Programs

Just Do It! Your Collaborative Support Group for Finishing Your Draft

September 29 - December 8, 2022

OVERVIEW:

A 3-Part Online Cooperative

This supportive program takes all writers (nonfiction or fiction, picture books, novels, essays, and more) from goal-stating to finished drafts through writing prompts, daily inspirations, check-ins, and feedback with Sarah Aronson and special guests.

  • This is an online course in three parts:
    • Part 1 is goal setting, daily inspirations and weekly writing prompts, and weekly LIVE sessions to discuss progress and problems.
    • Part 2 offers similar support, and but with special guests to facilitate daily inspirations and weekly writing prompts, and participate in the live meetings.
    • Part 3 is time for independent work, a private consultation with Sarah, and community celebrations!
  • 8 live online sessions will take place on Thursdays at 8pm Eastern (September 29, October 6, 13, 20, 27, November 3, 10, and December 8).
  • Optional (but encouraged) peer-to-peer community hours at 12pm EASTERN on Mondays (Oct. 3 – December 19) to meet with fellow creatives and share work, and/or discuss responses to writing exercises (no faculty present).
  • Discussion and interaction will occur in the virtual classroom.
  • You’ll get a 1:1 20-minute consultation with Sarah Aronson in Part 3 to discuss progress, ask questions, and plan for next steps.
  • 20 participants max

FEEDBACK EXPECTED:

  • Informal feedback from faculty and peers in LIVE sessions and in the virtual classroom.
  • A 1:1, 20-minute consultation with Sarah Aronson to discuss progress, ask questions, and plan for next steps during the week of November 14.

WHY THIS WORKSHOP?

How many drafts does it take to get to a “final draft”?
Highlights Foundation logo: Just Do It! Your Collaborative Support Group for Finishing Your Draft. Online Starting September 29. Sarah Aronson with Special Guests
While we can’t answer that question, we do know that you only need one draft to start!  However, we also know that getting that first draft finished can be extremely difficult.

This collaborative program provides the support and structure you need to help you finish your draft.

Part One begins with goal setting and plans for daily tracking and check-ins. You will receive daily inspirations each morning, as well as weekly writing prompts to keep you moving forward. We’ll spend time each week sharing progress, problems, and ways to persevere in order to meet your goals.

During Part Two we’ll invite our special guests to engage in our weekly meetings, offer their own experiences, and provide the daily inspirations and weekly writing prompts.

Part Three reserves time for you to meet privately with Sarah to discuss your progress and plans for moving forward, and prepare up to 1,000 words to share with your fellow writers during our celebration ceremony!

IT’S A GREAT FIT IF:

  • You are a writer at any stage in your journey—new or experienced—who craves support and accountability to complete your first or final draft.
  • You write any genre with children and/or teens as the intended audience. The writing prompts and daily inspirations will sample from fiction, nonfiction, poetry, prose, and more!
  • You’d like a high level of engagement with fellow writers and faculty so that you can move forward on your work-in-progress with new ideas and inspiration.
  • You crave time with fellow writers. We’ll build community online in this supportive, collaborative experience.
  • You enjoy online learning. This multi-week course relies on LIVE Zoom interaction and contributions in the virtual classroom.

DETAILED AGENDA:

Pre-workshop: You will receive a link to our virtual classroom where you can introduce yourself to fellow writers, engage in Highlights Foundation related resources (including our Community Standards), and ask program related questions before we dig in!

Live-streaming: All sessions will be live streamed using Zoom.

Daily Inspirations & Weekly Writing Prompts: Will appear in your inbox using our virtual classroom messaging system.

Optional (but encouraged) peer-to-peer community hours at 12pm EASTERN on Mondays (Oct. 3 – December 19) to meet with fellow creatives and share work, and/or discuss responses to writing exercises (no faculty present).

Part One: Getting Started
Session 1:

  • Thursday, September 29 from 8pm – 9pm Eastern: Live Zoom session
    • Introductions
    • Overview of course structure
    • SAY IT OUT LOUD! (Goal setting for your work-in-progress)
      • Daily goals
      • Weekly goals
      • The future of your project!
    • Overview of Writing Prompt #1
  • In the virtual classroom:
    • Daily inspirations
    • Writing Prompt #1
    • Goal Setting Resources

Session 2:

  • Thursday, October 6 from 8pm – 9pm Eastern: Live Zoom session
    • New Ways to Think About the Drafting Process
    • Discussion and Q & A
    • Overview of Writing Prompt #2
  • In the virtual classroom:
    • Daily inspirations
    • Writing Prompt #2
    • Check-in! Charting Goal Progress (publicly or privately)

Session 3:

  • Thursday, October 13 from 8pm – 9pm Eastern: Live Zoom session
    • When New Ideas Want to Take Us Away!
    • Discussion and Q & A
    • Overview of Writing Prompt #3
  • In the virtual classroom:
    • Daily inspirations
    • Writing Prompt #3
    • Check-in! Charting Goal Progress (publicly or privately)

