Step 1: FAQs

Time Management Tip: Step 1 is the longest step, with the most reading. After that things will go more swiftly for you.

PLEASE DON’T SKIP ANYTHING to get to the next step faster. The FAQs (as with all 7 steps of enrollment) are part of how we prepare you to be successful with our course.


Image used with permission from Clipart.com

Hello! Welcome to our Frequently Asked Questions page

We’ve divided our FAQs into categories to help you assimilate them more easily.

If you have any questions as you read, jot them down. You’ll be given the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the FAQs.

Sincerely,

Signature - Milli Thornton



Milli Thornton
Author & Course Owner


1. WHO THIS COURSE IS FOR

What types of writers take this course?

Meet-Our-Students-for-FAQs

I’m looking for a course that teaches good writing. Does yours do that?

No. Our course is for liberating your creativity and putting the fun back into writing. We don’t “teach”; we lead you to your own treasures and support you emotionally while you dig them up.

There are many courses out there that will teach you good writing. We’re here to help with an earlier step: gaining (or regaining) confidence. We also help with any wounds you might have sustained along the way, such as a cruel critique that destroyed your desire to write.

Image used with permission from Clipart.comWhat if I haven’t done much writing yet?

Over the years, these assignments have been tackled by dozens of closet writers—even those who had never really dared to write before they showed up here. You don’t need any previous experience; just a willingness to give your imagination the freedom to express.

You won’t be judged for being at a certain level. We’re not literary snobs; we just want you to enjoy yourself. With the way our assignments are designed, it can sometimes be hard to tell the newbies from the old hands.

That’s because we know how to get to the natural writer waiting within you.

What if I’m not a beginner when it comes to writing?

We’ve had everyone from jaded journalists to fiction writers who’ve been to every conference and workshop under the sun. What we provide (that you often won’t get in a class where improvement is the ultimate goal) is a way to reconnect with the joy and fun of your creativity.

If you’re feeling steeped in all the How-To’s of writing but you feel you’re missing your spark, we can help. You’ll be asked to drop your Shoulds at the door and simply explore your essential creative self.

How do you cure the fear? Mine is so bad my palms are sweating just reading these FAQs.

We won’t pretend all of your fear will magically evaporate the moment you enter the course. In fact, it might even feel worse at some point. What typically happens is that students find Week 1 and 2 so much fun they temporarily forget their fear (or, at least, find it easier to sneak around). Suddenly, during Week 3—and even though the assignments are still fun—the fear will kick in and try to get you to quit.

We know two simple secrets about fear that you can use during the course if fear happens to strike. We’ll share those secrets with you during orientation.

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close
they were to success when they gave up.”

—Thomas Edison

What if I don’t actually have fear? Will this course still work for me?

Whether you call it fear or procrastination, if you’re not already living your writing dreams there must be something holding you back.

We have found it to take the form of a comfort zone. That’s why the course lasts for eight weeks, and that’s why we make it fun. Because we’ve found a combination of discipline and fun to be the best way to get you out of your comfort zone and onto a writing track. And when your comfort zone tries to kick in, we’ll be there to help you outwit the scallywag.

We’ve also noticed that the folks who say they don’t have any fear usually change their minds when they do the first assignment. Fear can take on many tricky disguises. Every student who has used Assignment #1 to uncover a fear they didn’t realize was sabotaging them wrote to us afterwards expressing gratitude for having uncovered it.


2. ASSIGNMENTS

When will class start?

We don’t have classes, per se. Each student enrolls when he or she feels ready and either works through the eight-week curriculum as an individual or with a friend.

What kinds of assignments will I be doing?

Our assignments are fun and generally very simple to understand. We also include enough challenging assignments to keep your brain sharpened and your ingenuity doing push-ups.

You’ll be writing 7 short stories, 9 essay-style assignments, and two anecdotes about your fear.

(Don’t worry when you hear the word essay. We don’t have any stressful or boring rules about essay structure. We say “essay” to indicate it might be a non-fiction piece. But some of these can also turn into stories, depending on how the student mixes with the assignment.)

