Welcome to The Unschool for Writers

The Unschool is a good space for those who are serious about their writing. And enjoy the process!

Subscribers’ words:

“DIY is filled with articles that are both helpful and thought-provoking, as are comments on them, and on submissions. The calendar idea, which I tweaked to fit my own need, is an exercise that continues to give me insights to my novel that spends too long untouched. Adding scenes, rearranging chronology, deleting scenes have breathed new life into my understanding of how to structure what I'm writing.” ~~~ A.W.

“The Unschool is a fresh water spring in the rugged landscape of the writing life. After each visit, I'm renewed, ready to keep going.”  ~~~L.N.

“Via the Unschool, I get ongoing mentoring from an author whose work I truly admire, but the format allows me to set my own pace and level of connection. I can ‘jump in’ and interact, or simply read and learn on my own. I love it!” ~~~ E.B.

“Stumbling upon The Unschool has done wonders for my inspiration as a writer. Since subscribing to this supportive community, I've written multiple poems, began exploring short fiction (something I'd never tried my hand at previously!), and started journaling again after almost a year away as a new mom.” ~~~ T.N.

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I have been teaching since 1996, starting with what we used to call “night school,” and ending up in a multiple-genre MFA program (Master of Fine Arts).

But the teaching I’ve most enjoyed was several years of Monday afternoons spent with homelearners of all ages. From them, and from the experience of walking away from academia, I have come to value the path of the autodidact—learners who follow the urge to explore individual paths, who seek out their own material, and who pay attention to their own rhythm and timing for this. This last is key, and is what “unschooling” is about.

Part of the wonder (and challenge) of writing is that no matter how much you have learned, each project has many new challenges and points of growth. So while there are posts here—such as the “Foundational” series, for the beginning writer—many are for all writers on their own rhythm and time. Each month I add to the Index, with all posts categorized.

We hear and absorb what we need to, when and as we need it… Take your time with the posts. There are about ten new ones each month; you don’t need to read all. They’ll be here when you need them.

Recently, an experienced writer who is an Unschoool subscriber shared with me that she’s been working for some weeks now with the post about using calendar pages to organize a novel. This idea has allowed her to work out the flow, as well the gaps in her novel. She’s been focused on this, and ignoring the other posts! And this is exactly how it works. So browse the Index, and see what reaches out to you.

My hope is that The Unschool can play a solid role in your development as a writer, as well as in that other piece of being a writer: finding, creating, and sustaining Community. That is key, too. Online community is ideal for the writer. The are many opportunities for comments and questions here, and we’ve just wrapped up our first “mini-course.” Writers posted stories and shared feedback. This will happen again early in the spring of 2022. On the first of every month, there’s a newsletter prompt with a thread posted to share and offer feedback, too.

My educational path has been a bit different: as a young person, I took some years of education by “correspondence,” then left school altogether at fifteen, went to trade school, and owned a small hair salon by age twenty-two. Several years later, I enrolled in college as a “mature” student. I published my first book—a children’s historical novel—at age thirty-two.

Over the past twenty-five years, I’ve published (with traditional publishers, with and without an agent) eleven books in many genres, from picturebooks to YA novels, and from adult fiction to memoir. My experiences have built my knowledge-base for teaching.

In my academic life, I advised over fifty creative writing theses for MFA students, including these: Fishtailing, by Wendy Phillips, a YA novel which, by some lovely fluke, I ended up editing for publication as a freelance-task (and which was awarded Canada’s highest honour, the Governor General’s Prize for fiction for young people), and Zorgamazoo, by Robert Paul Weston, a zany verse novel for young readers (which has won a number of awards, including the E.B. White Read-Aloud Award).

Why subscribe?

On the home page there is a sidebar under “Unschool Community” under which, you will see “SUBSCRIBE.” Or you may encounter a “subscribe now” prompt in any one of the posts.

It will look like this, below, and when you click on it…

…it will look like this:

You can choose from the options of $60/year or $6/month or “free.” Click on the one that is best for you and your budget. A “founding member” $100 level is also an option.

Free subscribers

Will receive the monthly newsletter in their inbox on the first of the month. This usually has an exercise or prompt, and a couple days later I post a comment thread, on which you can post your response to the prompt, and we can share feedback.

Mid-month (approximately), you will receive another post. This post is often written in response to readers’ questions. I release other posts as well, some will be for paid readers and some few for free. As of spring 2022, there is a “workshop space”—this is for paid folks only, to post work (send to me via email to post: alison@alisonacheson.com), and leave feedback for each other.

If you don’t want to commit to a year, you might consider checking out The Unschool for a few months.

Paid subscribers

Have access to all posts and archived material, and to comments, feedback, and “extras”—for instance, support through the weekend of the 3 Day Novel Contest or the current class and workshop.

The Unschool exists because of those willing to support, and I am so grateful for each of you—thank you! Know that each paid subscriber makes a difference!

Questions?

Don’t hesitate to let me know what is on your mind and what is of use to you as we write on…

Email: alison@alisonacheson.com

Wishing you Peace—

Alison

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