Your book is ready to be written.

Are you ready to write it?


Why write your book NOW?

You've been thinking about it for a ages, but there's always a reason not to start. Or you got stuck, and now thirty pages live buried in a folder on your desktop. 

Or maybe you're like me: You've been so receptive to feedback and writing "rules" that you've lost direction. 

But your novel or memoir is burning inside you—and you know that feeling isn't going anywhere.  

Sound familiar?

If so, hi! Read on.


Hi, I'm Mary Adkins, author of When You Read This and Privilege

It took me six years to write my first novel.

In the beginning I was plagued with self-doubt. I felt like a novice because I was one—I didn't yet know how to write a novel, and so I relied on others to tell me. The problem was that there are many perspectives on how to write a novel. I tried to listen to all of them and became too receptive to feedback—I would rewrite my entire draft based on what one person said. 

I pored over books on fiction writing then used them against myself to poke holes in my work-in-progress. I handed the wheel over to the world of writing adages like "show, don't tell." 

This all left me confused, discouraged, and aimless. 

It wasn't until I was sitting in an online writing course listening as the instructor explained, plot point by plot point, precisely what I should write next in my novel—and feeling that sense of dread that descends when you hear advice you know isn't right for you, but that you fear you're going to take anyway—that I realized: I'm the only who knows what this thing is. 

I packed a bag, took off to the middle of nowhere for two weeks (this was before I had a kid), and set the advice and instruction aside. I wrote a draft of the novel based on my own vision of it—weird and untraditional as it was. Six weeks later, I got an agent. And within the next year I wrote the first draft of my second novel—this time more confident in my own vision, which helped me trust myself as I continued to discover my process. 

Both novels sold at auction and to major publishers around the world. 

Once I began to write from the gut and not from a formula or someone else's vision, my writing life became more prolific, more joyful, and more successful. 

The truth is that some of the most often cited "rules" about writing can easily become weapons that writers use against ourselves to justify our inaction. They become a means of resistance—that which inhibits creativity from blossoming in the world.

I've discovered that the block many writers face isn't lack of talent, motivation, or time. It's rule-based resistance

In overcoming resistance, would-be authors become authors. 


Tell, Don't Show: Breaking the Rules to Write the Novel or Memoir You're Meant to Write

novel writing course

$597 $497 for this session

Over 4 weeks, you will: 

  •  Learn my exact process for writing a novel—from the idea stage to the selling stage
  •  Apply these lessons in real time to your novel-in-progress with the support of a private course community
  •  Un-learn beliefs and assumptions holding you back and stifling your imagination
  •  Complete 75+ pages of your novel and be well on your way to finishing a sparkling, well-crafted draft
  •   Acquire tools, templates, and practices that will carry you through your writing career

"All other classes have left me stumped. This is the one time everything made sense." -Ann, former student

How this course is different from other writing courses:

  •  You will write your novel in real time as part of the course.
  •   Lessons based on creative psychology and learning science track your progress and keep you motivated. No saddling you with feedback early on, leaving you wondering why you've lost inspiration.
  •  No need to carve out time to read other students' work.
  •  No sifting through others' scattered feedback on your work. (You will, however, be invited to submit writing for feedback from me.)
  •  Do lessons on your own schedule and anonymously if you aren't ready to share that you're writing a book with people in your life.
  •  Complete the course/your draft in as little as 30 minutes a day.
  •  Save time and money—I distill the most important stuff I've learned in over $15,000 worth of writing courses
  •  Have access to me + course materials for a full year

"I needed to stop taking workshops and just keep my butt in the chair and write. This course made me do that." -Jorge, former student

Here's what's in the course...

Weekly Video Lessons on Process

You'll learn my exact process, from how to start, to how to overcome resistance, to what to do when you finish.

Templates & Examples

You'll get access to my best stuff for outlining and brainstorming, including Google templates that you can actually use. 

An Accountability Partnership Option

Interested in an accountability partner who will check with you at your direction to help you meet your goals? We'll pair you with a fellow novelist so that you can rely on the exact kind of accountability—type, format, and frequency—that you need to be successful.

Lectures & Summaries

Lectures and summaries reflect and build on the video lessons. These are yours to download, keep, mark up, and reference as needed.

10+ Lessons on Craft

In bite-size videos I share my favorite tips on getting better at writing, getting unstuck, and getting the most out of your writing time.

Interactive Quizzes

Quizzes confirm actionable understanding of key concepts and engage you more deeply in the process.

Instructor Feedback on up to 25 pages

Submit up to 25 double-spaced pages of your manuscript for feedback from me at any point for one full year after your course ends.

A Writing Community

From Day One, you'll be invited to join your fellow novelists in our private Facebook group, where we'll engage in ongoing, guided discussion around weekly themes in the course. I'll be there regularly to answer questions (and ask them!).

Reward Upon Completion

When (not if!) you finish, you'll receive a special gift from me. And it's not a bumper sticker. 

"I've talked about writing a book for years, and I was never brave enough to try it until now. From the first lesson, I felt liberated. I wrote 15,000 words during the first session, and I'm still going." -CA, former student

Let's get specific. 

BEFORE YOU START | The Kernel: Flesh out your idea so it can carry a novel

You will...