Here’s our line-up of assignments:

Week 1 – Your Anecdote: Effects of Fear of Writing
Week 1 – The Interview
Week 1 – The Promise

 Image used with permission from Clipart.com Week 2 – Your Anecdote: Demoralized
by Criticism
Week 2 – The Object
Week 2 – Play Big

Week 3 – My Brainstorm
Week 3 – Lighthearted
Week 3 – The Book Purse (optional)

Week 4 – I Am a Writer
Week 4 – Utopia
Week 4 – My Outlandish Tale (optional)

Week 5 – Only the Wise
Week 5 – A Thousand & One Swords

Week 6 – Drunk with Power
Week 6 – The Creature

Week 7 – Amber is for Caution
Week 7 – Fear of Writing Gazette

Week 8 – Sci-Fi Genius
Week 8 – I Have the Compass

What genre will I be writing in? Can I write in my favorite genre?

The short story assignments are not in any one particular genre, although some of the story lines do lean in a certain direction. However, the story lines are very flexible and you can make of them what you want. Yes, some writers have used the assignments to write in their chosen genre. For example, one student wrote stories in the horror genre throughout his time in the course.

The one exception is religion and spirituality. This is not a Christian writers’ course and it’s not a spiritual writers’ course. It’s a creative writing course for fun and creativity. And for overcoming your fears or internal blocks. The assignments should be used accordingly.

If you feel strongly that this is the course for you, but you want to write in a Christian or spiritual vein, please sign up as a solo student or with a friend who wants to do it too. Why the restriction? Because I can’t promise to give positive, supportive feedback for beliefs I may not share. I had to draw the line after a student used every assignment to preach her spiritual message. That’s just not what this course is for. Thank you for understanding. If you’re uncertain of what to do, please email me and I’d be happy to discuss it with you.

How many words do I have to write for each assignment?

You can do whatever you want with this. We’ve seen everything from 1-2 paragraphs to five-page stories; sometimes more.

The nature of some of the assignments will cause shorter bursts of writing, while some will trigger you to open the throttle. We provide suggestions for how much you can write, but there are no hard-and-fast rules.

The one time we’ll interfere on the issue of length is if we can see you’ve cheated yourself. For instance, a student posted an assignment that was only one sentence long. We realized he did not understand the instructions, so we contacted him and explained what we were looking for. When he reposted, his assignment was about a page long (and he was much happier with it).

Who will see my assignments?

Except for two assignments about fear (that you’ll be given privacy options on), all of your other 16 assignments will be posted in our password-protected student forums. Your posts can only be accessed by the course owner and by your fellow students (plus any future students).

Students are given guidelines on how to treat one another with respect in the forums. We do not allow critiques, so no one will be allowed to post negative feedback on your assignments. The atmosphere in our student forums is all about creativity and mutual encouragement.

What if I do an assignment wrong?

Our assignments are open to creative twists, so it’s not a matter of doing them “wrong.” However, if we can tell you’ve misunderstood the instructions, we’ll ask you for a rewrite. That’s so we can help you get the most from each assignment.

If you have any confusion about assignment instructions, you should always ask for clarification first. (We’ll give you an easy way to do that.) We don’t want anyone feeling they have to muddle through alone.


3. EXTENSION POLICY – NOT AS BORING AS IT SOUNDS!

This course lasts for eight weeks and each week you’ll have assignments to finish. You’ll be given a graduation date eight weeks from when you start, and that’s your goal: to do all the assignments and graduate. This kind of regularity with writing is part of breaking out of fear or paralysis (or whatever it is you’re here to break out of). So it’s extremely important to get an extension when you need one.

Knowing when and how to request an extension can make the difference between graduating and not graduating from this course.

Our full extension policy is part of Orientation, which you’ll be doing first before you start the assignments. Our policy is written in plain English.

Here’s a brief overview.

If I’m too busy to do my assignments, can I request an extension?

Being too busy to do your assignments is almost never grounds for an extension. Being too busy to write is one of the obstacles we’re here to help you overcome. Aiding and abetting you in that area would not help you at all.

Extensions are given for real situations, such as illness (yours or a family member who must be cared for), job loss, an unexpected journey (such as a funeral) and other life situations that could not be predicted.

Note that we won’t grant you an extension for a pleasure vacation. If you know you’re going on vacation, please either use that extra downtime for your writing assignments, or wait and enroll when you return from your vacation.


4. CRITIQUE vs. FEEDBACK

Wow . . . Thanks for the great feedback. I might have to frame it, or hand it out with my Christmas cards!!! I am really enjoying the course. Now I have to go back online and read all of those great things again!

