How to write about your life: Five-day webinar with Penelope Trunk. Plus special guest-appearance by The Farmer.
This webinar will teach you how to write about your life. It includes four days of of video sessions and email-based course materials. You can purchase this workshop for anytime, on-demand access. The cost is $195.
I’ve been writing about myself for as long as I can remember. I’ve lectured on writing at places like Boston University, Brown University, and the University of Paris. My first book was a memoir that Publisher’s Weekly said was “quick, punchy prose that keeps the reader riveted.”
(A really big rule about selling something is that you don’t offer something cheaper first, but whatever. Here I go.) That first book, the memoir, is a little like Fifty Shades of Grey but with more vomit and more beach volleyball. The print version of my book is $500 on Amazon, but you can buy the electronic version here. And, if you’re wondering why the author on the book is not Penelope Trunk, here’s the post about my many names.
But back to the webinar. For $195 you get access to all the videos and course materials. It’s significantly more expensive than the ebook, but really, which will be more fulfilling to you, reading about my life or writing about yours? If you can’t be there for the live version, you can download the video to watch whenever you want.
The secret sauce to all good blog posts is writing about yourself. Successful blogs infuse the personality of blogger into whatever the blog topic is. And successful professional sites do this as well. In fact, as early as 2008, the Harvard Business Review was warning executives that social media won’t work for them if they don’t do it themselves with no ghost writers—because they need to use their personality.
The trick is to know how to reveal your personality and tell stories about yourself in a way that helps you reach your goals.
I’m going to teach you how to make your writing so interesting that people can’t stop reading. And once you have that, you have so many choices about what you do with your writing—a blog, a book, a business. Good writing can launch all of these. I know—I’ve done it myself.
So here’s what you will learn:
Day one: How to choose what part of your life to write about.
I’ll give you the list of rules I use to make sure I’m personal but not boring. People think the biggest problem about writing about your own life is what to reveal. But actually, the more difficult problem is how to not be boring. In general people want to read about someone else’s life if it relates back to their own in some illuminating way. I’ll also teach you how to give up control of the story to get a better story. It’s the writing equivalent of this photo, actually; I told my son to just give me the camera, and look, it ended up being an interesting picture of me and The Farmer – more interesting than if I tried to control everything in the photo.
Day two: How to structure stories.
We all have a million bazillion stories to tell. This session will show you how to take a moment that you really want to tell people about and turn that moment into a story that will resonate with readers. The process here is self-editing and thinking about a story arc even though life does not unfold in neat plot lines. (Bonus! If you learn to do this well, you’ll be able to write your resume better and you’ll do better in job interviews. Finally, social justice: the writers do well in the workplace.)
Day three: How to create a system for writing.
Most people do not write about themselves for a living. Most people have a day job, and they write in addition to that job. A system helps you become more efficient so you can write regularly. I’ll tell you tricks I use to force myself to write when I don’t want to. I’ll also show you three different types of posts, and how to write them, how to organize your links, how to create a writing schedule, how to organize the posts you save for later.
Day four: How to turn your writing into a paycheck.
Good writers can make money writing. But it’s not so straightforward. I’ll share with you the wide range of ways I get paid to write about myself. Also, I’ll show you how I got a blog-to-book deal with a six-figure advance. Some of you don’t want to do a blog, you just want to write a book, and I’ll show you shortcuts to getting a book deal so you can live off the advance while you write the book. And, if any of you end up being ready for an agent, I’ll put you in touch with my agent, who has agreed to look at any proposals I send her way from this class.
Day five: Q&A with me and the Farmer.
One of the most common road blocks people feel to writing about themselves is what the people close to them will say. The Farmer has put up with me writing about him since the day I met him. So I thought he’d do a good job answering your questions about what it’s like to have someone writing about you all the time. You can ask him anything else, too. I told him he should be prepared for a wide range of questions. I want to tell you that he’s nervous. But he’s not. He’ll just answer whatever comes his way. So I think it’s safe to say that I’m the nervous one.
