Ihave nothing but excitement for those students who’ll get to write this fall—you’ll warn them the experience can be life-changing, right?
— Paige Cooper, author of Zolitude,
Giller-nominated and finalist for the Governor's General Award for Fiction
Although I’ve done many intense weeklong writing workshops with Giller and Booker nominated authors, my experience in last fall’s Story Intensive was one of the best writing courses I’ve taken.
There are plenty of courses available to help you learn the craft of writing, but few of them challenge you to think and feel differently about your relationship with your writing process. The relationship is the hard part, and it has the power to determine whether you write, or whether you just think about writing. This course is like the couples therapy you and your writing didn't know you needed.
— Crystal Snyder
It's incredibly empowering and you learn to find your writer's feet in a warm and supportive environment.
— Anne-Sophie Colin
It's a unique ecosystem/environment for writers who want to learn to work better independently, while at the same time giving them the sense of community & interdependence with other writers. A pretty cool mix of energies & hard to strike just the right tone, but Sarah has done it with the Story Intensive!
— Abby Kerr
There was a beautiful balance between writing assignments and discussion. A serious amount of focused writing was required, and it transformed the way I thought about writing… I would heartily recommend this experience to anyone struggling with their writing. It has been the most transformative writing workshop I’ve attended.
I was blown away by the quality of the guidance from our TA. [She] was 100% committed to giving extraordinary feedback to our ideas, concerns, worries, projections, ... not just our exercises in writing. We owe her a great deal. She animated the material, and made us feel connected.
— Anouchka Freybe
“This was my third return to the Story Intensive, this time as an aspiring novelist. I'd already learned so much from this school, and wanted to touch base with the lessons that had given me the confidence to begin writing in the first place. It did the trick: I'm excited to get back to the manuscript and tell this longer story.”
“There is something to be said about actually *doing* something. That's the key to this course — the doing. Going through the actual process, you learn what works and what doesn't for you. And the irony of the course is, I'm still learning from it, after it's done!”
“I’ve been through a writing program at a University, taken other writing courses, online and off, and never have I been able to engage authentically in the 'creative journey' as I did in this course. I feel I can write fiction now, and have arranged my life toward that end.”
“The Story Intensive convinced me to want to write and gave me the confidence to keep trying. I found the material fresh, engaging and cleverly selected and was guided through it intelligently, innovatively, and with compassion and encouragement.”
This was my second time doing the Intensive. I started it feeling dehydrated, so thirsty to get back into my writing, but I wasn't doing it. I was only *thinking* about writing. The Intensive got me right back into writing, and I was re-hydrated immediately and full of creative juice for three months straight! So grateful for the Intensive to provide this online opportunity. You get to work from home but you feel like you're in a real life writing class. It's SO WORTH it.
It gives you everything you need in a short fiction class! I especially appreciated the kindness and generosity with which this course is taught. It instills confidence and allows us to believe in our writerly selves.
To be sure I would recommend the Story Intensive! First of all, your course is nurturing, safe, respectful and ideal for a beginner writer to cut his/her teeth on creative writing.
Second, your course is great for an advanced writer as the teacher supports the participant find new ways of looking at the art and craft in your exercises and beyond. It is perfectly tailored to different abilities and with a dedicated teacher to guide the way and a supportive group environment, we can only succeed.
[On the Story Intensive Prep Course]:
Iam so grateful for this experience. In this short time, I feel a sense of magic, wonder, and inspiration. My writing feels renewed. The weekly assignments have been a thoroughly clarifying source of practical guidance, possibly more than my whole MFA. I’m so looking forward to the fall!
I think it's good for students at any level, and people can really learn from other writers. Working through the lessons in a group works well. ... I learned that I know a lot more about writing than I think I do. I really enjoyed interacting with the other students.
— Alexis Kienlen
I wanted to go deeper, to do the [Story Course] program again, this time with the guidance and encouragement of a mentor and a community of fellow writers.
— Dave Johnson
The Story Intensive is a great way for newbie or advanced writers to discover how to develop and maintain a practice and how to jump the inevitable hurdles that pop up in a writer's path.
