The exercises in the class pushed me into ways of writing I had never even thought about before. I was skeptical at first, but then tried them only to realize that integrating that specific writing into larger works was the most interesting writing I had ever done.
— Catherine Baird
This course provides an incredible resource of knowledge and experience to guide would-be creative writers like myself.
— Tanya Clarke
Once I started the Story Course, I found a major leap in quality in my writing, which is beyond exciting. Most interesting is what I noticed while trying to read a novel while on a flight: the basic premise is intriguing, but the writer does nearly all the things you recommend against: mediation, summary, explaining, flat dialogue. I could finally see exactly why. Thank you. I'm excited to see where my own work might take me now that I’m breaking some of these same bad habits!
— Carolyn Cooke
As a new writer and as a writer who is not “trained” in any way, this course introduced me to elements in writing (opening lines, dialogue, point of view, etc.) through fun exercises and by exposing me to a variety of writers. Energy begets energy and writing begets writing. I felt “in the flow” throughout the course and wrote so many pieces that I am excited to polish for submission.
— Donna Costa
I teach creative writing in a high school, but I felt like my own writing was getting to be a chore and feeling a bit stale. I'm on Lesson Three now, and I’m finding I’m excited every day to set aside some time for my own writing. The writing activities are so well laid out, that I don’t even have to think. The writing just spills out.
— Kerry Craven
The Story Course and Sarah’s guidance fuelled me through a crucial time and continue to inform how I write, and why, and when, and whether. Not to mention where. I have nothing but excitement for new Story Course students — you warn them the experience can be life-changing, right?
— Paige Cooper, author of Giller-nominated Zolitude
On Lesson Four of the Story Course and I wrote the BEST FIRST draft of my life today!
— Danielle Daniel, author of Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox and The Dependent
“I’m so glad I decided to take this course. I haven’t written (creatively) in a long time, and I can’t figure out why. All of a sudden, just by being here, I’m starting to write again, and most importantly, I’m feeling excited about it.”
“Sarah, I just finished the second week of Lesson Three on Character and I'm so excited! I've experienced a couple of big breakthroughs after doing all of the exercises thus far in the course. First, I easily drop into the "zone" when I sit down to write. I used to fidget and calendar and check emails — anything to put off the big question — is it going to be a good day or a bad writing day? I no longer frame my writing time in those terms now that I've learned to just open my mind and write. Second, I am no longer nearly as intimidated by creating character as I was. If I ever feel that way again, I have all of the excellent tools in Lesson 3 to get me back on track. Thank you! Thank you!”
“I wanted to write specifically about Lesson Four, Part Two. The dialogue exercises were incredible for me. Like many, I fear writing dialogue. The voices are either too much my own, or feel like caricatures. The exercise of writing as pure dialogue, then pure exposition, and weaving the pieces together with dialogue leading was honestly a revelatory technique. I feel like this was a bit of a breakthrough for me, and a technique I will come back to often. Thank you, Sarah!”
“Right in Lesson One I felt like I broke through to something. I started to trust myself, and what I felt I had to say. And that I could just write. I could just sit down and write. I didn’t have to be so resistant or spend so much time and energy fighting it. I could just write. And that was enough.”
My state of mind changed when I touched pen to paper again and rekindled the joy of freely flowing a story from my heart through my hand. Over the years, I forgot how to do that, and if I’m being honest, I found every reason not to even try. There’s something in the way Sarah dissects the task of tapping into your creativity that’s easy on the mind and effortless for the soul. This class is an investment in your endless creativity. And it’s worth every penny.
— Tracey Selingo
This beautiful, lovingly created, masterful program helped me connect deeply with my voice, restore my love of and relationship with writing, and understand the craft of writing in a nuanced, full bodied way. It’s the best gift I could have offered myself and my writing life.
— Jill Goodacre
Ientered a March Break competition with the WCDR. I used the techniques I’d learned from your wonderful course. The story took many weeks to ruminate and ‘stew’ over before I actually wrote it in just a few days. I ended up winning a scholarship! I had never, ever before entered my writing for anything! Before doing your program, I would never have thought I COULD do anything like this.
