Writing Our Lives — Spring 2016 Schedule of Classes



Upcoming classes:

– FREE Class January 30th, 12-5pm

– Six-Week Personal Essay Class ($420 tuition) February 20, 27, March 5, 12, 19, 26, 12-5pm

– Claiming Your Voice Class April 2 & 9, 12-5p

– Generative “Write Your Ass Off” Class Date TBA

– Writing Our Lives is also going on-line in April 2016 – details forthcoming


FREE One Day Class

Date: January 30th

Time: 12-5pm

Location: Manhattan

To register: Send an email to Vanessa_martir@yahoo.com with “Free One Day Class” in the Subject Line.

Why do I offer this one day class for free?

Because I believe in paying it forward. Because when you have a gift, I believe you are supposed to share it with the world. Because I get that there are some who can’t afford my six week class, don’t have six consecutive Saturdays to spare, or have other mitigating factors that make attendance impossible. This is my gift to you. No strings attached. All I ask is that you do the pre-reading (yes, there’s homework) and you come in ready to learn, write and dig into your life stories.


Six Week Essentials of the Personal Essay Class

Dates: February 20, 27, March 5, 12, 19, 26

Times: 12-5pm

Tuition: $420 — payment plans & partial scholarships available, see below for detail

To register and/or ask for more information, email: vanessa_martir@yahoo.com with “Writing Our Lives: Essentials of the Personal Essay” in the Subject Line. There is a $100 nonrefundable deposit to hold your seat. The deposit goes towards your tuition.

The class is capped at 13 students.

What you need to know:

– This class is designed for people who are new (or fairly new) to writing the personal essay/memoir and know they want to take on the challenge.

– Or perhaps you are interested in writing a memoir and want to get your feet wet in essays. As a memoir writer myself I can tell you that the personal essay is the micro of the macro that is memoir.

– Maybe you’re a seasoned writer who wants to brush up on the essentials. There’s room for you too! Legend has it that Alvin Ailey used to take a basics dance class once a year even after he created his now renowned dance school, “to remind myself,” he said.

– In the class we will dig into the fundamentals of writing personal essays: how to decide what to write, how to start, how to read essays like writers (because reading like a writer and reading like a reader are not the same thing), how to build well-developed characters, write dialogue, etc.

– We will be reading essays and dissecting them, analyzing why the author made the decision(s) he or she made. We’ll also be doing tons of writing. The final project is a 1500 word essay.


Still not sure if this class is for you? Ask yourself this:

– Have you read essays and wanted to write your own but the thoughts get lost in translation, somewhere between the brain and your fingertips?

– Have you tried to write essays but find it hard to finish?

– Have you wondered how writers write their amazing essays but think you just don’t have the chops but wish you did? (Side note: You do have the chops!)

– Do you write religiously (or sporadically) in your journal and wish (maybe even know) you could make those streams of consciousness into essays?

– Are you a writer (perhaps you’ve written poetry or fiction) who wants a refresher on the techniques you take for granted so you can take a stab at essay writing?

– Have you heard some great things about Writing Our Lives and want to see Vanessa in action?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, this class is for you.


Let’s talk $$$: Price is $420 — Payment plans are available. There is a $100 nonrefundable deposit to hold your seat. The deposit goes towards your tuition. If you are interested in a payment plan, you must arrange this BEFORE class begins.

Scholarships: Need based, partial scholarships available on a first come, first serve basis. To apply, send a letter explaining your financial need–i.e. unemployed, underemployed, etc. Also explain why you think you need this workshop, what you expect to gain from it, and why you think you are deserving of the scholarship beyond your financial need. Send the letter to: vanessa_martir@yahoo.com with “Writing Our Lives Workshop Scholarship” in the subject line.

Project: maximum 1500 word essay which will be workshopped by both the students and the facilitator on the last day of class on March 26th. More details will be provided in class.


Claiming Your Voice Class

Dates: April 2nd & 9th

Time: 12-5pm

Location: Manhattan

Tuition: $60 for one class, $120 for both — There is a non-refundable $30 deposit to reserve your seat. Deposit goes towards your tuition.

To register: Send an email to Vanessa_martir@yahoo.com with “Claiming Your Voice ” in the Subject Line.

What is voice? What are publishers and agents referring to when they say they’re looking for a strong, original voice?

Have you found yourself wondering what your voice is? Do you find that you can tell your stories but they don’t sound the same when you write them down?

Are you struggling to write in a voice that is unique to you and your stories?

Ever met someone and felt empowered by their story and wonder how they learned to write so fluidly and honestly?

I created the Claiming Your Voice Class just for you!

This is an intensive writing class where I, Vanessa Mártir, will lead you through various exercises with the aim of uncovering/re-discovering your voice. Why do you need this class? Because you’ve been told repeatedly, directly and subliminally, that you are not good enough and that your stories are not worthy. You’ve been taught to write in ways that stunt your writing and expression. You’ve been taught that you have to write a certain way and that way negates your cultural influences and verbal tics and everything that makes you you. I get it. It was done to me too, and I’ve written about it,and it has become one of my missions as a writer and educator to help writers discover and learn to write in their own distinctive voices, because that’s where your power is. We will read. We will discuss. We will write. A LOT.


History of Writing Our Lives for you inquiring minds:

Why did I create this class?

Why do I continue to teach this class and reinvent it each time?


How is Vanessa Mártir qualified to teach this class?

Vanessa Mártir is a writer, public speaker, educator and mama. . She is currently completing her memoir, Relentless. Vanessa chronicles her memoir-writing journey in her blog: vanessamartir.wordpress.com. Vanessa’s essays have been published widely in journals and anthologies, including The Butter, Poets and Writers, Huffington Post, Kweli Journal, Thought Catalog, and the VONA/Voices Anthology, Dismantle, among others. Vanessa has penned two novels, Woman’s Cry (Augustus Publishing, 2007) and The Right Play (unpublished), and most recently co-wrote Do Something!: A Handbook for Young Activists (Workman Books, 2010). In 2010, Vanessa resigned from her full-time editing position to write and teach full-time. Vanessa is a five-time VONA/Voices fellow and now serves as the Workshop Director and newsletter editor. She created the Writing Our Lives Workshop in 2011 and has since led more than 200 emerging writers through the journey of writing personal essays and memoirs. Vanessa is the recipient of the 2013 Jerome Foundation Fellowship, and works as a teaching artist for community organizations like East Harlem Tutorial Program (EHTP) and Teachers & Writers Collaborative. Most recently she was accepted to Tin House’s Winter 2016 Nonfiction Workshop where she will be working with Lacy B. Johnson Vanessa attended Columbia University and is an A Better Chance (ABC) alumna.


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