Media and Writing Courses 2019

I never know who’s going to sign up for my communications courses.

Last semester, I was pleasantly surprised when one of my former Los Angeles Times colleagues, an award-winning photojournalist, enrolled in my course on social media.

“I want to let you know that I’ve enjoyed the class tremendously, and I sure learned a lot…,” the student wrote to me after the course finished. “Thanks a million!” The pleasure was mine. In her case, connecting, re-connecting and deepening familial relations was a major goal for studying how to advance her grasp and mastery of social media. Others seek fulfillment of goals to make money, start a business or switch to a new career.

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Helping each student reach a goal is its own reward.

Besides professional social media managers, screenwriters and entertainment industry executives, I’ve had doctors, engineers and lawyers enroll in the course, which now includes membership in my alumni network. We gather with my Writing Boot Camp students and alumni from time to time for social meeting, mixing and networking.

Young and old adults alike enroll in classes, which often include Hollywood cast, crew and, sometimes, those considered by some to be screen legends, including an Oscar-winning makeup artist and the actress who served as model for the animated character Tinkerbell in Walt Disney’s 1953 classic Peter Pan. This year marks five years since I created the course, which I made to show why one’s self-interest drives successful social media.

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The social media courses run during a few months in wifi-ready classrooms on a campus near Bob Hope Airport. I coach writing, editing and marketing to students at Burbank Adult School, providing step-by-step instruction with my Writing Boot Camp, also in its fifth academic year.

My writing course features in-depth study of literary works, including poems, short stories and essays by Darwin, Rand, Kipling, Angelou and Bradbury and, of course, detailed analysis and feedback on student writing.

This Summer’s Courses

Summer courses in suburban Los Angeles are open for registration (see links from both images for prices, dates and details). As I finish teaching the spring semester’s lessons, I’ve come to understand the challenges of instructing adults that work, create and write as talent, social media managers and lawyers as well as entrepreneurs, screenwriters and authors.

The productive adult in today’s anxiety-ridden culture faces less freedom, stagnant growth and wages and higher inflation. Also, there are multiple and chronic distractions. So, I notice that today’s adult student faces greater difficulty making a mental effort. Whatever their educational background, students enjoy unparalleled technological advantages yet, at the same time, they suffer from an unmitigated assault on the intellect. Of what value is a powerful computer in your pocket, let alone its best features and apps, if you’re bombarded with notifications and distractions that tempt you to blank out? Though my classes are neither especially demanding nor rigorous, most of my students tend to flame out. Certain students buckle at any sign of an expected expenditure of effort.

I give a few assignments in both the media and writing courses, yet few students distinguish themselves with an endeavor of exceptional work. The ones who do tend to be extremely goal-oriented and rational. The best choose to consider new ideas. Conversely, the worst choose the opposite; one student this semester attended half the classes, didn’t do the assignments and wanted to argue about the premise of the course. However, another student reports achieving the goal to add customers through the outreach I’ve instructed for using LinkedIn. The same student reports increasing business revenue using Facebook as demonstrated in the class. Another writing student made a major, creative breakthrough with last week’s final writing assignment. The upshot is that it’s getting harder — but diligence pays off.

Summer lessons for my Writing Boot Camp, in which I guide the student through what I call a pre-writing phase and a proprietary six-point process, begin later this month.

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Balancing, integrating and making the best of socializing in today’s media is the focus of my social media course. The premise is that the student is a social being and ought to strive to leverage social media sites, tools and apps to advance his or her self-interest.

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The four-session series, Maximizing Social Media, starts next month and runs Mondays in June in the San Fernando Valley at an adult educational campus near Bob Hope Airport. It’s been several years since I was first contracted to create stories and campaigns for business and celebrity brands across multiple platforms in social media. I recycle what I learn in the lessons using a combination of research and writing assignments, live demonstration and audio-visual instruction.

This summer’s Maximizing Social Media is concise. The more intensive series covers essential social media management principles with privacy, branding and a sense of purpose in mind. And, while general lessons include how to create and activate an enduring, rewarding social network, each class features slide show displays and customized live social app or site demonstrations (with the student’s consent), as well as opportunities for one-on-one personal instruction. Register online for Maximizing Social Media.

The Year Ahead

I’ve started 2018 recovering from influenza and, at least for now, still in contention for fiction writing competition and submission. I am writing new stories and will keep you posted.