My family and I were all leaping about the house like carnival time! We were so joyful and I felt totally validated in my writing. Thank you Sarah for everything you’ve taught me. I couldn’t have done it without you.
— Dawn Brown
The best changes I’ve seen in my writing process since finishing the Story Course: I don’t complain about writing, I don’t fear writing, I have fun writing, and I’m energized by writing. None of those things are directly about craft, and I don’t know if I’m a “good” writer now or not. I really don’t care. I think I am a more skilled writer after the Story Course. The places in my story feel touchable. The characters seem more unpredictable and self-directed. The plots are more surprising. That’s part of what makes the writing fun. The Story Course was worth every penny and every moment for me. I plan on taking the course again and again. The best thing I can say about it is that I’m happy now every single time I write. Thanks Sarah for the marvellous course that values writers at every level who are motivated by love.
— Michelle Flythe
This transformed how I approach writing. I love where it takes me. You encourage individual creativity and offer the tools to go forward.
— Naomi Adelson
Just wanted to say that I just finished Lesson Two and WOW. It really blasted my imagination wide open and very quickly brought in story ideas that I now can’t wait to pursue. What a tremendous resource this exercise will be — for like, EVER!! Thanks for the Story Course. I am enjoying the work immensely. It has somehow instilled some crazy confidence that allowed me to say “I’m a writer” out loud just the other day.
— Kathy Martens, author of Born Again, Again
I am about halfway through the Story Course, and have experienced any number of “aha” moments along the way. It is obvious to say that the concept of freewriting changed my writing practice when I stopped resisting. It is also obvious that the selected readings have opened me up to a world of gorgeous literature and styles to emulate. But something happened in the Lesson Four writing practice that I wasn’t expecting. I had been avoiding practice 2b, because it forced me out into the world to listen and observe, which seemed messy and uncomfortable to an introvert like me. I finally brought myself to do it and found that I didn’t want to stop. Why is it always the things we resist that change us the most? Anyway, I wanted to let you know how much I am loving the course, how glad I am that I spent the money and am currently spending the time, and how it has changed me in so many little ways by pushing me beyond my comfortable safe places. This is a course I will go back to again and again. Thank you so much.
— Lindsey Savino
“Lesson Five: Plot and Drift. Half way through the word pair exercise, I saw the unconscious, metaphorical connection my mind was making. I would never have consciously paired italics/runner, envelope/conditions, whiskers/graveyard, anger/pickle, saxophone/cobwebs. Now it seems so obvious.”
“It has been truly transformative. One of the best investments I have ever made in myself and my writing. Your instinct for approaching this from a beginners mind and remembering all the challenges and pitfalls you overcame as you emerged as the sensitive, observant, gifted writer you are is incredible. You see inside the head of the wannabe writer and helped me to understand myself. This awareness you create is the key to moving me forward and following you to a place where writing becomes more fun, accessible and most importantly, something I actually do rather than just think about doing. Thank-you so much.”
“The Story Course is for you if writing has become that friend you haven’t called for a while, that friend you love but don’t see nearly as often as you would like, that friend you have tea with every week but would love to know better. Maybe writing is that friend you don’t even know yet, the one you’ve been too shy to say hello to. That was my relationship with writing before Sarah, and I am so glad that I took the risk and asked writing out for tea.”
Day six of self-induced writing haze, finished the Story Course Lesson One, eight pages deep and already three new branching project ideas.
— Spencer Ainsleigh
Sarah Selecky’s course is the best online classroom I’ve found so far.
— Maggie Bolitho
I began this course with trepidation. I’ve never written fiction, I am an older newbie, and I don’t like exposing myself to strangers. Well, having finished the course I can no longer say I haven’t written fiction. I wrote a story! And I understand some of the things that go into fiction writing. Having new skills in writing opens some exciting opportunities to keep me out of trouble in these golden years.
— Ardis Mayo
The Story Course was my lifeline back into writing after a long defeating dry spell a few years back. So, so happy I stumbled into such a supportive and vibrant community.
