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 is burning inside you—and you know that feeling isn't going anywhere.
If so, hi! Read on—I think you'll relate to a lot of my experience.
...the feeling of printing your completed novel draft.
...the satisfaction of knowing it's your best effort at bringing your vision to life.
...a system to get you there without all the self-doubt and detours.
I've wanted to write novels since I was eight years old. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle was the novel that did it for me—I was going to make something like that.
But then I spent years fleeing being a writer. For me, it was all about the academics—I was an A student, addicted to accolades. Naturally, I went to law school...Yale Law School at that (accolades! approval!). I got a good law job. I made my family—and myself—proud. I worked hard, while privately, I continued to dream: I took notes on stories I wanted to write one day...then didn't start them. I'd write a paragraph and set it aside. Late at night I googled MFA creative writing programs and fantasized about applying. I stopped reading fiction because it made me envious of the authors. (How did they do it?! They just...what...wrote?).
One day I was at my desk at my law job and a thought entered my mind: "I'm living someone else's life." It wasn't a terrible life; in fact, it was a fantastic life...for someone else. For me, it was wholly, completely wrong, and every cell in my body knew it. It was wrong because it didn't allow me time to write. Writing was what I needed to be doing.
That day I signed up for a creative writing class and devoted myself to finishing a book no matter what it took.
It took me six years to write my first novel and two to write my second.
At 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 fiction, particularly a novel, and one can't obey all of them without turning into a jellyfish—changing directions with whatever wave happens to come by. Like:
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 a cabin for two weeks (this was before I had a kid), and threw all 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 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. It was then that I finally realized: 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.
But through trial and error I overcame these manifestations of resistance and ultimately found a novel-writing process that works for me. I didn't need an MFA do it. What I did need? To trust my own creative instincts. That meant unlearning a lot of the rules about writing that I'd read in books—and ultimately coming to view many of them as potentially useful guidelines as long as I remain at the wheel.
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.
Over 4 weeks, you will:
How this course is different from other writing courses:
Weekly Video Lessons on Process
You'll learn my exact practice at each stage of the 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—sneak peaks into my workspace, my outlining and brainstorming tools, and my favorite strategies for making it to that final page.
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.
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 pages of your manuscript for feedback from me at any point during the course or up to six weeks 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, customized gift from me. And it's not a bumper sticker.
BEFORE YOU START | The Kernel: Flesh out your idea so it can carry a novel
WEEK 1 | The Prep & The Beginning: What to do before you start and managing workflow
WEEK 2 | The Early Middle: Story Structure & The 4 Notebooks Method
WEEK 3 | The Late Middle: Overcoming resistance and leaning to mystery
WEEK 4 | The End: Nail the Landing and what to do from here
BONUS: After You Finish
From the outset, Mary establishes a writing environment that is both nurturing and non-judgmental. Her input is instructive and deeply knowledgeable, but she leaves you with plenty of space to allow your own ideas to flourish. I have never written more or better than when I was working on my writing with Mary.
— Joselin Linder, author of The Family Gene
Mary's deep and inspired insights into character, plot, tension, and theme were instrumental in much of the writing I did while we worked together. I cannot recommend her enough as a creative writing instructor.
— Alex Difrancesco, author of All City and Psychopomps
"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
Enrolling in TELL DON'T SHOW doesn't just mean you're committed to you finishing your novel...it means I'm committed to you finishing your novel. I'm so invested in you finishing your draft that 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. Plus, you and I will meet for a 30-minute coaching session to troubleshoot your blockage.
Optional payment plans: Two payments of $297 or four payments of $148
Includes all of the modules, resources, and materials described above.
Also includes live weekly office hours with Mary at 1pm ET (recorded for anyone who misses).
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 in four weeks?
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). Much of it will still be useful if you're writing narrative-based nonfiction, but I am hesitant to recommend it since it won't be tailored to your project.
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 purchase—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 2019 Mary Adkins