— Diane Fleming
Committing to the Intensive was the best choice I've ever made. I had the support of an involved teacher and group — feedback was immediate and detailed and helpful from both. The class exercises were wildly stimulating for my mind and I ended up writing the parts to a short story that got me accepted into the Humber School for Writers! I highly recommend the program, and I've taken a lot of online writing classes. Of all of them, Sarah's class was the best, and the small teacher/group format meant we had lots of good sharing and everyone felt they were a part of the process. Well worth the investment!
— Dorothyanne Brown
“The Story Intensive has changed my writing in such a positive way, I have taken more risks than I ever have before, and I have much more confidence in my abilities than I used to.”
“Before Story Intensive, I was committed, tentative, and hit-or-miss with my writing. After, my promise to my writing is inspired by Sarah's image — pen on paper like a Ouija board. I will notice, notice, notice, relax and enjoy. Thanks to the Master Class from Eden Robinson, I now have this posted at my desk: "Writing is easy and fun for me!"”
“I discovered that I had built a wall around how much I was willing to give to my stories. The Intensive encouraged me to express my writing fears and write anyway. It was freeing and, at times, exhilarating to re-learn how to write with abandon. I have a strong gratitude and respect for the staff and students in this course.”
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
Before the class, I often let small frustrations stop me from writing, or halt my progress on a particular piece. The inner critic was much louder than my confidence as a writer. This class was a wonderful tool for learning aspects of craft through examples and exercises.
However, I think the most helpful aspect of this class was giving me tools and strategies to find a work flow in my writing and get back to that "flow" in my writing more consistently. This course taught me about the nuts and bolts of a story, but also gave me the tools and inspiration for the creative magic of writing.
— Anne English
I didn't expect to feel quite so under-confident as I started the course. After all, I had done the Story Course on my own the year before, but there was something scary about posting these private experiments and exercises and having them read by others and commented on. I found the first three weeks excruciating, my vocabulary seemed to have disappeared, but by end of the third week I could see how valuable the group and the tutor were. They helped take my writing to the next level. I grew in confidence and found their comments encouraging and useful. I don't think you can advance beyond a certain point until you can find people whose input you value. The students in the course have been really supportive and I will be keeping in contact with all of them as we go forward with the serious intention of writing, making it a priority in our lives, and creating stories in whatever way we wish. I can't recommend the course enough.
— Diana Gold
I love the course, love it hugely. I am full of astonishment, gratitude and admiration for you. My mind is a little bit blown.
I’ve been a part of writing groups for years. I became good at starting things but not finishing them. The Story Intensive offered a supportive environment and the tools I needed to create a short story. More importantly, it has become a cornerstone in my writing practice and broadened my writing community.
Iwas blown away by the characters and story I created. If you stick with it and focus on it you will get a lot out of this program.
The Story Intensive far exceeded my expectations. This program is brilliant! It’s probably worth 3x as much as I paid for it (or more) and I am so grateful that I could learn as much as I did without having to enroll in an MFA program.
The Story Intensive exceeded my expectations. I am back in love with writing and no longer correlate my paid writing job with my fiction writing. I have cultivated a writing habit and intend to keep it forever.
— Jeanne Smith
I'm not sure there is anything like the Story Intensive — if there is, I'm not aware of it. The value is the very intense focus on the story mind or the emotional mind — whatever you want to call it. It puts you in touch with your own inner life, which is where the stories are.
— Judith Sears
I felt excited and unsure and ready before the class and I felt these same things after the class. What changed is that my excitement and uncertainty and readiness after the class was in a completely different place. I now know that I'm a writer simply because I write. I will continue to write because it is my nature, not because I am waiting for approval to be good enough to write. What a blessing. What freedom. You can't do it wrong.
— Naome Howe
This is life-changing stuff. Do it. You owe it to yourself, and to your writing. It’s been almost a year and I still tell everyone about this class . . . My first ever story is coming out in June with Little Fiction | Big Truths! And all because of Sarah’s class!
I completed the Story Intensive last fall, and I’ve never had a better writing class. It was hard work, but I learned so much. And wrote so much.