— Lindsey Smith
I feel happy about what I am learning because some of the criticisms I have been given about my work finally make sense. Not only that, but I am growing in confidence that I will be able to edit and improve my own work as I continue to understand and learn, and internalize more of your lessons.
— Sharon Whitehead
I’m grateful to this program. It inspired a renewed commitment and discipline that led me to submit a story to a recent competition, among other great regular practices. Happy to share that my submission was one of ten finalists. It was an encouraging and affirming kick in the rear to keep going. And it all began with your program.
— Nikki Reklitis
I just bought (and did the first lesson) and am absolutely loving it. It feels like being in your living room again! I recognize some of the exercises, but I now realize that every time I write through them, they yield different responses. Amazing tools for getting un-stuck, and just getting my pen moving. I particularly love the course because it’s something I can return to again and again. Thanks for creating this. It’s awesome.
— Julia Zarankin
Sarah, I am so grateful that you have gone so far out of the box in your shepherding of writers everywhere. The Story Course is not just a writing course, I see now. It is a paradigm changer. I think back to your vehement reaction to my asking if I was doing the “right” thing by not doing an MFA. You told me “yes” but you also put the golden ticket in my hand.
— Frances Phillips
The Story Course is meeting a deep need that writers have: to create freely enough that they can get really good. So many writers stop themselves because they have super-high standards. Sarah’s program acknowledges your desire to write high-quality stories like the ones she includes in the readings, and she shows you how to gently bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
— Alison Gresik
Iam finding this course to be really well-structured, and remarkably intuitive. But the remarkable thing for me in Lesson Three (Character) was how I found myself really not enjoying the work, and kind of hating the experience, feeling bored, wondering what I’m doing with the writing. And then I noticed your video (which I hadn’t noticed at first). It was so bang on, and at just the right moment. You seemed to really get that character work is close, deeply personal work, and hard. And for me, who has a very well-fed critic living inside, your advice to “cultivate space in your mind that is judgment free” and to “look away from the opinion part of your mind” was profoundly liberating at that moment. Thank you.
— Barbara Berson
I am an educator by trade, and have been writing for years. I have never had anything published because I write for the sheer joy of it — to express myself through my passion for words and ideas. Sometimes I share pieces with my high school students, but I have never felt that my works were ready for publication — that they needed something more to help them stand out amongst a sea of mediocre. In Lesson One of the Story Course, I revisited and experimented with freewriting, and I have learned that writing organically might be just what is missing in my own work. I am re-evaluating my writing and allowing the creative drive to take me in different directions — maybe even to the next step of actually submitting something for publication. I am feeling inspired by Lesson One in the course and can’t wait to see how the other lessons may change my writing.
— Julie Martin
I have been stuck on the Lesson Two assignment for three weeks because I had no connection to any of the prompts and couldn’t get past your first line. Today, when I finally sat down to work on the assignment, the words came and I wrote. And then, anxious to move along, turned ahead to Lesson Three and saw your video first. You answered my reason for not going ahead with writing: judgment. I was so glad to hear the words on the video and know why I was reluctant to write. Thank you for your words.
— Sonia Revitt
— Margaret Atwood
This course totally opened my eyes. So many of the exercises served as amazing triggers for ideas. The development of the course worked well for me too. They were all such different approaches for me and totally inspired me. I already have recommended it to friends!
— Robbie Grunwald
I’m not sure anymore how many times I’ve done Lesson One of the Story Course, but each time I do it, my writing gets a little crazier and a lot better. I just let the words come. I didn’t give a damn what emerged. Sarah, you are changing everything. For good.
— Steph VanderMeulen
I feel very lucky to have found your website and the Story Course. Even though I’m not yet halfway through the course, I can safely say that your wise words and fun exercises in each lesson have changed my perspective on things and brought back a long lost joy of writing.
— Carol Peterson
I find myself slowing down towards the end of the Story Course, not because I am not thrilled with the content but because I am now only two lessons away from completion and like a good book that you simply don’t want to end, I am doing my best to go slow to savour the final few hours.
