Write of Passage

Version Notes

This post is a summary of the improvements made to Write of Passage in each cohort.

Version 7

September 2021

  • New live sessions: We reviewed every moment of live instruction, and compressed the material down into the twelve densely packed sessions. We ran POP Writing on the first Friday of the course. Otherwise, live sessions were on Mondays and Wednesdays. Moving from sixteen to twelve live sessions gives students space to focus on writing, publishing, and exchanging feedback each week.
  • Feedback Pods: After running an experiment last cohort, feedback pods have now been elevated to a new layer of the Write of Passage course community. All students will have the option to opt-in to a small group of five students in a similar time zone. They’ll exchange writing feedback with their group in Circle and over live calls.
  • Systematized writing feedback: In Cohort 7, every Write of Passage article draft will receive feedback. We’ve built a backend data warehouse to track assignment submissions and article feedback. Students will see a table display of submitted articles and articles that still need feedback. We also built out a small team of alumni to serve as Community Stewards, to ensure that students feel supported with article feedback and across the course forum.
  • Always-on community: We focused on helping students meet fellow Write of Passage students, intentionally and through serendipity. This cohort we’ll introducing a new platform that will serve as a hub for real-time communication among students throughout the cohort.
  • Updated feedback guide. Exchanging writing feedback is a core component of Write of Passage. We’ve created a new guide to sharing article feedback, including updated methods, checklists, and guided video instructions.
  • Updated Initiation Workshop: All new students will now be asked to complete the “Big Five” activities before the course kicks off. This includes students’ website setup, Start Here page, and Information Capture system. Returning students are encouraged to refresh their writing infrastructure, too. We’ve created a new Course Overview video to make these steps as clear as possible.
  • Expanded Mentor Groups: We have a new team of Alumni Mentors offering thirteen weekly Mentor Groups. These sessions will include presentations, discussions, live exercises, and Q&As. No matter what time zone you’re in, you’ll find options that fit your schedule.
  • Welcome Back Alumni call: All returning alumni were invited to our first-ever welcome back call. We caught up, built excitement for the new cohort, and talked about students’ latest writing in breakout rooms.

Version 6

February 2021

  • New video modules: The live session curriculum will be supplemented by brand-new pre-recorded video modules. These modules will introduce core Write of Passage concepts, which opens up live sessions for new material. All new modules have been filmed with a professional crew. 
  • Revamped live sessions: We’ve reviewed every minute of the live sessions. The updated material will feature ideas from David’s “50 Days of Writing” series of articles, plus fresh metaphors and new examples. Sessions will still emphasize breakout rooms, writing exercises, and group discussion. We want these calls to be as active as possible.
  • Updated writing curriculum: The Friday writing curriculum has been refined from last cohort. Among the changes: you’ll find a new session on growing your email list, plus a new POP Writing exercise designed by our Lead Mentor Charlie Bleecker.
  • Preparation Week: We’ve built in an extra week before the course starts. Enrollment closes on February 17th, but the kickoff session isn’t until February 24th. New and returning students will have a chance to focus on their websites, Start Here pages, and information capture before live sessions begin. You’ll find new tutorials for Info Capture and website setup (Squaresspace and WordPress) in the “Initiation Workshop” section of Teachable.
  • New ways to meet others: We’re focused on helping you meet fellow Write of Passage students, intentionally and through serendipity. You’ll have several new ways to “find the others” this cohort – join to find out more!
  • Interest Group support: Student-created Interest Groups in Circle that meet certain criteria will receive support from the team, including Zoom links and support for a group moderator. This will give groups the chance to self-organize their own live calls.
  • Feedback guide. Exchanging writing feedback is a core component of Write of Passage. You’ll receive a detailed guide for how to leave constructive feedback for fellow WOP students.
  • Expanded Writing Groups: We have a new team of Alumni Mentors offering 13 weekly Writing Groups. These optional Zoom sessions will include 45 minutes of exercises and discussion, followed by 15-30 minutes of 1:1 writing feedback in breakout rooms. They’ll be held at various times throughout the week. No matter what time zone you’re in, you’ll find options that fit your schedule.

Version 5

July 2020

  • “Mechanics of Writing” curriculum: I added four new live sessions to the curriculum, focused on the mechanics of online writing. They’re focused on four themes: style, words, sentences, and overall structure. It’s a synthesis of the best writing strategies and techniques I’ve discovered since I started writing online.
  • New Friday classes: The new writing curriculum will be delivered through Friday live sessions, which will run each Friday from 12pm – 1pm ET (UTC -4:00). These sessions are included as an addition to regular Monday/Wednesday sessions at 8pm ET. Cohort 5 features a total of 16 live sessions across five weeks (July 1st – August 5th).
  • Revamped live sessions: We performed an audit of the entire course curriculum. Cohort 5 live sessions will emphasize breakout rooms, live exercises, and real-time demos. We want the live sessions to be as active as possible. 

  • Segmented video recordings: All course recordings will be divided into 5-15 minute segments, making it easier to re-watch particular moments and lesson topics.

  • Audio recordings: We’ll share downloadable audio recordings of all 16 live sessions. You’ll have lifetime access to these, as well as all course materials. 

  • Write of Passage Knowledge Base: A collection of frequently asked questions from past cohorts, along with answers from David. We’ll continue to add to this database over time. 