I used to write stories as a kid, but as an adult I didn't make time for writing. I wasn't a writer, or so I thought. I had always wanted to go back to it, but felt like I would be stepping out of my lane. Who was I to just declare that I was a writer? I dabbled here and there, but as time went on I realised that this was something I really wanted. The time was right to come back to this old love. When I started the Prep Course leading into the Story Intensive I was terrified. I was sure I would be in over my head. But I wasn't. Right from that first day, the lessons were gentle and encouraging but designed to keep pushing us to have a renewed relationship with our writing. Step by step I learned the importance of developing a regular writing practice. Now that I have completed both the Prep Course and the Story Intensive I have to say that I feel way more confident. I am still shy about calling myself a writer, but I kind of whisper it now — I am on my way. I feel cranky if I don't get to write even a little bit every day.
Iam reminded of what Julia Child said about flipping an omelette–that to have success, you must have the courage of your convictions. I think about that with writing. I now have a big toolkit to help facilitate that. So again, thank you.
I had the Story Course for a year, and the Intensive was the push I needed to actually DO it… The accountability of posting assignments and doing the work simultaneously was HUGE for me.
The Story Intensive brought me back to writing and reconnected me with my voice and practice. The classroom was encouraging and supportive. The materials challenged me and gave my writing the push it needed. I feel more confident as a writer than I did after completing my degree! Being a writer feels like a true part of my identity now, and without the Intensive I would have continued to struggle and doubt my voice. The tools it gave me are priceless, and I know I'll reference the lessons again and again.
— Erin Huven-Moore
The Story Intensive forced me to make writing a priority. The support and accountability my group provided kept me writing when I might have otherwise let the rest of my life push it to the sidelines. The course work approaches writing in a thoughtful unique and fun way, balancing the practical tools of craft with the magic that comes with trusting your story. The [MindShare Sessions] are beyond amazing — intimate first hand wisdom from the best!
— Gwynyth Kier
— Margaret Atwood
It forces you to put your writing first and really dig deep. It makes your writing legitimate and puts you in touch with your muse... [My teacher and my classmates'] comments were always on point and helpful. The class instructions and readings really broke open my understanding of my craft.
I started this course with only two short memoir courses under my belt. I have grown so much over these three months — now I think about drift and dialogue, and character and POV all the time! I am still growing as a writer: the journey never ends but I feel so much stronger and more confident than when i started. Sarah and her teachers do such a fabulous job of creating a safe space to develop at your own pace.
The discussions, both those about our writing and those about the reading, proved far more insightful and instructive than I had anticipated.
The Intensive brought me back to my writing when it felt very hard to access. I had fallen out of love with it, was constantly frustrated that I was not doing it, but couldn't seem to make it a priority. The Intensive showed me how much time I am able to give my writing. It helped me to become less rigid in my process, and to be less precious about how I write. I wrote a whole story in ten minute increments on my morning commute! The approach is generous and empathetic, and yet the exercises and readings are very challenging and stimulating. It was such a great gift. Thank you.
— Lara Stokes
Loucas Raptis was like many of us at a young age.
He knew he was a writer.
He wasn’t ready to admit it to anyone else, but he knew.
Yet, in his own words, the writing he did in his teens and twenties “went nowhere.”
When he turned forty and started reading stories to his baby daughter, he decided to try writing fiction again.
But he had never received any creative writing instruction. He didn’t have a writing routine or understand what a writing practice was. So, another decade and a half passed — but this time it was filled with the painful effort of starting stories and never finishing them, and living in a constant state of self-doubt.
Loucas still knew he was a writer. But he didn’t know how to write well.
He signed up for a few college-level creative writing courses that proved to be, as he says, “complete flops — the instruction was full of clichés and 10-steps-to-getting-published type of curriculum.”
Disappointed in his lack of progress, Loucas’ own expectations for his writing dropped. He simply hoped to write something decent. “I just wanted to be able to write a readable story with a beginning, middle, and end,” he says, “a story that at least one person would come up to me and honestly say ‘I enjoyed reading your story’.”
So, when he saw that someone he knew was teaching in the Story Intensive, he enrolled.
Right away, he started to really learn. To get better.
“I learned to cut out the crap. To delete my favourite but burdensome and awkward parts and let them go forever (this alone was worth the price of the course). I figured out how to use a consistent voice throughout the story. I learned to write with newly found confidence without restrictive prescriptions and banal writing rules.”
By paying attention to craft, applying rigorous study, and forming a writing community with other Intensive students, the real writer within finally emerged.