I have told several of my friends about the Story Course. I preface this by reminding my friends that I have 11 years of university to my name and I know a good teacher when I find one. All of those 11 years were spent writing technical and formal essays. I had no creative writing experience to my name until I found your course last month. I am really excited about the places and people I have written and imagined inside your course materials. Thank you Sarah — you definitely have the gift for teaching and inspiring.
— Renee Miller
The course is brilliantly constructed, interesting, and varied. I loved the writing exercises and, what’s more, I actually did them. Even though I was super busy with work, I was writing and I felt challenged and alive. Happy. Congratulations, Sarah, on putting together such an inspirational writing program.
— Monna McDiarmid
The Story Course is pure magic. It has given me a renewed sense of freedom, brought me back to the basics of pen and paper, helped me unlock my memory, improved my critical reading skills, completely changed the way I feel about practising writing, and changed my mentality from ‘must get published’ to ‘must write something true and valuable’.
— Suzannah Windsor
Two weeks into [the Story Course]. My pages are multiplying. It's like a Zumba class for writing muscles.
— Emmet Matheson
Lesson Five is a beautiful surprise. It is the “loving companion” lesson. Lesson Five helps me stop, slow down, breathe, and write and feel cared for. It is also the lesson where I get to examine previous work and create something new. It’s amazing, and I know that scenes I create in Lesson Five are staying with me, and will find the right story to show up in.
— Mary Nicholson
The Story Course is exactly what we needed. My husband and I did a power retreat, where we did the first three lessons over the weekend and spent time working through all of our characters, updating scenes and going back to the drawing board on several key things. Then, for the next three days, we powered through the other lessons before and after work. We are super excited to keep moving forward! Thanks for such a great program!
— Stormy Sweitzer, author of The Drowning Shark
This course has given me the encouragement to be the writer I have always wanted to be. Writing is something I have always wanted to do, since I was a little girl, but got pushed to the wayside when school, work, and life in general got in the way. I have been slowly working though the lessons, enjoying them but not wanting them to end. My biggest obstacle is myself, I will find ways to push writing to the side, rather than face feeling uncomfortable before I begin. Yet every time I do sit down and write, I am amazed how ideas naturally come to me and I feel so energized when I am finished. The plot and drift assignment came together for me so beautifully and unexpectedly. I used pieces from stories and characters I had created in previous lessons and wove them together in ways I never could have anticipated. I wrote consciously and with intention. I am proud and invigorated by what I have created.
— Stephanie Keddy
This week I had an amazing moment. I was reading one of the show and tell stories and it sparked with the current theme of a story I am now writing. From there a ricochet went off and connected with three or four other ideas to carry through on my theme. It was quite amazing — like fireworks going off in my brain. I’ve only had that happen a few times before over many years and it always feels incredibly exciting. So, thank you for that!
— K. Lorraine Kiidumae
I’ve been through an MFA program in fiction, sat in countless workshops, and read more books on craft than I can count, but this video was by far one of the most helpful pieces of writing advice I’ve ever heard. As I was watching the video, I kept thinking, “This is gold. This is absolute gold.” This advice is practical and actionable, which is something I devour since a lot of writing advice can be sort of abstract.
— Kristin Offiler
This course is really making me realize that previous creative writing courses I’ve taken have lacked specificity. Those instructors were either unwilling or unable to give such practical, concrete advice on the craft. I’m very grateful to be hearing it now!
— Nicole Baute
“I enrolled in this class to help myself get over my judgment, resistance, and self consciousness when faced with a blank page. Your lecture helped me to see that I'm still doing the things that are holding me back — even in this course. Thank you for opening my eyes.”
“It is helping me in just the way I needed help: unloosing my imagination and sharpening my practice discipline. Lesson 6 in particular was an eye-opener: I didn't think those 100 sentences would add up to anything, but they did — and the exercise broke me out of my usual explain-too-much habit. I think I'll do it again with another character.”
“Since starting the Story Course, I am in better shape than I have been in a long time because getting myself to my pencil and paper is a struggle. I would rather do 30 crunches than pick up that pencil most of the time. But, once I do, once I start, I get lost in it and I feel like I am in the only place I want to be. And then, it's so hard for me to leave that place ... The Story Course is exactly what I needed to get back to the place I love.”