Fun exercises to build your skill
Each week, we'll work on exercises — some quick, some longer — to improve the quality of your writing.
We'll develop a daily creative practice that's fun and interesting, so you'll keep it up.
Optional personal review
You have the option to purchase an in-depth critique of your writing, for a detailed review of what's working and how you can improve. (Sonia conducts each review personally.)
6 Weeks to a More Confident Writing Voice
Everyone's got advice to give writers. About deadlines, marketing, content strategy. But if you want to be a working writer — a professional freelancer, a member of a larger team, or the "chief content officer" for your own business or side project — you have to be able to write. Some people ask:
Can writing really be taught?
There's so much baloney out there about writing being some kind of special activity that has to be granted to you by the Great Talent Fairies. Not only is that wrong, it's dangerously wrong.
If playing a musical instrument can be taught, writing can be taught.
Writing is no different from any other art or craft. You learn the basics, then you learn some advanced skills, then you put in lots of practice. And along the way, you do everything you can to make it fun, so it's not a chore to put the time in. Your unique writing voice emerges organically from that. If you don't feel you have a strong writing voice yet, you can fix that in three steps:
- Make sure you're up to speed on craft and technique
- Get a strong daily practice going
- Get some useful feedback
Who's Sonia Simone?
If you're reading this page, you may be pretty familiar with my work, but just in case you aren't: I've been creating content specifically for the web for a long, long time — almost 30 years now. (Wow, that's insane.) I was a founding partner of Copyblogger Media, and was its chief content officer for ten years. That meant taking responsibility for everything published on the site, and making sure all of it was excellent, every week.
Not only have I written a whole lot of web content, I've also reviewed a bunch of it. In the years I spent conducting reviews for the Copyblogger certified content marketers, I've taken a close and careful look at what works — and what doesn't — for many, many writers. For three or four years, I edited every post that ran on Copyblogger — including those written by founder Brian Clark. And I've coached and instructed thousands of writers and marketers in our Authority and Digital Commerce communities for about a decade.
I started this workshop to be able to go deeper with a small group of writers, making a meaningful change in the quality (and the quantity) of their writing. There's one thing I've seen, over years of working with writers and helping to strengthen their writing:
If there's a "magic" ingredient
If there's a magic ingredient in becoming a stronger writer, it's useful feedback. Not brutal, "tear you to shreds" feedback. And not wishy-washy "everyone is a rock star" feedback. But concrete, helpful, thoughtful critique, from someone who knows what they're doing, with suggestions on what you're doing well and how you can improve.
That's why I decided to make a detailed critique an optional (but highly recommended) part of this workshop.
I conduct all of the critiques myself — you'll get my best advice about your work and your best opportunities for growth. Incidentally — this is not my "normal rate" for critiquing a piece of writing. The optional critique is being offered at an extremely discounted rate, and only for this class.
What we'll work on
The most important goal of the workshop is to get you into a healthy, manageable daily writing practice. The kind that keeps you moving forward (not too easy), and that you can sustain over a lifetime (not painful or too difficult).
We have daily quick homework that will strengthen your observational muscles. And we'll start to fill your "idea garden" with all kinds of rich topics that you can develop into finished pieces.
We'll also have longer exercises to explore techniques that will help you grow as a writer. And you'll have the optional individual feedback session with me, where I closely and individually look at your work and give you specific areas of focus for improvement — as well as encouragement about what you're already doing well. (The encouragement part isn't just to make you feel good.
Often, our fastest opportunity for growth comes from doing more of what we're already good at.) This year we also have a new bonus: Shark Week! That's a one-week session focused on strategies for writing persuasively, whether that's sales copy, a marketing sequence, or any persuasive message designed to move your reader to action.
You'll learn by doing
This isn't a collection of writing advice. You can get books for that, or read any of a hundred good blogs. It's a workshop. And that means we're going to be getting words into pages. We won't just talk about best practices for good writing — we'll try them out. First, with some simple and fun exercises, to start with a "safety net." Then, when you're comfortable, you can take them to the writing you do in the world — whether that's blog posts, articles, scripts, or anything else you're working on.
A class for content creators
This workshop is a little different from some writing classes, in that it's designed for content creators. This is for you if you want to write better blog posts, podcast or video scripts, articles, white papers, email sequences, or promotional material like sales pages. If you're a novelist, poet, or fiction writer ... you're welcome to join us! Just realize that our examples and exercises won't be tailored to the way you work.
