“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft."

--Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life


On this episode, we’re talking about creating a likable narrator. The narrator is the I in the story. It’s YOU. What people connect to in stories and in life are times when the narrator was vulnerable and ugly. By “ugly” we mean the stuff you don’t want people to know. You will hear 5 ways to find the ugly in your story.

Student, Misha Mehrel shows that being a dick is a sure way to be a likeable narrator. Student, Karen Collazo shows that even admitting to being a potential thief--because she’s admitting the truth--makes you a likeable narrator. And, Allison Langer proves to be a likable narrator in a stunningly honest story called Ungrateful Little Piece of Shit.


EPISODE 39: Get Out of Your Way and Write.

On today’s episode we’re talking about getting out of our own way when writing a story. The writing process starts with getting the truth on paper.

We write about situations or problems we’re dealing with or have dealt with, things we’re still trying to understand or resolve. The goal is getting to the reason we’re writing the story and what the story is really about.

In this episode, you'll hear student Misha Mehrel’s story Bad Breath. Misha brought this piece to class a couple of weeks ago and it needed very little editing. You will also hear an interview with Misha about his writing process. Misha was wary of writing about his father’s cancer diagnosis. What he did instead was start by writing about physical problems that had been bothering him. He wrote graphically and intimately about his breath and bowel movements, which served to free him up to write about his dad.


EPISODE 38: Write Better by Mimicking the Masters

We think it’s worth copying a method that works because we know it worked in the past. Learn the rules before breaking them.

In this episode, you'll hear stories that mimic the style of Boys, a story by Rick Moody. Nilsa Rivera, Leah Messing and Andrea Askowitz nailed it. This style enabled them to take the listener into their worlds. The stories were written in the third person, but were still extremely intimate and specific.


Episode 37: Ready to Write that Memoir or Novel? Nov. is National Novel Writing Month.

Welcome to #NaNoWriMo. We have executive director, Grant Faulkner on our show. We’re talking about novels because we go both ways. And also because storytelling principles are the same when writing fiction or nonfiction. Get inspired and join millions of people around the world who are racing to finish a book this month. Allison’s in the race.

Grant talks with us about his new book, “Pep Talks For Writers. 52 Insights and Actions to Boost Your Creative Mojo.” Faulkner talks about the importance of what you wear when you write, making time to write, and knowing thyself.

You’ll hear from students Aaron Curtis, Liz Marquardt and producer Virginia Lora who responded to Grant's tip #25, You are what you wear. You will also hear from Mike Gonzalez, a student in the class Allison teaches at the Dade Correctional Institution as a facilitator for Exchange for Change


Episode 36: Hurricanes and Stories Define Us, Since the Beginning of Time

This episode was conceived after Hurricane Irma blew through South Florida. The entire state seemed to be preoccupied if not scared to death, leading up to the moment Irma made landfall on September 10, 2017.

You’ll hear Andrea's Rabbi talk about how she prepared for the sermon she delivered just days after the community went through this traumatic event.

You will also hear students Karen Collazo, Misha Mehrel, Allison Langer, and teacher Andrea Askowitz tell their raw, first draft stories in response to the prompt A Hurricane’s Coming, Stay or Go. You’ll also hear from listeners Valerie Vargas and Carol Coombes, who sent us their stories.

 This episode was created through a collaboration with The Miami Foundation’s #MyMiamiStories


Episode 35: What Makes You You?

This episode is about character, the things that make you you. We speak with award winning author, Tiphanie Yanique who says character is the most important element in storytelling and lays out the ways character is created. 

You will hear stories from student Nicki Post and Tobi Ash. You’ll also hear quick responses to the prompt: No One Would Ever Marry Me Because... by students Nilsa Rivera and Virginia Lora.


Episode 34: Let’s Ignore Writing Class Protocol and Talk About Our Lives.

In this episode, we go off the rails...a little. We invited our class into Allison’s living room where in addition to writing advice, we gave life advice.

Allison allowed the students to comment on the narrator’s life and allowed the narrator to defend herself. Two things we never allow in class. The prompt was “good enough.”

In addition to Andrea and Allison, you will hear a prompt response from student Lis Mesa as well as feedback from producer Virginia Lora and student Viccy Simon.


Episode 33: Great Writing Starts With a Question. What Don’t You Understand?

In this episode, you will meet Jeana Fleming, the winner of Writing Class Radio’s spring writing contest. Andrea and Allison weigh in on why they chose her story and what makes the writing so great. 

Allison talks about Exchange for Change, an organization based in Miami, Florida that offers writing classes to incarcerated men and women. Allison spends two hours every Wednesday with 18 inmates at the Dade Correctional Institute. She helps them write their true and personal stories.


Episode 32: Will This Ever End?

In this episode, Allison and Andrea are talking about endings. How to end an essay when often the issues we write about are ongoing. Should we know the ending when we begin? Does the end of the essay have to show a change in the narrator? Can we show change or find meaning without distance? Can we leave the reader to interpret the ending or must we bang them over the head with the change? Listen as we answer these questions.

We bring you examples of great endings from students Lis Mesa and Aaron Curtis, who worked on their stories in and out of class. Phoebe Scott, a listener in Tennessee and student Viccy Simon share short prompt responses.


Episode 31: Take Me Into Your World.

In this episode, Allison and Andrea are talking about worlds again.

The first story is by student Viccy Simon who takes us into her world of a minyan, which is a ten person Jewish prayer group.

Then Andrea tells her story, Softball Lesbian.