More info on my social media course

Otherwise, I make notes and revisions and screenwrite for others. No two scripts are alike and the process is unique to the individual. I’m enjoying the challenge of hunting, harvesting and essentializing data for a short research and interview assignment on someone’s forthcoming book. I also write copy and articles for clients’ websites, publications and books. Small projects can yield surprising rewards. For instance, I recently helped a friend, a published author, get organized. I performed menial tasks, really, yet I gained valuable insight from observing his approach.

Another client asked me to coordinate a campaign and compose letters for an effort to persuade authorities to reconsider and re-open an investigation into a child welfare case. As I always do, I gathered facts, read relevant case files, conducted an independent review, asked questions and formulated my conclusions, drafting final documents accordingly. The project was an unusual assignment in some ways, if typical in other ways, and, while I am not always able to accept such writing assignments, I found the challenge invigorating. My customer was fully prepared and a pleasure to work with. This makes the initial outcome — the district attorney’s office contacted my client upon receipt of the documents, opening the prospect of further investigation — only more rewarding.

More info on my writing course

As this year begins, I’m looking forward to creating each new theme, campaign or story. Twenty eighteen marks ten years of blogging and I plan to keep at it for now, adding selected book, movie and TV reviews and cultural commentary with occasional updates and announcements. I also plan to return to teaching my media courses this spring, so please note that Writing Boot Camp and Maximizing Social Media are open for registration and will commence as 10-weeknight classes at the Henry Mingay campus of Burbank Adult School near Bob Hope Airport. Enroll in social media studies here and my writing course here.

Here we go into what I want to be a Happy New Year!

Studying Los Angeles

Buy the DVD

Last year’s best movie, Lionsgate’s La La Land, debuted in certain theaters a year ago next week and, though I’ve parenthetically included the movie in my blog’s first Christmas gift guide, I have also added a link to buy the DVD. With the director, whose first film, Whiplash, garnered interest and recently announced that he’s making a new movie about the Apollo 11 landing of man on the moon, I think the musically-themed 2016 movie warrants serious consideration.

La La Land is a spirited and stimulating depiction of America’s pioneering individualism in general, and of Southern California’s productiveness, resilience and can-do youthfulness in particular, with songs by the team that composed this year’s hit musical, Dear Evan Hansen (and this month’s upcoming The Greatest Showman). Emma Stone (Aloha, Battle of the Sexes) and Ryan Gosling (The Ides of March, Blade Runner 2049) co-star as the young, ambitious artists of ability. I know others disagree whether the movie’s any good. Nevertheless, I am confident that La La Land deserves honest appraisal as a great film.

A new center for the study of Los Angeles opened this year at Occidental College in Eagle Rock. Earlier this year, I was asked by the local edition of the LA Times to report on the academy, so I went to the campus where Terry Gilliam, Ben Affleck, Jack Kemp and Barack Obama once took college classes and met and interviewed the director. I previously posted about the assignment this summer. In a wide-ranging discussion, we discussed the history of the humanities college, which was founded by Christians, the region and the ethos of Southern California. The director, a son of two college professors, told me about his own background, from a childhood in Alabama to living in downtown LA. I’ve added the article, which was published in the Los Angeles Times, to the archives here.

Next year’s Writing Boot Camp and Maximizing Social Media return to the San Fernando Valley’s Henry Mingay campus near Bob Hope Airport. Register for the course on perfecting social media here. Enroll in my writing course here.

Writing Boot Camp, Summer of Seventeen

Having recently finished teaching spring’s course on writing, the reviews are very gratifying. The class included adults who work and write as actors, lawyers and insurance agents as well as teachers, published writers, stand-up comedians, first-time novelists, studio script readers and others. The spring class gave me the best reviews yet.

I’m preparing six new summer lessons in my Writing Boot Camp, which begins at 6PM on Thursday, June 1st.

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This is an immersive and detailed study of the writing process in a progression of six steps. Students read their writing aloud in a structured, collaborative and purposeful classroom setting. I read and evaluate each student’s writing, providing thoughts, notes and feedback. Additionally, each student who completes my Writing Boot Camp gains admission to my closed writing group on Facebook, which is made for networking and sharing leads to publishing and production opportunities, resources and related events such as the LA Times Festival of Books and TCM Classic Film Festival.

The lecture-based course, with slide presentations, Q&A and writing assignments, takes place in a bright, intimate classroom at the Henry Mingay campus of Burbank Adult School in LA’s San Fernando Valley near Bob Hope Airport. Register online for Writing Boot Camp here. This summer, I also offer a new, four-part course titled Maximizing Social Media (details and registration are here).


Register for Writing Boot Camp

Register for Maximizing Social Media