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Writing Your Story

Join acclaimed memoirist Joyce Maynard and discover how to write personal true stories that your readers will never forget.
Writing Your Story is rated 4.2 out of 5 by 32.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Engaging, inspiring and authentic Writing "her" story has been Joyce Maynard's life. She is the rare author who is able to articulate process in a practical way, and the even more rare teacher who is able to relate to their students. Beyond Maynard's engaging manner, this interactive format held my interest as it intertwines practical guidelines with the students' experience and questions. There is quite an effective "how to" series of episodes where Maynard works individually with several students. Many teachers are happy to say they teach because they "can't do" - this is teaching from an experienced practioner. It is rare for a teacher to be as open and vulnerable as Maynard; I really felt as if I was taking part in this discussion.
Date published: 2021-11-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Workshop I was ready to throw in the towel (after a dry period) and realized that it was because I wasn't being authentic. I learned a great deal and to date, this is the best writing workshop I have attended. Thank you.
Date published: 2021-10-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Transformational Loved it, loved it, loved it! I must admit at the beginning I wasn't sure if I will like it as the format is much more different than the rest of the Great Courses - it is a recording from the live event with a lot of interaction from real audience, with their questions and some even share their stories in front of the cameras... But for this particular topic I think it worked very well. Joyce has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to writing memoirs, she has written several herself and helped many people write their own. Some people complain that she's not an academic.. so what? She's been writing and publishing for 40+ years. She's very honest, animated and lively and I think some reviewers have problem with that and trash her in their reviews and I don't think she deserves any rating lower than 4, even lower than 5 to be honest. I have taken many classes with Great Courses, all have been great, I have never been disappointed with any of the lecturers so far, but this definitely stands out and I will remember it over all the others. I highly recommend this workshop. If you were to attend live you would have to pay way more. If you want to write a memoir this course is excellent. Do not listen to people who attack her because of her story about Salinger. It was her right to tell the story. She had waited very long time before she told that story, she's not an attention seeker, she could have told that story when it happened 45 years ago, but she didn't. Do not judge her story. Do not judge her memoir. It was her story and she had the right to tell it. You have the right to tell your own story, so go and do it, and wait for the reviews. I hope they will only be good ones, even for those who left bad reviews for Joyce's wonderful course. Get the course and write your story!
Date published: 2021-10-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Writing Your Story: Helpful, engaging, thorough I have only two lessons left of the course, but I have thoroughly enjoyed it so far. Joyce Maynard gives lots of helpful suggestions and advice and backs it up with a wealth of experience. I would whole heartedly recommend this course to anyone wanting to write a memoir.
Date published: 2021-09-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfect leaning late in life I have purchased 4 course so far: three on DVDs and one just online. I enjoy both ways. Very in-depth yet entertaining. The presenters are quite knowledgeable so I know I’m getting great information.
Date published: 2021-07-01
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A contradiction of The course eventually morphed into an episode of Oprah( which she referred as a sign of success-- to appear on her couch) Maureen Dowd had some very unflattering words about Joyce Maynard who sold the love letters from JD Salinger. and at times miss Maynard does appear to be an opportunist with traces of narcissism by appearing to settle scores even within this venue with her ex husband and JD Salinger. At one point she says its not about the money and she wanted to protect the reclusive writer's privacy, then why sell those letters? At one point she listened to a few people's stories and made them feel that this was an episode of "This is Your Life" or" Dr Phil." complete with gasps from the pre selected audience of her adoring fans. By the end, it just became an episode of this is your life for Joyce where she was showcasing her work and how great it must be to be Joyce. "Any questions? Oh I love questions." ...But enough about me as a writer, victim, survivor and mother-- what do you think about me?
Date published: 2021-04-22
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disgusting! I am trying to watch Lesson 19, but I am constantly being taken to Lesson 20. What is wrong with this lesson?
Date published: 2021-02-20
Rated 2 out of 5 by from This is not Great Courses??? I have no idea what this is? This is not a college course. This is some memoir, self-help, seminar mumbo-jumbo. I have watched dozens of Great Courses and they are ALL polished, college level academia. This is a live talk show? I have no idea what this is. Many of the talks are 10 minutes. This is not a developed curriculum. I think the error is entirely from Great Courses, they should have never approved this in their catalogue. It is not delivered like their typical materials are delivered....
Date published: 2021-02-13
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Discover how to translate your life into captivating, resonant stories with Writing Your Story, by acclaimed memoirist Joyce Maynard. In 26 lessons with the feel of a friendly, collaborative writing workshop, you'll explore how to identify the right stories to tell; examine tips and tricks with language, dialogue, and description; and find inspiration for everything from cultivating a writing practice to handling rejection.


