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Winter Writing Assignment 6

Click through for Assignment 1, Assignment 2, Assignment 3, Assignment 4, and Assignment 5

Your fifth (and final) Winter Writing Assignment is below. I hope you've enjoyed these weekly assignments, and that the writing helped make your January feel reflective and productive. Before your last assignment, I have an announcement.

Over the holiday, I faced an unexpected challenge in my life. I don't usually share details about my personal life online, especially during difficult times. But these circumstances have made me recalibrate my whole year, and this will affect the writers in our Story Is a State of Mind community.

Last month my mom was in a serious accident, and had to undergo brain surgery. I'm an only child, and my father died years ago: we're a pretty tight unit, me and my mama. She's recovering now, and she's going to be okay. But I'll be honest: it's been a scary four weeks for me.

I put everything on hold so I could be there for her, and I'm so grateful that I was able to do that. However, that means that I'm not ready to start the year the way I planned. I don't have the energy to accomplish everything on my list.

As a result, I am cancelling the spring semester of The Story Intensive.

I'm so sorry to do this. This was not an easy decision to make! I've never had to cancel a program before. But I know I need to take this time to rest and recover so we can run a spectacular semester of The Story Intensive this fall.

Everyone who has already enrolled in The Story Intensive will receive a refund. We'll be in touch with you shortly to make arrangements with you about this.

I do hope you'll consider joining us for The Story Intensive this September, though!

Meanwhile, there are so many exciting things coming up for Story Is a State of Mind School this year. This includes: The Story Workshop; a pilot program for young writers; and an international summit on the business of publishing.

And the Little Bird Contest judge has been selected! I am over the moon about who it is this year. (I won't announce the name of our judge officially until this spring, but here's a clue: The water was a hard bed of shiny dimes.

We're also building a brand new website that will be more clear, more functional, and absolutely gorgeous, with improved classroom spaces for all of our students.

While we're putting our energy into designing this shiny new space, we aren't spending as much time on our current website design. We're renovating Story Is a State of Mind School, and as we move things around, we might miss some spots. If you're ever looking for something you need and can't find it on this site, please send us a note at, and we'll help you out.

As always, thank you: for your presence here, for your devotion to your craft and practice, and for being such an important part of my community.

Your final winter writing assignment is below. Enjoy.


Sarah Selecky

Find Connection

Winter Writing Assignment 6

  "There are writers who write for fame. And there are writers who write because we need to make sense of the world we live in; writing is a way to clarify, to interpret, to reinvent. We may want our work to be recognized, but that is not the reason we write. We do not write because we must; we always have a choice. We write because language is the way we keep a hold on life. With words we experience our deepest understandings of what it means to be intimate. We communicate to connect, to know community. Even though writing is a solitary act, when I sit with words that I trust will be read by someone, I know that I can never be truly alone."
— bell hooks  

This week, two assignments.

1. Reach out to a writer you know who is also working on a writing goal this year. This could be a friend, someone you've met on Facebook, in a class, or at a reading or event. Make a writing contract with that person: a document that outlines what each of you agree to accomplish (i.e., writing for an hour every day for five days a week). Include the start and end of the contract period - for example, three months. Each of you will be responsible for your own promises. At the end of the day, after you finish your writing, email your partner a short "Done." They respond with a short "Good," so you know they're paying attention. Writing is done in solitude, but you don't have to be alone. To see Aimee Bender's writing contract, go here.

2. Write a thank you card to a writer you admire. Write this card on good paper, and send it in the post. If the author doesn't have an address on his or her website, you can send your card care of the publisher's address on the inside cover of the book. Be brief and generous, and honest about why you are grateful that they are writing. Pick out a nice stamp. As you know, the details matter.  

Photo credit (top): Casper Van Battum on Unsplash.

Photo (with quote): Prince Edward County, Ontario.

A note from the Vice Principal.
How to do a self-directed writing workshop. Part 1/2


Stephen D. Forman

What a fright! Very relieved to hear your mother's going to be okay. Beyond the worry, caring for a loved one can also be exhausting. But one thing's for sure: the tribe you've built here is nothing if not compassionate and loyal. You may have made a difficult decision regarding the spring Story Intensive, but I know your students will give you all the time you need for yourself. Family comes first, period. Thank you for letting down your guard. All the best, Steve
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Sarah Selecky

Oh Steve, thank you so much.
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