But here’s something else about writing about yourself: It’ll make you nervous and that’s why it’s fun. The only stuff that’s worth doing is hard and scary. So that nervous feeling means I’m growing. And really, this webinar will teach you just that: how to engage in personal growth and intellectual growth through writing. Because that’s really what the best writers do.
Will the sessions be recorded? I can’t make them all?
Yes, everything will be recorded and you can watch it whenever you want.
The farmer’s going to be on?! I’m not interested in learning to write about myself but I may just sign up to hear what the farmer has to say. And to see you in action together. Because you two together is the best!
Interestingly, the link to the e-book says this : “Adrienne Eisen is the pen name of Penelope Trunk.” (With so many noms de plume, it’s a wonder anyone can keep track …) Also: I thought it was a typo that the memoir on Amazon is 500USD….according to that link, it really is (!).
Hopefully some interesting posts will stem from The Farmer’s cameo appearance at the webinar — cant wait : )
$500 dollars for a book?!
Once a book is out of print, prices from the first edition can go through the roof. Depends on demand. If signed, that can increase the value.
How long will each session be? Will it be useful – are you good at teaching things? Will you just yell at everyone how stupid their questions are (based on the last time I saw you on video.
I thought you were breaking up with the farmer
Seriously, what is your malfunction? I can’t take on every anonymous jackass on the Internet, but if I could, I’d start with you. I came here to ask a question about the seminar and I look through the questions to see if someone else has already asked it and instead I read your garbage. And, by the way, everyone who is married is breaking up at least once a week.
ON TO MY QUESTION!! Penelope – Will there be opportunities to ask questions during the webinar and also, how long will the sessions last? I need to negotiate the evenings with my husband. =) We have three kids to put to bed each night and I’d like to coordinate around the time frame. Thanks.
Oh, good question. I forgot to write that each session will be an hour, and there will be time for questions during each session.
The last webinar was just so insightful AND entertaining, it made it difficult to give up. I think I am hooked!!
Hopefully, we will have the Melissa support feature as she added such a great deal of value.
Love the colors in the outfit, Penelope. Is that a Milly dress?
i signed up. i’m very much looking forward to it, i think you’re one of the best bloggers on the web.
these are the questions i’d love to get answers for..
– how do you deal with broken external links?
– how do you do such a good job crosslinking your posts?
– is your hosting environment wordpress on media temple? why?
– how do you handle upgrades? who does maintenance?
– who configures plugins, site layout, etc?
– monthly hosting costs?
– what do you use for comment posting? have you ever considered disqus or a similar service?
– what analytics services do you use and why? how frequently do you use them?
– what are your top traffic sources?
– Hi, Adrian. I’m going to answer your list of questions right here, in the comments section.
But first, I want to say that the bigger answer to all these questions is that they are totally secondary to good writing. Writing good content is so much more important than all the nuts and bolts of building a blog. That’s why I decided on this seminar topic – because the hardest part of having a blog is the content, and the hardest part of writing good content is infusing it with your life. If you have good content, all this other stuff falls into place.
Now, the answers:
I ignore broken links. It would be a full-time job to keep track of them over the course of ten years of blogging.
I’m good at crosslinking because I work so hard on each post that it stays in my head.
Media Temple sponsors this blog. So they give me hosting for free. HOORAY MEDIA TEMPLE! THANK YOU!!!!
Loginaut.com is the URL for the guys who maintain my blog. They end up costing me about $1500/mo.
I don’t use Disqus because so many people write on my blog about stuff they’d never talk about to their friends, and Disqus connects your comments to your facebook page. So it makes people less likely to comment on my blog.
I use Mint and Google for analytics. I check once a day.
The site that sends me the most traffic is Google. I have relatively high page rank on a lot of terms. For example, I’m usually on the first page of search results for terms like “phone interview” and “time management”.
Adding up page views across web properties is a tricky business, but in general I tell people I get about a million views a month… Which is why, of course, you should sign up for this seminar – because that traffic is almost all based on the idea that good writing leads to good things.