  • Identify the central question that will pull you forward as you write your novel. You will do this using my specific method for identifying the issue at the heart of your novel, which will ensure your idea is robust enough to carry you to ~70,000 words.
  • Avoid the mistake of beginning a novel without an adequate dilemma, thereby losing steam thirty pages in.

MODULE 1 | The Prep & The Beginning: What to do before you start and managing workflow

You will...

  • Tackle the essential craft tasks before you start writing. You will end this week armed with critical knowledge about your main characters, an understanding of scenework, inspiration for good beginnings, and my form of initial outlining: the "story map."
  • Set yourself up for success with a practical map for completion.
  • Learn my two favorite tools for novel-writing: the Workspace, and the Opposite Page. 
  • Learn how to strike a balance between "telling" and "showing," how to write (and when to care about) beautiful sentences, and my favorite writing mantra when you're struggling with maintaining a consistent writing practice.
  • Begin your novel.

MODULE 2 | The Early Middle: Story Structure & The 4 Notebooks Method

You will...

  • Learn to use classic story structure as an inspiration and guide rather than as a formula or must-do. 
  • Adapt the classic 3-act story structure to my 4-notebook method of novel-writing.
  • Learn how to evaluate and integrate feedback from others on your work in progress without becoming overwhelmed.
  • Learn how to conquer what I call "writing bias"—your particular fear of success that your novel will be published, and how that is subconsciously limiting you.
  • Write into the second notebook of your novel (or equivalent).  

MODULE 3 | The Late Middle: Overcoming resistance and leaning to mystery

You will...

  • Learn the ways in which resistance can manifest during the course of writing the middle of a novel, and be prepared to recognize it when it arises. 
  • Learn my favorite methods of combatting resistance.
  • Experience the power of approaching your writing with a spirit of openness and unknowing. Discover the thrill of letting your characters surprise you.
  • Write into the third notebook of your novel (or equivalent). 


MODULE 4 | The End: Nail the Landing and what to do from here

  • Discover a tool for writing meaningful and satisfying endings.
  • Learn how and why to allow the characters to take over the story in the final fourth of your novel. 
  • Learn about metaphors, character fantasies, and how to handle the passage of time in your novel.
  • Write into the fourth notebook of your novel (or equivalent). 
  • Finish your draft (may exceed the fourth week). 


BONUS: After You Finish

  • Learn the steps to take after you have finished your draft (whether or not that is this week), and—more importantly—the steps not to take right away.
  • Learn my methods for revision and transcription, and why I find them the most efficient of all the methods I've tried.
  • Learn tactics for countering self-doubt about yourself and your draft in light of negative or non-enthusiastic feedback from the world.


What a couple of fellow published authors say about working with me... 

the family gene

I have never written more or better than when I was working on my writing with Mary. 

— Joselin Linder, author of The Family Gene

all city

I cannot recommend her enough as a creative writing instructor. 

— Alex Difrancesco, author of All City and Psychopomps

And here's what they're saying about my writing...

when you read this, novel, mary adkins

"Tart, sweet, poignant, and rich with humor; completely irresistible.” Library Journal (starred review)  

"I mean like, crazy funny. The offbeat story about love, family and mortality really sticks with you. The ideal summer read." — A Cup of Jo  

I loved every word. — Meg Cabot  

"When You Read This feels miraculous and leaves a lasting impression long after its final moment.” — Val Emmich, author of The Reminders and Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel  

* Indie Next Pick *

* Parade Top Book of February 2019 *

 * Real Simple Best Book of 2019 (So Far) *

 * Thrillist Best Book of 2019 *

Guess what? You have nothing to lose...

The Creative Block Guarantee

Enrolling in TELL, DON'T SHOW doesn't just mean you're committed to you finishing your means I'm committed to you finishing your novel. If you don't feel you've become equipped with the tools to do so by the end of the course, you are welcome to join the next cohort of students for free. And you and I will meet for a 30-minute coaching session to tackle your concerns.

Ready? Let's do this!

I'm ready to write.

Tell, Don't Show 4-Week Course: $597 497

Includes all of the modules, resources, and materials described above. 

NOTE: The next round of the course will open in fall 2020.

Let me know when the doors open

Frequently Asked Questions 

How does this work?

Once you purchase the course, you will receive an email with log-in instructions. As soon as the course begins, you will have access to the first week's materials (video content, pdf downloads, and more). Each week new content will be unlocked in your syllabus. You'll also receive, via email, details about the live workshops and instructions on attending them.

Do I need an Internet connection?

Yes, you will need an Internet connection to watch the videos.

What if I don't finish my novel during the course?

No worries! You will continue to have access to the video content for a full year, and all of the content that is not video-based you can download for lifetime access. 

Can I take the course if I'm writing a memoir/nonfiction?

This course is designed for novelists working on long pieces of fiction (novella or novel-length— 40,000 - 80,000 words), but it is also useful if you're writing narrative-based nonfiction. Non-narrative books it's not suitable for.

Can I watch the videos on my phone?

You sure can!

Do you offer refunds? 

Sure! You may request a refund within 7 days of when the course begins on 4/13/20—just shoot us a quick email. After 7 days we don't offer refunds, but you are still entitled to the Creative Block Guarantee. 

Copyright 2020 Mary Adkins