Joyce Maynard
Joyce Maynard

My job here is to give you permission to tell your story.



A native of New Hampshire, Joyce Maynard began publishing her stories in magazines when she was thirteen years old. She first came to national attention with the publication of her New York Times cover story, “An Eighteen Year Old Looks Back on Life”, in 1972, when she was a freshman at Yale. Since then, she has been a reporter and columnist for The New York Times, a syndicated newspaper columnist whose “Domestic Affairs” column appeared in over fifty papers nationwide, a regular contributor to NPR and national magazines including Vogue, The New York Times Magazine, and many more. She is a longtime performer with The Moth. 

Maynard is the author of seventeen books, including the novel To Die For and the best-selling memoir, At Home in the World—translated into sixteen languages. Her novel, To Die For, was adapted for the screen by Buck Henry for a film directed by Gus Van Sant, in which Joyce can be seen in the role of Nicole Kidman’s lawyer. Her novel Labor Day was adapted and directed by Jason Reitman for a film starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin, to whom Joyce offered instruction for making the pie that appeared in a crucial scene in the film.

The mother of three grown children, Maynard runs workshops in memoir at her home in Lafayette California. In 2002 she founded The Lake Atitlan Writing Workshop in San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala, where she hosts a weeklong workshop in personal storytelling every winter.

She is a fellow of The MacDowell Colony and Yaddo.

By This Expert

Writing Your Story
Writing Your Story


What Happens When We Keep Secrets?

01: What Happens When We Keep Secrets?

8 min
Name Your Obsessions

02: Name Your Obsessions

13 min
Stick to Your Story

03: Stick to Your Story

17 min
Identify Your Journey

04: Identify Your Journey

6 min
Take Your Story Apart

05: Take Your Story Apart

16 min
The Landing Place

06: The Landing Place

9 min
The Honesty Question

07: The Honesty Question

5 min
What's the Worst That Can Happen?

08: What's the Worst That Can Happen?

7 min
Descriptive versus Interpretive Language

09: Descriptive versus Interpretive Language

11 min
Diagramming the Sentence

10: Diagramming the Sentence

9 min
The Importance of Economy

11: The Importance of Economy

10 min
Dialogue and Rhythm

12: Dialogue and Rhythm

9 min
Six Common Mistakes Writers Make

13: Six Common Mistakes Writers Make

8 min
The Paragraph

14: The Paragraph

3 min
Building the Arc

15: Building the Arc

3 min
The Test of a Good Memoir

16: The Test of a Good Memoir

17 min
The Container

17: The Container

4 min
Two Containers from Scratch

18: Two Containers from Scratch

30 min
Developing Your Container

19: Developing Your Container

18 min
Dissecting a Good Container Essay

20: Dissecting a Good Container Essay

30 min
The Writing Life

21: The Writing Life

3 min
Creating a Writing Practice

22: Creating a Writing Practice

22 min
What Gets in Your Way?

23: What Gets in Your Way?

15 min
The Not-Writing Process

24: The Not-Writing Process

11 min
Criticism and Rejection

25: Criticism and Rejection

4 min
What Happens When We Tell Our Truth?

26: What Happens When We Tell Our Truth?

32 min