Loucas now regularly publishes his short stories, several of which emerged directly from the Intensive.
“I now consider myself a writer,” he says. “It is the single creative activity that will sustain me for the rest of my life, and I don't have the slightest doubt that I have stories to tell that will make others think and be touched. Stories worth telling and worth telling well.”
I found myself writing instead of just talking about writing and it's pretty hard to put a price tag on that!
I felt seen. I loved it, every single time, when I got feedback from my group and teachers. It felt amazing to have someone say something positive about my writing.
If you have ever felt you missed your calling. If you have ever toyed with the idea of an MFA. If you have ever wondered about your potential to grow as a writer. If you are writing, but maybe a little lonely or lost in it.
Take. This. Course.
It is a calling. It is a toolbox. It is creative potential. It is a community. It is stuffed to the brim with the power to transform your self, your writing, your next step.
One of the things I liked was the companionship of the other writers, and how great the feedback was. And it felt like Christmas when each lesson posting was up for the week – I couldn’t wait for each week to begin. Most importantly, my inner critic decreased immensely, and my discipline increased. I expect that I will maintain this writing discipline.
The Story Intensive pulls you out of the damp, into the rarefied air of craft. Through curated readings, proven exercises, and instructive feedback, you'll learn what makes good writing sizzle.
This class has been a game-changer for me. I had been working on improving my craft for a year and had seen some modest improvement in my writing. However, this class not only improved my craft but caused a shift from wishing to be an author to believing I can be an author. It was like magic.
Participating in The Story Intensive is like tasting that extra-fine, high quality, made-with Madagascar vanilla-icing on the cupcake. Where the Story Course is the foundation, taking it into the realm of community made the process and my writing itself sing with vitality. I experienced working with a group of dedicated writers and an extremely generous mentor. The feedback offered is gold. Everything that Sarah Selecky puts together is the result of much considered thought. I wholeheartedly recommend the Story Intensive to anyone considering it.
— Linda Quennec
This program, just like the Story Course give writers a chance to move deeper into their creative process and provides confidence and support through. The groups are small and Sarah's selection of teachers is testament to her uncanny ability to know what her students are looking for. The Intensive program rejuvenated my creative process and has taken my writing and storytelling to the next level.
— Meg Power
Before The Story Intensive, my writing felt like stone and I a sculptor. I had to know exactly where I was going and what shape I wanted to uncover before I started chiseling. There was all this resistance, fear, and insecurity that the piece wouldn't turn out the way I saw it in my head and there it would be, permanently cast in stone. Now I see that my writing is clay. I can play with it, mold it, reshape it, and the end result can be exactly what I want it to be...even if what I want it to be changes in the process. The fear and resistance are so much less than before because I've learned how to enter into writing without too many expectations and be in the moment.
I had enjoyed the Story Course on my own. Doing the Story Intensive, has brought my writing to a new level. My classmates and teacher were awesome, giving me constructive, positive feedback every lesson. They treated my stories with the same care and love that I did. It was a wonderful safe environment that allowed me to move forward with my craft. Thank you Sarah and the Story Intensive team.
“For years I read books about writing, took courses, and went to workshops and writing circles. What I learned was that there is no magic key to completing stories or novels. When I took the Story Course and the Story Intensive, it felt like finding the pick to jimmy the lock.”
“The Story Intensive gave me the tools to become a better writer through learning craft, but just as importantly, how to learn to trust the writing process, tools to take with me and continue to hone. The supportive classroom environment was inspiring, and one of many invaluable resources to build confidence and joy in writing.”
“The Story Intensive has shown me that writing can be more alive, can be a friend you enjoy spending time with — want to spend time with. By studying the required readings, reading my classmates' work, and listening to the Mindshare Sessions I let go of my preconceived ideas of what writing should be and now have the tools to explore, find the story, and gently sculpt it into being. Out of all the writing programs and workshops I've taken, the Story Intensive gave me the most insights into myself as a writer and my relationship with writing.”
“The Story Intensive was a great chance to focus on short stories for an extended amount of time with a small community that unites in the experience together. Sarah's teachings are heartfelt and purposeful with honoring the intuition of the individual writer. The resources and techniques are invaluable and are ones I return to again and again to increase my writing craft.”
“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.”