Here's the workshop schedule
The course runs for 6 weeks, plus an initial "Kickoff" session outlining my Portable Writer's Studio journal format. And the Shark Week bonus class will be held in early January, after the holidays. All of the sessions will be held live, with recordings if the timing isn't convenient for you, and transcripts to make it easy to refer back to everything we talk about. Here's the schedule of classes. We meet on Wednesdays as noon Eastern U.S. Time.
Kickoff Week: Idea Generation and Daily Practice
Wednesday, October 30 This is the foundation that the rest of the workshop is built on! We'll go through the Why and the How of our daily writing practice. You'll have specific, manageable daily assignments, as well as longer assignments to work on when you have time.
Week One: Voice, Persona, and Managing Imposter Syndrome
Wednesday, November 6 This week is about nurturing your individual writer's voice. If you want to stand out in the sea of cheap freelancers, this is how you do it. We'll also talk about how to balance our own privacy with the web's insatiable demand for "authenticity" and transparency. And we'll tackle two tricky beasts — the Inner Critic and Imposter Syndrome. If you ever beat yourself up about your creative ability or productivity, you'll come away from this session a whole new way to think about that nasty little voice in your head — one that will give you a smile, instead of making you feel crummy.
Week Two: The Words We Choose
Wednesday, November 13 This session will dive deeply into the specific words that make up our writing. We'll learn how to spot that "perfect" word, as well as how to keep embarrassing errors away.
Week Three: Metaphor and Story
Wednesday, November 20 These two powerhouse techniques will form the foundation for some of your most memorable writing. We'll talk about how good stories are structured, some often-overlooked elements, and how to tell compelling stories in just a few words.
Week Four: Implementation
Wednesday, December 4 - No live session this week I swiped this idea from the wonderful creative productivity expert, Jessica Abel: It's a week to get caught up with the class! If you've had any lessons that you didn't get enough time to explore, this is your week to dive back in. This week also follows U.S. Thanksgiving, so if you want to just spend it eating pie, I am not here to judge. I'll be baking pies of my own, but I'll also be on hand if you need help or guidance with anything.
Week Five: Detail and Polish
Wednesday, December 11 How much is too much? When does "colorful" writing get tedious, overstuffed, or boring? We'll strive for that balance this week, and learn to create evocative, textured writing without getting goopy or hard to read. This week, we'll also talk about editing and "exfoliating" our writing, for a polished professional shine.
Week Six: Structure
Wednesday, December 18 Your writing may be gorgeous — but if the structure is weak, you won't have a compelling piece. This week is all about how to structure your work so it holds together. We'll focus on capturing and keeping audience attention, and we'll touch on how to organize your content to serve a larger purpose.
New bonus: Shark Week!
Wednesday, January 8, 2020 This year, I'm adding a new "Shark Week," to give you a quick overview of sales and marketing techniques you can add when your writing needs to persuade. “Shark Week” is obviously tongue in cheek — you won’t be learning anything too sharky. But you will learn some of the essentials of persuasive writing. These are techniques you can use for:
- Promoting a business
- Crafting emails that convince your colleagues
- Marketing your side hustle
- Boosting attendance at your church
- Raising funds for a club or other organization
This isn’t a comprehensive copywriting course, naturally. But it will teach you ethical techniques for writing that inspires action.
Wrap-up and Group Questions
Wednesday, January 15, 2020 This is your wrap-up week to ask questions, refine your ongoing goals, and make a plan to move forward. I'll be here to provide guidance!
Ongoing: The Remarkable Habits group on Slack
I introduced this last year, and it was super helpful for our students. Workshop participants are free to attend our Slack group for prompts and encouragement to strengthen your writing habit. This is where you'll find accountability, additional suggestions, friendly support, and advice on making your writing an unshakeable daily habit. Your workshop tuition includes access to the Slack group throughout 2020. Slack is a free, easy-to-use app, and I think you'll find it a refreshing change from the distractions and drama of Facebook. I'll be posting prompts, and you can also do regular check-ins (daily, if you choose!) on your progress toward your writing goals.
Of course there's a money-back guarantee
I want you to be happy! You have 30 days to decide if the workshop is where you want to be. If you decide it's not serving your needs, just let me know and I'll be happy to refund your payment. (Just a note that critiques are non refundable once I've completed them.)