There’s a wordpress plug-in called Broken Link Checker which lets you know all broken links and allows you to just unlink them to fix it.
this was an incredibly helpful post, THANK YOU.
btw, IMHO your ability at cross linking is — well, unusually, incredibly detailed. i might suggest you know why this is. :)
Just booked! Looking forward to it, particularly what’s worked for you organization-wise: systems, post structures, etc.
That photo could be Schiele does Wisconsin. Love it.
This couldn’t come at a better time for me except I wish it started next week!
I’m a nervous , uptight wreck about sharing too much of myself and what people think of me but I want to be a better blogger and a book writer one day too.
I’m in Italy and can’t make the live shows, how long is each one?
Hope I can still join in GX
Each session is one hour, live. But they’ll also be recorded. So you can listen to them whenever you want.
How long is each session? Just thinking about timing.
Penenlope!! Why now when my budget for this kind of thing is tapped out for the year???? I really want to take this course! Are they archived and available for purchase at a later date?
You can purchase access to the sessions later. You can use the link on this page whenever you want in the future.
Awesome. That was my question too. Because I want this for Christmas, but I know my husband can’t afford it for me till his next paycheck.
I have followed you for a few months now! When we put ourselves out there, there will always be someone criticizing and very negative. I am always reminded of how many people are out there who are insecure and feel threatened! I think it is fabulous that you are sharing yourself as today’s market wants authenticity! So let me congratulate you on being real and honest. We need more of it in our society! I am sure you will lead other workshops and seminars! I hope to join you in the future……… Just wanted to say hello and you go girl! By the way, I live in Wisconsin as well–Stevens Point, although I am working in Milwaukee this year. I am transitioning!!
Just signed up! Will there be daily “homework” projects? Will you look at anything we produce during the week? That has to be daunting. How does it work?
I will send out reading lists. But if I make it part of the class – like you must do it for the class – then I think people will be intimidated.
Here’s a book you might like to check out if you’re dying to get started reading: Flash Fiction
These stories are all half a page long. This is a great way to learn to tell a story in the length of a blog post.
Could you tell me what time & timezone the webinars will be held? I’m in the Antipodes & would like to attend ‘live’.
Thanks : )
PS – a few days ago I read one of your posts about blogging. When I read ‘Post something right now.. Don’t worry about being stupid because trust me, no one is reading your blog’, this unclogged all (well, some) of my intellectual & emotional constipation. I don’t usually tell complete strangers on the internet this but I LOVE YOU (insofar as one can love someone they’ve never met.. thank you)!
All the live sessions are at 9pm est. I hope you can make it!
I’m having nightmares about pulling hair out that is growing out of my mouth and throat. I looked it up on a dream analysis web site and I think it means I’m not posting often enough on my blog, and I need to write more freely and regularly and not just in my journal. So I think I should sign up and create some sort of routine.
You have my attention. Good idea.
I took your Secrets to an A-list Blogger course – it was awesome. It was full of straight-forward, practical advice – and was very focused on being an honest, interesting writer. The challenge you put up for writers totally inspired me to dig deeper and keep searching for my truest writing voice….(I recommend you any day)
Having said that – how will this course be better or different from the last? And why should anyone who took your last course, take this one too?
Senait, I’m so happy you liked the last webinar I did! Thanks.
The Secrets to an A-List Blogger was about how to make money from your blog. How to dream up business models, how to turn blog posts into a business, how to use your blog to promote another business, etc.
What I learned from doing that webinar was that the key to getting anything done with blogging is writing well. So you don’t need to spend time doing stuff like guest blogging, and tweeting, and other time-consuming promotional activities. You just need to write well.
I realized that I was spending a lot of time telling people that good writing means writing about yourself, but people didn’t know how to do that. So with this webinar I’m taking the key to making a blog successful and focusing on only that — the personal angle.
I’m booked. Can’t wait.
