Two Things That Are Missing From Most Writing Education

I’ve been a writer since I was old enough to hold a pencil (and a reader for just as long). Writing has not only been a life-long passion of mine, but it’s something I’ve always been deeply interested in.

More so than any other subject on the planet (though as a multi-passionate authorpreneur, I’ve dabbled in a lot of things and will continue to do so).

So I’ve taken writing classes. A ton of them.

When I was 11 years old, I took a mystery writing class offered through my local continuing education office. When I was in college, I took every single fiction class and creative writing class that was offered. When I graduated, I found continuing education offices in my local area that offered fiction writing classes. And I have invested in pretty much every book on writing I could get my hands on.

Two things I’ve discovered:

  • Most classes (and books) are focused too much on the writing part, but not enough on the storytelling part
  • There’s no real integration of the information

Too Focused On the Writing

We’re writers–that’s what we do. Best, in many cases, and that means we know how to write. We’re already good writers.

Do we need to improve? Sure. Because if you’re not constantly growing, are you really living? Improvement is always a good thing.

But do you need more training in being a better writer?


I mean, maybe. Maybe you do need more training in being a better writer.

But when improving your writing is happening at the expense of learning what really matters–aka: how to write a damn good story–that’s where most writing education goes wrong.

And as a writing teacher and story coach, it drives me crazy! We don’t need to be teaching writers how to write better dialogue or describe things better if they can’t even come up with a decent plot for a story.

No, we need to be teaching them the basics, the foundational things that will make or break you as a writer and most especially as a novelist.

You can write the best, most beautiful fucking prose the world has ever seen. Your prose can bring tears to everyone’s eyes, and it still makes no difference if what you have is an episodic narrative, void of a core dramatic arc, antagonist or even stakes of any kind.

Because it’s not enough. You need both good writing skills and a knowledge of the principles of storytelling.

Don’t rest on beautiful prose. Go further. Go the extra mile that most writers don’t go.

Learn craft.

No Integration of the Information

The other place where writing education goes wrong is in the execution of it. Most classes will teach you from a book and then make you write stories and read them to each other for feedback.

Problem is, that feedback is coming from other people who know as much about writing stories as you do, maybe even less. And the teacher may know what goes into a good story, but most don’t know how to explain it or teach it in a way that connects with the writer.

And so you go on writing good prose, and sharing your stories for feedback from other emerging writers who haven’t published anything, and you rest your entire writing dream on that as your foundation.

The problem isn’t with you, either. It’s with the teaching, with most of the fiction writing classes and workshops that are out there.

It’s with the integration not being there.

Integration means it’s part of you. Like your arm or leg. It’s just who you are.

And if you want to be a bestselling author with millions of fans who buy your books and write 5-star reviews, you’ve gotta make storytelling integrated in your being.

It has to be who you are, at a deep core level.

Authors who churn out a lot of books have story in their blood.

You integrate craft not just by studying it, but by implementing it. Practicing using it and then getting in-the-moment, real-time feedback to help you see what’s working, what’s not and how to fix it.

If you’re taking classes where this isn’t happening, you’ll never be able to integrate it. Because integrating can only come from doing something over and over and over again.

I integrated story in me from years of writing stories and working with other writers on their stories and studying popular movies and published novels to see how they do it.

For me now, the integration is seamless. I am story and story is me.

This is the level of education I want to bring to the writing world. It’s the level of education I believe emerging novelists need if they want to be professional authors with staying power.

The Next Level In Fiction Writing Education

This year I launched Students of Story, an online portal for emerging novelists who want to go pro. It’s a place to get over your shit, get educated in how to write kick-ass novels, and get support and feedback to help you revise and get your book out there.

In this membership site, you have access to the most important things you need as an emerging author:

  • Training in the craft of novel writing (so you can stay on top of your game)
  • Pro writer mindset (to keep the limiting beliefs and negative thoughts away)
  • Authorpreneur prep (for when you’re ready to publish!)
  • Access to a pro author and story development coach AND a community of like-minded emerging authors who all have similar goals (so you can get feedback that will improve your story and make you a better storyteller)

We do live workshops in the group once a month and are even working through the training in craft together.

It has become the ultimate place to be for emerging novelists who are committed to going pro.

And I’m insanely proud to be leading this group. I’ve dreamed of being part of a group of serious emerging novelists who are all committed to being professional authors. No bullshit, no excuses. Just ass-in-chair, get your writing done, get feedback, fix it up and publish it.

When I couldn’t find that group anywhere I created it, and in a virtual space where you can access it from anywhere in the whole world (internet connection needed).

Are you:

  • Done with your excuses?
  • Sick of procrastinating?
  • Ready to get inspired from the inside?
  • Committed to doing the work and getting your story out into the world?

Then definitely check out Students of Story. We’d love to have you join us.

And right now you can get your first 30 days for only $5! Learn more here.

Featured image courtesy of Jacob Bøtter

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