—Amy Anderson, Riverside, Rhode Island

What kind of critiques do you provide?

 Image used with permission from Clipart.comPlease be very clear that we do not provide critiques or show you how to “improve” your writing.

There’s an abundance of places you can go for a critique: everything from services that specialize in professional critiques to soapbox experts who think they know how you should have written it. We’re providing one of the few places where writers can focus exclusively on freeing their creativity and regaining their confidence.

Unless you’re very, very experienced with the process of critiques, it’s almost never the best way to go about building your confidence as a writer.

Well, then, what do you mean by “feedback”?

For each assignment, your course presenter (if you have one) or the friend you enrolled with will provide you with positive feedback. Anyone who comments on your assignments must use our feedback guidelines to express what they loved about your piece of writing, not what they think you should have done differently or better.

This is not a fake way to pump up your ego. We’re not in the ego-building business; we’re here to help you gain real confidence in your own writing abilities. Though critiques that focus on what can be improved are helpful at the right stage of the game, it can also be incredibly enlightening to see what you got right.

Will you mark up my grammar, typos and punctuation?

 Image used with permission from Clipart.comDefinitely not. That’s one good way to take the fun out of it.

If you’re not good with spelling, grammar and punctuation, trying to learn these skills while you’re also trying to liberate your creativity would be working at cross purposes. (Kind of like trying to learn Einstein’s theory of relativity while you’re reveling in playing in a sandbox.)

If you’re the anal type, this will be your chance to let your hair down and post something that hasn’t been proofread to death. Our software gives you 30 minutes to make corrections after you post, but we recommend you don’t use this time to become your own killjoy.


5. COURSE SOFTWARE (aka MOODLE) & THE STUDENT MANUAL

What’s a Moodle?

Image used with permission from Clipart.comAfter years of running the course with clunky freeware, Moodle is the name of the more user-friendly software we adopted in September 2009.

We have no idea why it’s called Moodle or what a Moodle really is (if anything). We chose it because it’s designed for schools and businesses that offer online courses.

You might hear us refer to Moodle from time to time . . . that’s why we let you know upfront what that term means. And if you ever encounter a “Moodle bug” (our pet name for a glitch with the software), you’ll know what term to use when you report the problem to us.

Will I need special computer skills for this course?

Moodle is easy to use. Have you ever made a post online (for instance, a Facebook update)? If so, you’ll be able to use Moodle as soon as you get there. About the hardest task in Moodle is uploading a photo for your student profile. If you’ve uploaded photos to the Web before, it’ll be a snap.

How will I know what to do after I login?

Milli will send you easy instructions on how to login. The email will tell you exactly where to go and what to do after you’ve entered Moodle. If you get lost, please ask for help.

After you login you’ll have access to orientation. This must be completed before you’ll be given access to the course curriculum. Orientation will show you everything you need to know to have a fun and successful time in the course. Orientation is visual and easy to navigate.

Besides my computer, what else will I need for this course?

You’ll need the student manual. This will be provided to you as an e-book, with easy access to it throughout the course. The e-book will be available to you after you enter the course.

If you would also like a real book to hold in your hand, you can order a hard copy of the student manual. You’ll be given order details during Orientation.


6. CUSTOMER SERVICE STANDARDS

What if I need help?

Image used with permission from Clipart.comIT’S EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to us that you get help whenever you need it. We’re always willing and available to provide expert help for whatever might be hampering you.

Each step of the way you’ll be provided with a contact form that goes directly to Milli. Fill it out, use the checkmarks to indicate the nature of your submission (eg. “I don’t understand the assignment”) and then click Submit. Milli will respond as fast as she can, usually within one business day.

It’s up to you to get the help you need so you can graduate successfully.


7. PAYMENT

Image used with permission from Clipart.comPayPal

After you complete enrollment, Milli will send you a PayPal invoice for your tuition. You can pay using your credit card even if you don’t have your own PayPal account. Milli has been using PayPal for enrollments since 2001 and has never had a security problem with it.

If you can’t pay by credit card and you want to make some other payment arrangement, please let Milli know during Step 5 (Enrollment Form).


HOW TO GO TO STEP TWO OF ENROLLMENT

To be taken to Step 2, fill out the form below and hit Submit.

What did you think of the FAQs? Did anything strike a deep chord with you? Milli will be reading your form when you submit it, so anything you share below will be of great interest to her.