I posted a comment on James Altucher’s blog and he replied that I should write a book. So … I’m signed up to learn how! :) Looking forward to it Penenlope (sorry, couldn’t resist)
I signed up but didn’t get a confirmation email so now I’m paranoid that it didn’t go through. Should I be getting a confirmation email?
I didn’t get a confirmation email either. Perhaps it’s coming from Penelope with instructions later vs an auto-reply type thing?
Patricia and Hope: The confirmation comes to the address you use for PayPal. So if it’s an email address you don’t usually check, you should check it for the confirmation email.
Thanks for signing up!
It went through Paypal so all is good now.
Thats great idea. Thank you sharing such useful information.
Whew! Scary – but I did it! Yours is the onliest blog that I read. Funny that you mentioned it, but I’ve wondered what makes your blog so compelling, so page-turning… and, I’ve wondered about your incredible linkages. Have been told that I “should write a book” more times than I can count. Am looking forward to your webinar. Thanks!
I can’t wait. Looking forward to it. The personal stuff is sooooo scary.
I am based in India, will the webinar be available internationally?
Also Penelope, I don’t know if you remember but I once did a short term assignment for you when you were doing background marketing research via blogs for the book you published in 2008. I was the student from University of Wisconsin who did some of this research for you, Been following your blog since.
Love your writing.
Do you have an ebook that is similar to the course? I have a hearing impairment and won’t be able to follow the webinair. Thanks
Will you be sending instructions (do we log on to something somewhere…)?
Looking forward to the sessions but I don’t know how they are being conducted.
I’m looking forward to your seminar!
The seminar is tomorrow. I’m signed up. But I am unclear as to how it will work. Will you be emailing participants a “join the meeting” link or some other way to jump in? Also, will there be a forum where we post our blogging for you to look at and comment upon? Any further information you can give me will be appreciated. Julie Trump
I signed up on 12/1/12. How does it work? I did not receive any instructions!
Why am I having such a difficult time finding the link to view the webinar??
Nice ideas, but I think you need to explore the afterlife. By being so self-absorbed and teaching others to be the same way while profiting from this selfish pursuit and helping others keep Uncle Sam fed and happy, you are simply risking your eternal life… I would characterize the goal of the webinar as helping people write about subjective rather than the boring and insipid objective world, but not necessarily about oneself… That would be supremely boring not just to me as a writer, but to the reader. Write about my perspective on life makes sense. Writing about me me me is a turn off. I have unfollowed many a blog and defriended many an old friend for pretending to be the sun that rules everyone else’s life! That said, I like what you have to say about homeschooling, very very much. It is giving me the gumption I need to move my older daughter out of school and back to the bosom of home. She needs it!! So thanks.
I signed up for your web seminar on Nov. 15th, which is scheduled to start today. I haven’t received instructions (or a link) to listen, and I notice the money ($150.00) hasn’t been taken out of my account. I have an item number on my paypal receipt. Can you help with this? Thanks, Jane
Hi Penelope I have just signed up for the course, got confirmation for the payment from Paypal but didn’t get the the email with instruction for the course yet? Don’t want to miss any more of live webinar, does it take long to get acccess into the system?
I got the PayPal confirmation and my card was charged, but have no further information on how to participate.
Can anyone confirm if this program is happening or not?
So bummed that I missed this. Any chance you will be holding another similar workshop soon?
I loved doing this seminar. We all had so much fun. So I’ll definitely do another. Maybe in the spring.
Penelope… will the content be available later? I am interested.
There are recordings. If you want to pay the $195 fee for the recordings, I could do that. You can send an email to me if you’re interested.
Greetings from the Carolinas. I signed up for your recent webinar but was unable to watch any of it. I’m interested in accessing the recordings. What address or login should I access? Thanks. Terry Dixon
I love your creation, you have such an amazing eye for this kind of thing. keep them coming, i truly enjoy your talent!!! Excellent Job i really enjoyed reading your post thanks for sharing.
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