What the Heck is Write or Die, Anyway?
I did a Write or Die class by phone yesterday, and afterwards my client wrote on Facebook (copied with permission), “After just one Write or Die session with Anne Heffron, I feel like a different person: much more ease of movement in my body (think dancing around the living room). I have a beginning and outline for my story, and I feel more alive and hopeful than I have in a long time! Thank you, Anne! Oh, and it was really fun!”
Write or Die classes are 6 exercises you do with me by phone, Skype, or in person, singularly or in groups of up to 10 people. You do the class because there is something you want to write or accomplish and need help clarifying who you are, who your audience is, what your story is, and what the blocks are to achieving your end goal (a story, a book, an article, a poem, a screenplay, a song, an important email, a marriage proposal…).
It took me thirty years of trying to write my own book while also teaching writing to students ranging in age from 9-78 to develop Write or Die. Three years ago, I finally figured out why I hadn’t been able to write my own story even though I’d gotten an M.F.A. in creative writing, even though I’d gone to countless writing courses, even though I’d worked with countless writers. Even though I’d literally locked myself in a closet with a typewriter. Even though writing a book was the one thing I said I wanted to do before I died. Nothing worked. I couldn’t tell my story.
And then, in 93 days, I did it. I wrote You Don’t Look Adopted which currently has 130 nearly all 5-star ratings on Amazon.
I broke the code.
I had made a decision to write a book.
A decision means there is no alternative. I went radically extreme on Annie Lamott’s idea of the Shitty First Draft and committed to the Shitty First Book. It wasn’t about getting it perfect anymore. It was about getting it done. I threw myself off the cliff of I Have Control of This and flew into the sea of I Have No Idea What is Going to Happen Next and suddenly, writing was no longer a chore. It was an amazing adventure. It was so real.
A big part of that was my friend HBL. He was there in person or on the phone every day, cheering me on, reminding me that my story was important, that I was important, that what I had to say mattered. He had also made a decision, and that was Anne is going to write a book, and so I had Team Anne, and that helped when things got hard and I felt lost and stupid and wanted to quit.
I became a writing coach because I love collaboration. I love being Team You. I help people get to the place where they believe they can write whatever it is they most want to write because they finally can see the way in; they can see themselves, and they can see they have the ability to decide: I am going to do this. I can do this. With those beliefs, essentially the project is already done. All you have to do is show up and write it.
There’s so much I can’t do. I can’t beat everyone I challenge in an arm wrestling contest (at least not yet). I can’t drink a shot of tequila and drive home safely. I can, however, see the truth and beauty of the stories people carry. I also can see the blocks these people carry, and, at the same time, I can see right through them.
I go to John Keats when I talk about truth. In my mind, truth equals beauty, and in my mind, also, beauty in writing means it is as close to the essence of you as humanly possible. This is why being a writing coach, for me, is a sacred profession. I get to be part of the process of people letting go of any darkness that is inhibiting the light they carry, and I get to watch them shine.
Taking a Write or Die class isn’t about being a good writer. It’s about being a good you. It isn’t about sentence structure or grammar or sounding educated. It’s about the ability for you to express things that are important to you. It’s about you feeling you have the authority to do this. It’s about you understanding that it is your job as a human being to be as present and real as possible, and that writing your story, whatever form that may take, is a powerful way to do this.
Doing a Write or Die class is like having three therapy sessions for the price of one. It’s like taking your car through the car wash and having the world suddenly seem brighter. It’s like looking in the mirror on one of those days when you are shocked by how much you love what you see.
I’ve co-written a movie and have sat in a theater and watched something I created acted out on the big screen. I’ve written a book and have had people tell me it changed their lives. I’ve stayed in amazingly beautiful places, received countless gifts, made a best friend, co-created retreats for adopted people, moved across the country, found new communities of amazing people, all because I made the decision to write.
And now, more than anything, I want to help you to do the same. Why? Because I know how good crossing the finish lines feels and because, through you, I get to feel the joy of creation all over again. It’s the reason we are alive. To create. To feel. To be 100% ourselves and to share the bounty of who we are with others.
We all want to feel seen and loved. Writing is one way to do both—to feel seen and to see. What more could you ask for from this one life? Peanut M&Ms. I know. I get it. A cool shower on a hot day. Write about that, about your longing for food, for love, about getting to the top of the mountain, and about singing all the way home.
To sign up for a class, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I can’t wait to hear from you.