  • Write of Passage Media Library: You’ll have access to an additional Teachable curriculum with reference material and bonus videos that focus on different aspects of the writing process. Examples include: how to generate ideas, alumni tips on how to get “crazy value” out of Write of Passage, and a tour of David’s Evernote. 

  • Opt-in Writing Groups: In addition to weekday sessions and Saturday “CrossFit for Writing” sessions, we’re rolling out new Writing Group sessions. Taught by our team of alumni mentors, these calls will consist of 30 minutes of group discussion, followed by 30 minutes of 1:1 writing feedback. They’ll be held at various times on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, designed to accommodate students in different time zones. 

  • Revamped course forum: We introduced the new Circle course forum in Cohort 4. In the past four months, the platform and forum design has improved substantially. In addition to space for writing feedback, small groups, and resources, the forum now includes: 

  • A course members area, with photos and bios of fellow Write of Passage students

  • Direct messaging for 1:1 student conversation 

  • “Spotlights” area to highlight specific students’ writing 

  • Comments synced in real-time with lesson comments in the Teachable curriculum 

  • Student-created Interest Groups: Students can create their own interest groups on the Circle course forum, organized across any topic (ex: philosophy, Spanish speakers, UK residents, book recommendations). 

  • Course roadmap diagnostic assessment: We’ve rebuilt the onboarding and completion surveys from scratch. At the beginning of the course, you’ll complete a survey that assesses your current abilities across ten different dimensions, creating your Online Writing Process score. After the course, you’ll retake the survey and receive a comparison of how your results changed throughout the course. 

Version 4

February 2020

  • New Community Center: A new course forum, hosted on Circle (rather than Discourse). We’re one of the early adopters of this new community platform, which has a familiar Facebook-like interface without all the noise.  

  • Initiation Week: We’ll hold regional Zoom meetups during the first five days of the course (Feb 20th – 24th). These smaller group calls offer the chance for students to meet and build relationships as the course kicks off and energy is high. 

  • Feedback groups: Students will be placed in small groups for the duration of the course. These groups will be for assignment submission, discussion, and feedback. You’ll exchange article feedback at the group level, which will help make a large course feel small.   

  • Alumni Mentors: A group of Write of Passage alumni will help to support and mentor new students throughout the cohort.

  • Saturday Live Writing Workshops: Students call this “Crossfit for Writing.” Each Saturday at 12pm EST we’ll gather on Zoom to write the weekly assignment in a rapid-fire series of steps over two hours. We tried this twice in Cohort 3 and it was a hit.   

  • Student Directory: We’ll provide a full list of students, including names, locations, and websites. You’ll have the option to add your email address and Twitter handle, which will make it easier to connect with others.

  • POP Writing: A new framework for making your writing memorable. We’ll talk about how to make your writing distinct by aiming to be personal, observational, and playful. 

Version 3

November 2019

  • Information Capture section: We added a bonus module on idea management and information capture to help students manage their ideas and write from abundance.

  • Heavier Focus on Writing: We increased the number of writing-focused assignments in the course.

  • Revamped Initiation Workshop: Students will set up their full writing infrastructure, such as a website and an email newsletter before the first live session. As they do, they’ll follow the Write of Passage toolkit with feature comparisons.

  • Updated Assignments: Added assignment variety to focus on different writing styles. The updated assignments come with increased direction so students can spend more time writing.

  • Formal Assignment Submission Process: Students will follow a dedicated assignment submission process instead of sharing them on the forum.

  • Breakout Room Topics: Discussion topics will now be sent before every live lecture. That way, students can prepare for their live conversations before they begin. Feedback-focused breakout rooms will now come at the end of the live sessions, instead of the middle.

  • Improved Intra-class Networking: Students can learn about each other using a “Bio Book” on the online forum. On the first week, they’ll join a writing group to build camaraderie and encourage student-to-student feedback.

  • Optional Industry Groups: Students will be able to connect with peers who work in the same industry.

  • Deeper Alumni Engagement: We added an ambassador program so alumni can continue to participate in Write of Passage once the course is over.

  • New Recorded Video Sessions: More showing. Less telling. The new collection of videos includes direct responses to common psychological obstacles, such as writer’s block, imposter syndrome, and fear of judgment.

  • Detailed Course Schedule and Syllabus: This document serves as a central source of truth for all things Write of Passage. Students will find a detailed description for all the assignments, course tools, and live sessions.

  • Improved Writing Feedback Process: We’ve added an alumni feedback team and ambassador program to accelerate the speed of feedback and give students a chance to receive mentorship from alumni.

  • Global Zoom Meet-up Groups: Students will have time to meet in a casual setting on Zoom. The experience is a mix between a social club and a coffee shop, where like-minded people can speak freely and chat casually.

Version 2

August 2019

  • Live Meet-up Groups: Write of Passage will become an in-person experience. Students will meet in-person across major cities around the world with three live gatherings in five weeks.

  • Course On-Boarding Survey: Students will receive a more personalized experience by completing a survey before the course begins.

  • Initiation Workshop: Students can complete their online home and email newsletter before the course begins.

  • Recorded Module #3 Lecture: The new-and-improved module 3 lecture builds off the Initiation workshop.

  • Shorter Assignment: Transitioned away from one long-form essay to a series of short assignments, designed to help students build the publishing habit.