened early, drawn to the soft, bright early morning light filling the window. We tore open the cotton calico curtains to study the powder accumulating on fries hill. Sometimes the hill glowed soft white, with a fluffy, delicate snowfall awaiting the den and bustle of the morning's first letters. Other times, the snow didn't come, leaving an ugly tableau with faint traces of white covering the winter burned evergreens and brown grass. In another passage on practicing, cutting and reorganizing, doing so will improve the cohesion of the draft. This passage received much more treatment than I had anticipated, but I wanted to cut and reorganize to make the writing clear. I will read it now. Fries Hill boasted the sharpest incline of any hill in our tiny riverside neighborhood. A child's life growing up in the heart of the Ohio Valley was a remarkable experience, especially if you were a sledder to the young imagination. Thes rolling Appalachian foothills held as much magic is any slope in Park City, Utah or Vail, Colorado, to the young imagination. This is where local sledding legends were born. As you continue to revise your own draft. Know that you could spend many hours on revision. But remember our goal for the course. We're practicing to make writing easier for us to alleviate the frustrations and fears that inhibit us. On that note, revised until you can live with your draft, that's the best practice for our course. In the next video, we will discuss editing the fourth stage of the writing process. Until then, I'm Christopher Mitchell, and I'm glad you've chosen to join me as we navigate this course. 10. Stage 4 of the Writing Process: Editing for Clarity & Consistency: welcome back to our skill share course, writing without fear, using life writing to free the writer within you. I'm Christopher Mitchell, and in this video we're going to look at the fourth stage of the writing process, which is editing. This is the stage in which we start cleaning up the revised draft. We look for typographical errors, spelling mistakes in grammar issues. In an asynchronous course like this one, teaching editing is especially challenging. We do not meet face to face, nor do we have a virtual environment where we could workshop that raft. Instead, I will focus on giving tried and true advice and best practices for editing. I will also mention some good manuals of style and websites to help you learn more about grammar and usage. The first and most effective tool for editing is reading your memoir allowed. Doing So will provide you the opportunity to hear your writings intricacies, to hear turns of phrase. Above all, you will hear your memory spring to life on the written page For the editor in us, reading, the memoir allowed lets us hear awkward phrases. It forces our I to slow down long enough to catch typos and grammar mistakes. As you read your memoir, concentrate your effort on each line, each phrase sifting through your writing to examine key details. Now it's your turn. Pause a video here to allow yourself time to edit your memoir. Read your memoir allowed looking for examples of needless repetition or places where you may have repeated yourself. Also, look for grammar mistakes, typographical errors in spelling problems When you're ready. A. NPAs the video to proceed. Welcome back. I hope this exercise proved helpful. Reading. Writing allowed also allows you to hear the voice in your writing, and the more you practice it, the more you read your papers allowed. The stronger your writing voice will become, especially if you combine these techniques and editing with drafting and revising a few of the other stages we've talked about in this course. Now let's talk briefly about writing manuals. These books provide opportunities to see correct form and writing for a memoir project such as this one. We might use them sparingly. You might use them to see basic rules of punctuation and sentence structure. Should you have interest. The Little Brown Handbook is an old standby. Strunk and White's. The Elements of style has been around for several decades, but it still proves beneficial to writers. You might also look at websites like Produce Universities, Online Writing Lab, the Owl and the University of Illinois at Urbana Champagnes Writers Workshop. These sites are updated fairly regularly and provide free trusted resource is in the next and final video. In our course, we will briefly discuss publication and review a few of the techniques and tools we utilized in this course. Until then, this is Christopher Mitchell on. I hope you will join me in the last video in this course. 11. Stage 5 of the Writing Process: Publishing & the Course Wrap-Up: welcome back for the last time, to the skill share course, writing Without Fear, using life riding to free the writer within you. I am Christopher Mitchell, and in this final video, we're going to discuss publication and then review a few important concepts that we learned in the course. First. Congratulations. You've worked hard to get to this point. In our course, you have a completed memoir ready to be shared. Here are a few ways you might consider doing so. First. Share it with a loved one. You might solicit their feedback or simply allow them to read and enjoy. You might consider printing a copy and saving it as a family keepsake so that future generations of your family can learn about you in your own words. You might publish it on a website or a personal blawg and invite a global audience to discover it. Of course, if you prefer to keep your men more private, that's fine as well. If you are willing to share your memoir or any part of this project, please consider posting your work to our project gallery. This allows future students an opportunity to discover the course before I sign off. Let's review some key points about the writing process and how we can use it to silence in her critics and self doubt about our writing. Most importantly, writing is never perfect. Stop putting pressure on yourself to turn out masterful riding on the first. Try writing a sloppy and messy learn to embrace the process for what it is. For example, to leave you with one last quote of inspiration, Ernest Hemingway once wrote, Were all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master. Next to remember that the writing process is recursive, There are five stages to writing, and it's a good idea to begin with pre writing and work your way through the rest of the process. That doesn't mean we can't revisit stages is needed. If you're struggling to write that first draft, you might need to do some more pre writing to help the ideas flow more easily. If your revision work is cumbersome or feels like it's heading in the wrong direction, you might need to write another sloppy draft. Doing so might help reveal new ideas you can build upon last know that writing improves when you practice it often try to develop a routine in which you sit down, perhaps in a comfortable chair with a favorite hot beverage every day for an hour or so to practice the craft. I have enjoyed teaching the skill share course. Thank you again, and I hope this course has set you on the path to become a more confident writer.