Session 4:

  • Thursday, October 20 from 8pm – 9pm Eastern: Live Zoom session
    • A Review of YOUR Process
    • Discussion and Q & A
    • Overview of Writing Prompt #4
  • In the virtual classroom:
    • Daily inspirations
    • Writing Prompt #4
    • Check-in! Charting Goal Progress (publicly or privately)

Session 5:

  • Thursday, October 27 from 8pm – 9pm Eastern: Live Zoom session
    • Positive Mindset (What does that mean to me? What does that mean to you?)
    • Discussion and Q & A
    • Overview of Writing Prompt #5
  • In the virtual classroom:
    • Daily inspirations
    • Writing Prompt #5
    • Check-in! Charting Goal Progress (publicly or privately)
    • Special guest bios and reading lists

 

Part Two: Welcome Special Guests!
Session 6:

  • Thursday, November 3 from 8pm – 9pm Eastern: Live Zoom session
    • Special Guest Presentation with Diana Ma
    • Guided discussion with special guest and host
    • Overview of Writing Prompt #6
  • In the virtual classroom:
    • Daily inspirations
    • Writing Prompt #6
    • Check-in! Charting Goal Progress (publicly or privately)

Session 7:

  • Thursday, November 10 from 8pm – 9pm Eastern: Live Zoom session
    • Special Guest Presentation with Janae Marks
    • Guided discussion with special guest and host
    • Overview of Writing Prompt #7
  • In the virtual classroom:
    • Daily inspirations
    • Writing Prompt #7
    • Check-in! Charting Goal Progress (publicly or privately)

 

Part Three: Consultations, Independent Practice, & Celebrations!

  • The Week of November 14: 1:1 Zoom meeting with Sarah to discuss progress and path forward. This 20-minute session will be scheduled between you and Sarah at a mutually convenient time.
  • November 14 – December 7: Independent practice to make progress on your work-in-progress. Please continue check-ins in our virtual classroom discussion board, and keep up with daily inspirations and weekly prompts.
  • By December 7, please sign up for the Open Reading during Session 8.

 

Session 8:

  • Thursday, December 8 from 8pm – 9pm Eastern: Live Zoom session
    • Open Read: Share! Celebrate! (Up to 1,000 words)
    • Closing comments

COMMITMENT REQUIRED FOR THE BEST EXPERIENCE:

  • This course is best if you engage in all sessions. If you cannot attend live, please commit to keeping up with the writing prompts and check-ins located in the virtual classroom.
  • Participants are encouraged to leave open and/or schedule blocks of time for themselves to work, especially during the November 14 – December 7 independent time.
  • Submission of weekly exercises is optional, but highly encouraged.
  • Schedule your 1:1 meeting with Sarah between November 14 – 21.
  • You will have access to all recordings and discussions through January 31, 2023.

Trying to figure out how this course fits into your schedule? Read some ideas about planning for the right level of commitment.

HOW IT IMPACTS KIDS:

A first draft is an important step to getting a story to a child! This online course can help get you to that crucial “first draft is done!” stage.

Why do we mention this? Learn about the Highlights Foundation mission.

RELATED RESOURCES:

Sarah Aronson: When We Feel Trust, We Thrive. We Create.
#HFGather: Sarah Aronson and Agent Linda Epstein Talk Feedback & Process
Playing with Point of View: A Webinar with Sarah Aronson
Faculty Interview: Sarah Aronson
Listen for Stories
Working Writers Chat with Chris Tebbetts and Sarah Aronson
Craft, Community and Your Career: Lessons Learned
Mitali Perkins and Sarah Aronson on Art, Creativity and Vulnerability

FROM OUR COMMUNITY:

“Sarah’s warmth, generosity, responsiveness, and great insights made this class one of the most outstanding I have ever taken. She set not only the structure but most importantly the tone that made this workshop so successful from its online beginning to its in-person culmination.”

“Sarah is a thoughtful teacher who is generous with her time. She truly cares about her students!”

“Sarah Aronson was organized, thorough in addressing character development through many avenues, personable in presentation, eager to pose and engage online dialogue in community as well as being responsive to the exercises that she posed for us.”

“Sarah was a master at character development and so approachable in her delivery. I am grateful for the opportunity to take her class and feel that it’s definitely helped me move forward in my middle-grade fiction book.”

Are you looking for information about scholarships? Find out more about the Highlights Foundation scholarship program here.

Faculty

Sarah Aronson

Sarah Aronson began writing for kids and teens when someone in an exercise class dared her to try. Since then,…
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Diana Ma

Special Guest Diana Ma is a Chinese American author who writes YA and MG books that feature Asian American heroes.…
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Janae Marks

Special Guest Janae Marks is the middle-grade author of the critically acclaimed novel From the Desk of Zoe Washington and…
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$499.00